Updated on 09/17/2011 9:45AM

Prove it was no fluke

Benoit & Associates
In Sunday's El Encino, Got Koko won't be 17-1 like she was in the La Brea (above).

ARCADIA, Calif. - Got Koko pulled a shocking upset at 17-1 in the La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita on Dec. 28, the first leg of the three-race La Canada Series.

The second leg is Sunday's $150,000 El Encino Stakes over 1 1/16 miles and Got Koko will be back to prove that her recent win was not a fluke.

"I think she's made for the mile," trainer Bruce Headley said. "She's long-legged, patient, and she runs the last part."

The El Encino drew nine 4-year-old fillies and Got Koko is one of six stakes winners in the field. Headley is confident that Got Koko fits with a field that includes such well-regarded fillies as Bare Necessities, Bella Bellucci, and Glia.

A few months ago, Got Koko would not have made many lists of 4-year-old fillies to watch. Her only stakes win had come in the restricted Torrey Pines Stakes at Del Mar last summer over a mile. She returned to finish seventh in a division of the Ramser Handicap on turf at Santa Anita in October. After more than two months off, she won the La Brea by 3 1/2 lengths with a late rally from seventh.

"I've seen natural development and she's getting better," Headley said.

Got Koko won an allowance race over 1 1/16 miles last summer at Hollywood Park and is best when racing from a stalking position. She will have plenty of company in that position in the El Encino. While Ms Louisett, Ponche de Leone, and Theresa's Year have the speed to set the pace, top contenders such as Glia and Bare Necessities are best from off the pace.

Glia won her U.S. debut in the Pebbles Handicap at Belmont Park in October, and followed with a second in the Mrs. Revere Stakes on turf at Churchill Downs in November.

Bare Necessities was third in the Torrey Pines Stakes last September, but rebounded to have an excellent fall. Bare Necessities won the Indiana Breeders' Cup Oaks by eight lengths at Hoosier Park in October and was a game second in the Churchill Downs Distaff a month later.

Only two of the nine fillies who chased Got Koko in the La Brea return in the El Encino - Bella Bellucci, who finished fourth, and Ms Louisett, who was 10th.

"I thought she was running well at the end of the race," trainer Neil Drysdale said of Bella Bellucci's performance in the La Brea. "I'd expect her to improve off that race."

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