02/12/2005 12:00AM

Tarlow runs away in La Canada

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Tarlow posts a front-running victory in the La Canada. The favorite, A.P. Adventure, was third.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Before the field reached the backstretch of Saturday's $200,000 at Santa Anita, trainer John Shirreffs began to think that his filly Tarlow would be impossible to catch on the lead.

Allowed to set her own pace, Tarlow had a one-length advantage through the first half-mile. She never gave up the lead, winning by two lengths under jockey Patrick Valenzuela. In the days before the race, Shirreffs was hoping that Tarlow could use her front-running style to score an upset.

"The fact they didn't get to her early, I thought we were in good shape," Shirreffs said. "I thought Patrick won the race in the second quarter when he got her to relax."

Tarlow led by as many as three lengths in the stretch. Tarlow ($11.80) finished 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.64, easily holding off a late run from Sweet Lips, who had won the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff here on Jan. 29. Last early, Sweet Lips closed well on the rail to finish two lengths behind.

A.P. Adventure, the 4-5 favorite in the field of five 4-year-old fillies, seemed to struggle throughout the race and finished third, a half-length behind Sweet Lips. A.P. Adventure was third on the backstretch, stalking Tarlow. She came under a ride from jockey Rene Douglas on the final turn, moved into second briefly, but was passed by Sweet Lips in the final sixteenth.

Amorama and Iflookscouldkill completed the order of finish.

The Grade 2 La Canada was the first stakes victory for Tarlow, who races for Jerry and Ann Moss. Tarlow has won 3 of 9 starts and $259,740. She placed in two Grade 2 stakes earlier in her career - a second in the 2003 Oak Leaf Stakes and a third in the Grade 2

El Encino Stakes behind Girl Warrior and A.P. Adventure on Jan. 16.