Luvah Girl Nips Katdogwan in La Habra

English-bred Luvah Girl wore down Himalayan in the stretch run and held off a flying Katdogawn by a head to capture Friday's $110,800 La Habra Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by a head at Santa Anita Park.

Ridden by Mike Smith at 116 pounds, Luvah Girl ran about 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:14.03 on a good turf course and paid $3.80, $3.40 and $3. Jenine Sahadi is the trainer for Team Valor, LLC.

It was the first American race for Luvah Girl, a bay filly by Alzao whose previous five starts were in England including a win in a Group II stakes at Newmarket last October.

Katdogawn, Julie Krone riding at 114 pounds, rallied from last to finish second and returned $11 and $5.40. The runner-up was coupled in the wagering with Bond Midnight.

Himalayan, with Corey Nakatani aboard at 116 pounds, took the lead in mid-stretch but had to settle for third and a $3.80 show payoff.

Luvah Girl settled into fourth place early as Heart Ofa Champion and Oneexcessivenite dueled for the lead through fractions of :21.95 and :44.49. Himalayan overhauled the latter pair in the stretch run but was soon tackled by Luvah Girl, who had rallied wide into the lane.

"She broke slow, but I wasn't worried," Smith said. "I've worked her a few times and I knew she would give it to me. She was looking at the grandstand, but she's still learning the game over here. She looks like a nice filly."

Luvah Girl, who was purchased privately for an undisclosed six-figure sum last November, is now 3-2-0 from six starts. The $66,480 winner's share increased her earnings to $155,545.

(Chart, Equibase)