06/12/2002 11:00PM

Adoration favored in Oaks full of cut-belows


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - With California's top 3-year-old fillies recovering from recent races or taking vacations, there is little that separates the eight fillies entered in Saturday's $250,000, Grade 2 Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks at Hollywood Park.

Three starters - Ladylore, Super High, and Adoration - won their first stakes in their last starts, while Ile De France and Respectful are seeking their first stakes wins following strong races in graded stakes earlier this year.

Sister Girl Blues, Runaway Pro, and Saint Bernadette will be longer prices.

Run over 1 1/16 miles, the Oaks is the top dirt race of the spring-summer meeting for 3-year-old fillies.

The winner will emerge from the Oaks with an enhanced reputation that could lead to a start later this year against top-class main track fillies such as You, Bella Bellucci, or Habibti.

Adoration will be favored on the strength of her front-running victory in the Grade 3 Senorita Stakes on turf on May 4, her second career win. Last February, Adoration was an eight-length winner on dirt at Santa Anita.

Trainer David Hofmans considered the Honeymoon Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on turf last weekend for Adoration, but opted for the Oaks, an easier spot.

"It's a good graduation from a mile to a mile and a sixteenth," he said. "The riders say she is more efficient on the dirt."

Like Adoration, Ile de France, an non-competitive sixth in the Kentucky Oaks on May 3, and Respectful, who was second in the Grade 2 Beaumont Stakes at Keeneland on April 26, will be near the pace. Both Ile de France and Respectful started in the Santa Anita Oaks: Ile de France finished third to You and Habibti after leading in midstretch, while Respectful was fifth.

Ladylore and Super High have won California-bred stakes at this meeting, but a win by either would be an upset. Super High won a weak running of the California Sires Stakes on turf on May 31. Ladylore won the $200,000 Melair Stakes at 31-1 over 1 1/16 miles on dirt on April 28 and has not started back.

Ladylore was claimed for $28,000 in a maiden race she won on March 16 by owner Thomas Wafer. By comparison, Saint Bernadette, who is making her stakes debut in her sixth start, cost owner Frank Stronach $200,000 as a yearling.

Ladylore will be ridden by Laffit Pincay Jr., and will be coming from off the pace.

"She has to improve two or three lengths," trainer Bill Spawr said. "We've got nothing to lose and everything to gain."