11/29/2001 12:00AM

Mon Ange preps for La Brea


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - With the La Canada series at Santa Anita on the horizon, Mon Ange faces her first test around two turns in an allowance race at Hollywood Park on Friday.

Unbeaten in two starts, Mon Ange is the likely favorite against four others in the seventh race, run over 1 1/16 miles. A win would make her a leading contender for the $200,000 La Brea Stakes over seven furlongs on Dec. 29.

"I think she can route," trainer Richard Matlow said. "She relaxes well. She'll work as fast or as slow as you want. She can lay off it."

A 3-year-old, Mon Ange won a maiden race at Santa Anita on Jan. 21, but was out for eight months after undergoing surgery to have a bone chip removed from an ankle. Mon Ange returned in an allowance race over 6 1/2 furlongs on Oct. 7, and won gamely under Jose Valdivia Jr., who has the mount on Friday.

Owned by Merv Griffin, Mon Ange is being pointed for the La Brea as well as the $150,000 El Encino Stakes over 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 20 and the $200,000 La Canada Stakes over 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 9.

"She'll be dead fit for those races," Matlow said. "I was hoping this race would go because I didn't want to train her up to that. She needs experience. The more she gets, the better she'll be."

Mon Ange may lead throughout, but could be challenged early by Cee's Elegance. "You hate to get in a duel the first time going two turns," Matlow said.

Red Hot and Blue and Cee's Elegance are eligible to win, having finished second and third, respectively, in a similar race at a mile at Santa Anita on Nov. 2.

Both were stakes-placed earlier this year. Red Hot and Blue was third in the restricted Piedra Foundation Stakes at Del Mar on Aug. 24. A closer, Red Hot and Blue is trained by Alexis Barba.

Cee's Elegance won the Lakeview Farm Stakes, which was basically an allowance race for California-breds last April. Trained by Jay Robbins, Cee's Elegance was third in the E.B. Johnston Stakes at Fairplex Park in September. A 4-year-old, she was scratched from the Cat's Cradle Handicap last Friday.

Beloved and Dynatrol are entered to be claimed for $62,500, and will be the longer prices.

The four opponents will provide Mon Ange with an important test. "I think she's a nice filly," Matlow said. "Until you try them against that company, you never know."