12/16/2002 12:00AM

Sentimental Value eyes third straight

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Sentimental Value tries to extend her winning streak to three on Wednesday in a $58,000 allowance race for 3-year-olds over a mile on turf.

Sentimental Value was being considered for the El Encino Stakes on Jan. 19, but her owner, The Thoroughbred Corp., will start Habibti in that race, leaving Sentimental Value to Wednesday's lesser prize.

With strong recent form, Sentimental Value has every chance to win for trainer Kristin Mulhall.

Sentimental Value won the Ramser Handicap at Oak Tree over a mile on turf on Oct. 14, her first victory in three starts since arriving from England during the summer. In the summer, she was stakes placed twice on turf but bled in both races.

Proving that she was not a turf-only runner, Sentimental Value returned to win the Matiara Stakes for 3-year-olds fillies over a wet-fast track on Nov. 9. The race was originally scheduled for turf but was transferred because of wet conditions.

Rain is possible on Monday or Tuesday, which could force a surface switch for Wednesday's race.

Either way, Sentimental Value is ready, Mulhall said.

"She's training incredibly," she said.

One mile seems the best distance for Sentimental Value. Mulhall said the filly can sometimes be overly eager.

"She would go farther than a mile if we could get her to relax," Mulhall said.

There are seven fillies entered but some may scratch if the race remains on turf. Film Critic, who was stakes placed at 2, will run if the race is transferred to dirt, trainer John Shirreffs said.

If the race stays on turf, Sentimental Value must beat Nunatall, who is trained by Bobby Frankel. The winner of the Lake George Stakes at Saratoga in July, Nunatall is unraced since finishing fourth in the Garden City Breeders' Cup Handicap at Belmont Park.

Nunatall drew the outside post and is likely to start as the favorite.

Others with a chance include Company B and Ponche de Leona, who are coupled in an entry trained by Christopher Paasch.

Company B has chased Sentimental Value in her last two starts, finishing second in the Ramser Stakes and third in the Matiara Stakes. Ponche de Leona has better form on dirt than turf, having finished third in the Palo Alto Stakes at Bay Meadows in October.

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