06/05/2008 11:00PM

Distance the issue at Hollywood


Nine fillies were entered in Sunday's 1 1/16-mile Grade 2, $150,000 Hollywood Oaks, but there aren't as many graded stakes winners in the field as you might expect for a race of this quality.

Only three of the fillies show a graded stakes win. None of those wins were earned against Grade 1 or Grade 2 company. And none of the Grade 3 wins were achieved at a route distance.

Does this mean the Grade 3 sprint winners in this field stand out, or does the fact that those graded stakes wins were earned at sprint distances mean this route race is wide open? If you can answer that question correctly, you'll have a good chance to win some money. Let's take a look at the contenders in post position order:

* Million Dollar Run finished second, beaten by a neck going six furlongs, in her debut. In an ambitious move, she tackled Grade 3 rivals next in the seven-furlong Railbird stakes while still a maiden. She rated in second, then drew away late to win that race by 2 1/4 lengths. The 96 Beyer Speed Figure she earned in that win is 5 points higher than the second best number any of her opponents have received, and continued progress is possible as she makes her third career start. The move from sprint to route is a concern, but she was striding out nicely late in her Railbird win, so she might like the route trip.

o Divine Legacy finished fourth in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes at a mile, fourth in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks going 1 1/16 miles, and fourth on grass at a mile in the Grade 3 Senorita. She does her best running in route races and likes Cushion Track. Her closing style should enable her to pass some of the tiring speed, and she turned in a nice 46.40-second work at Hollywood five days ago.

* Lethal Heat won her first three starts, including the 6 1/2-furlong Grade 3 Santa Paula at Santa Anita two races ago. In her last start, she lost her best chance when she stumbled at the start, fell back a few lengths, then finished third, beaten five lengths by Million Dollar Run as the 6-5 favorite going seven furlongs in the Railbird. While Lethal Heat certainly would have finished much closer with a better beginning, Million Dollar Run was running strongly late in that win, so it would be a stretch to assume that Lethal Heat would have beaten her with a clean start.

* Miss Singhsix broke slowly, rallied, then flattened out and finished fourth as the 6-5 favorite on turf in her U.S. debut. She graduated on Polytrack in Ireland and has trained well on Cushion Track, so the surface switch might enable her to find her way into the exotics at a square price.

* Bel Air Sizzle shows no graded stakes wins, but she was a contending third in the Grade 2 Providencia on the turf at Santa Anita. She is a route specialist who will be gaining late. Although she was moved up to first on a disqualification on Hollywood's Cushion Track two races ago, she only beat Cal-breds in that race, and her Beyers from her three Cushion Track races aren't as good as her typical turf Beyers, so regression is possible on the surface switch.

* Tasha's Miracle won the 6 1/2-furlong Grade 3 Sorrento Stakes at Del Mar as a 2-year-old. Although she has not won a graded stakes since then, she deserves lots of credit for finishing fourth going 1 1/16 miles in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. She also finished third against Grade 1 company at Santa Anita in the one-mile Las Virgenes.

I'll go with Million Dollar Run on top based on her fast Railbird victory and her strong finish in that race. I'll take Lethal Heat second while giving her credit for the poor start and for the late progress she made in her sprints. Tasha's Miracle is my third choice on the hope she is approaching her good 2007 route form. Divine Legacy will be included in the exotics as my fourth pick due to her fondness for route races, Cushion Track, and her solid late kick.