Affluent squeezed through a narrow opening on the inside and won a fierce stretch battle over Royally Chosen in the $150,000 El Encino Stakes on Sunday at Santa Anita Park.Ridden by Eddie Delahoussaye at high weight of 119 pounds, Affluent prevailed by a nose and paid $3.80, $2.40 and $2.10. The winner ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.60 on a fast main track.Royally Chosen, who set the pace under Alex Solis at 117 pounds, dug in gamely when challenged by Affluent in the stretch, but just missed and had to settle for second place. The runner-up returned $3.20 and $2.20.It was five lengths back to Sea Reel, Garrett Gomez riding at 115 pounds, and a $2.40 show payoff. Love At Noon, Castling and Graceful Cat completed the order of finish.Affluent has now won the first two legs of the three-race La Canada Series for 4-year-old fillies. If Affluent wins the $200,000 La Canada Stakes on Feb. 9, she would become only the third horse to sweep the unique series of races.Royally Chosen, allowed to dictate the pace through fractions of :23.78, :47.07 and 1:11.30, had something left when Affluent challenged. As Affluent rallied through a small opening inside, Solis moved Royally Chosen slightly toward the rail, a "race-riding" maneuver that tightened things up on Affluent and Delahoussaye. The two fillies raced nose-and-nose from mid-stretch to the wire, and the photo finish showed Affluent winning by inches."It all worked out," Delahoussaye said. "I thought I'd gotten him right on the wire. My eyes are still pretty good."
A 4-year-old Kentucky-bred by 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed, Affluent has won three straight races, six of 12 overall, and the $90,000 winner's share pushed her earnings to $842,800. Ron McAnally is the trainer for owner Janis Whitham of Leoti, Kan.(Chart, Equibase)