05/17/2004 11:00PM

European fillies look best of eight


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Two fillies who were going nowhere in Europe show up in a first-condition allowance on Thursday at Hollywood Park, and handicappers must take both seriously.

Although the Bobby Frankel-trained picked up where she left off by losing her first two starts in the United States, the filly's runner-up finish last out - beaten a head - suggests she has just enough ability to win the first condition. Conspiring is making her U.S. debut for trainer Neil Drysdale, and her promising Irish form makes her the most likely winner even though she is racing for the first time since fall.

Six other fillies and mares entered the 1 1/16-mile turf race, and few can be entirely dismissed. The field includes , who is facing open company after winning a Cal-bred allowance; It Was Meant to Be, upset winner of consecutive claiming races; and Quatrain, stretching out after a sprint comeback. The three others are Harbor Blues, Leave to Appeal, and Chetak.

The seventh-race feature is not particularly strong, nor is the quality of the Thursday card, which attracted 58 horses, not counting also-eligible entrants. The good news is that the program is a deviation from the 2004 norm. Based on field size, Hollywood racing has improved and shows an increase of one-half a horse per race. Field size one year ago at this time averaged 7.8 starters per race; the track's field-size average this meet has increased to 8.3.

The seventh race Thursday is one of the few on the card that may offer wagering value, and then only if bettors do not consider Conspiring the most likely winner.

A 4-year-old filly sired by Grand Slam, Conspiring improved late in her 3-year-old campaign in Ireland. She finished second against males, missed by a nose in a listed stakes, then set the pace and tired in another listed stakes on Nov. 8. That was her final start in Europe.

Drysdale took over for Conspiring's U.S. campaign, and a May 6 team workout with potential star Stage Shy provides a positive form barometer. Conspiring was slightly outworked by Stage Shy, a full sister to Geri who has won both of her U.S. starts impressively and is nominated to the Grade 1 Gamely on May 31. More important than works is the fact that Conspiring ran well overseas against better company than she faces Thursday.

La Scala was rank throughout in her last start, when she missed by only a head. She has raced only seven times, and if she settles Thursday she could be the winner.