04/28/2005 11:00PM

'Donna' a breakout candidate


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The 3-year-old filly sector starts over in the Grade 3 Railbird Stakes on Sunday at Hollywood Park. The timing is right, because the division is nearly empty.

Sweet Catomine is retired; Sharp Lisa is out until fall; and Splendid Blended has not been seen since winning the Hollywood Starlet last year. Memorette is the only California filly still trying to do something big, and she is in Kentucky training for the Kentucky Oaks.

The bare cupboard can be restocked in the seven-furlong Railbird by a well-regarded filly whose form remains unexposed. Donna's Doll is moving from a maiden sprint to a graded stakes, and an pull an upset if she continues her upward pattern.

With only two career starts, needs to improve to win the Railbird, because the eight entrants include two established stakes fillies, Grade 3 winner Inspiring and Cal-bred stakes winner Short Route.

, a Bob Baffert-trained filly, is the favorite and likely pacesetter. She had been off eight months when she returned April 2 in a minor six-furlong stakes at Santa Anita, contesting wicked fractions of 21.26 and 43.79 seconds before weakening to third. Conventional thinking holds that Inspiring was short. After all, it was her first start since winning the Sorrento Stakes last summer at Del Mar.

But can Inspiring get seven furlongs, breaking from the rail, while conceding weight? Her best effort was at five furlongs, and she labored in both starts going longer. If she fades again, Short Route is qualified to upset. She won 2 of 6 last year, including a seven-furlong Cal-bred stakes, but bruised a foot her only start this year.

The 85 Beyer Speed Figure that earned finishing second last fall in the seven-furlong Moccasin Stakes at Hollywood Park was her career-best, but is still 11 points below the 96 Beyer typically required to win the Railbird.

The same problem applies to Donna's Doll, whose maiden-race Beyer of 89 falls short of the Railbird par. Nevertheless, it was only her second start, and she was in command throughout that 6 1/2-furlong sprint. She has also progressed in morning works and should relish seven furlongs.

If Donna's Doll is all she has been billed as and makes the expected leap forward in her third career start, the Railbird is hers for the taking.