D. Wayne Lukas is hoping that Spain can build on her La Canada Stakes victory as a field of eight older fillies and mares have entered for the grade I Santa Margarita Handicap set for Saturday at 1 1/8 miles on the main track.An invitational event, the Grade I Santa Margarita serves as Santa Anita's championship for older fillies and mares on dirt. Spain, a Kentucky-bred 4-year-old by Thunder Gulch, was purchased as a yearling at the September 1998 Keeneland sale for $25,000 and has gone on to win of seven of 21 starts for $2,283,335 in earnings.Assigned highweight of 122 pounds, Spain will be spotting the field from four to 12 pounds as she breaks from the five-hole under regular rider Victor Espinoza.Trainer Ron McAnally is hopeful that Gary Tanaka's Argentine-bred Lovellon can repeat her winning performance from the grade I Santa Maria Handicap Feb. 18McAnally has struck Santa Margarita gold a record six times and five of the wins came with Argentine-bred mares -- Bayakoa (1989-90), Paseana (1994 and '96) and Toda Una Dama (1998). Lovellon completed preparations with a :48.80 four-furlong work Thursday morning."She just had to go an easy half-mile," said assistant trainer Dan Landers. "She looked like she was breezing. She's ready."
In other Santa Margarita developments:
--Feverish had a walk day Thursday following her :36.80 three- furlong breeze Wednesday.
--Lazy Slusan trainer John Dolan, who finished fourth with Irisheyesareflying in Saturday's Big 'Cap, would like to see the wet weather return for the weekend. "I'm hoping for rain," Dolan said. "She'll be one-hundred percent 'go' if it rains."The field for the Santa Margarita, from the rail out with jockeys and weights: Brianda, Tyler Baze, 110; Let's Cruise, no rider, 111; Critikola, Laffit Pincay Jr., 114; Lazy Slusan, David Flores, 114; Spain, Victor Espinoza, 122; (a) Gourmet Girl, Roberto Gonzalez, 116; Feverish, Eddie Delahoussaye, 118, and (a) Lovellon, Gary Stevens, 116. (a)-Gary Tanaka entry.