07/02/2004 11:00PM

Baffert filly favored in Landaluce


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - For a career debut, was nearly perfect in a five-furlong race at Hollywood Park on May 29.

She broke well, extended her lead around the turn, and pulled away to win by 10 lengths, finishing in a quick 56.51 seconds.

Monday, that form will be tested when My Miss Storm Cat makes her stakes debut in the $100,000 Landaluce Stakes at Hollywood Park. Run over six furlongs, the Grade 3 Landaluce is the season's first major stakes for 2-year-old fillies in California.

Trainer Bob Baffert is certain that My Miss Storm Cat can duplicate her maiden win - and become a factor in the juvenile filly division.

"I thought she would win, but she really ran a lot better than I thought she would," Baffert said of her debut. "She's doing better since she ran."

My Miss Storm Cat will be favored in the Landaluce.

Her main competition comes from Souvenir Gift, the winner of the Cinderella Stakes on June 6, who is unbeaten in two starts. Trained at San Luis Rey Downs by Sam Semkin, Souvenir Gift began her career with a victory in a two-furlong maiden race at Santa Anita in April.

In the Cinderella Stakes over 5 1/2 furlongs, Souvenir Gift stalked the pace for the first quarter-mile and rallied wide to take the lead in early stretch. She won by 4 1/2 lengths, leaving Semkin with the impression that she can improve.

"She's never been all out," he said. "I've never worked her all out and she hasn't had to run all out."

My Miss Storm Cat has ample speed and may try to lead throughout.

Souvenir Gift can come from behind if she has to, Semkin said.

"She doesn't have to have the lead," he said. "She doesn't mind the dirt hitting her."

The field includes the maidens Bella Banissa and Fortunate Event, both of whom are stakes placed.

Bella Banissa was second as the favorite in the Nursery Stakes over five furlongs in her career debut on May 16, losing by 1 1/2 lengths to Double D Appeal.

Fortunate Event was second to Souvenir Gift in her second start, having finished fifth in a maiden race on May 19.

Trainer Mike Harrington has two starters - I Can Yodele and Swiss Please.

I Can Yodele beat statebred maidens on June 9. Swiss Please was fifth in the Nursery after a poor start and third in the Cinderella.