11/10/2002 1:00AM

Sentimental Value takes Matiara


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - A victory on a wet Saturday at Hollywood Park may lead to a new career for Sentimental Value.

Making her first start on the main track, Sentimental Value romped over a wet-fast track to win the $125,000 Matiara Stakes for 3-year-olds fillies.

Trainer Kristin Mulhall did not hesitate to keep Sentimental Value in the Matiara when the race was removed from the turf.

"This was the perfect excuse to try it," Mulhall said. "She worked unbelievably on it. I think she gets along on the dirt better."

Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Sentimental Value ($7.80) ran 1 1-8 miles in 1:52.12, finishing four lengths in front of Secret Garden. Company B finished third, followed by Keys to the Heart, Magical Nature and Kithira, the 9-5 favorite who stumbled at the start.

Secret Garden, an import from England making her dirt debut, led through fractions of 24.08 and 47.84 seconds, and was closely followed by Sentimental Value.

The pair were on even terms on the second turn, closely followed by Company B. Turning for home, Sentimental Value took the lead and was a half-length in front at the eighth pole. She was not threatened in the final furlong.

Alozaina, Crousille, Megahertz and Nunatall were scratched on Friday when the race was taken off the turf.

Sentimental Value has won 3 of 11 starts and $171,844. Racing for the Thoroughbred Corp., Sentimental Value won a division of the Ramser Handicap on turf last month at Santa Anita.