06/02/2004 11:00PM

Hard to keep Ticker Tape out of exacta


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The $175,000 Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap at Hollywood Park on Saturday offers an enticing purse, but that is not the only thing the connections of most of the 3-year-old fillies in the field are hoping to get out of the race.

They are hoping to parlay a win or a runner-up finish into an invitation to the $750,000 American Oaks here on July 3.

With the American Oaks expected to attract fillies from around the world, a locally based filly needs a strong performance in the Grade 2 Honeymoon to gain an invitation.

has been pointed to this series since she was bought last fall in England. Trained by Jim Cassidy, Ticker Tape has not been worse than second in five stakes, including a win in the Providencia Stakes at Santa Anita on April 11 and a tough loss to Miss Vegas in the Grade 3 Senorita Stakes here May 15.

Those races were at a mile on turf. Saturday's turf race marks the first time that Ticker Tape has run 1 1/8 miles, and Cassidy expects the distance and projected slow pace to affect the way Kent Desormeaux rides his filly.

"I think in this race we'll be a little closer, mainly because everyone wants to see if they get the trip," Cassidy said.

Ticker Tape has closed well in recent starts, an indication that she should handle the distance, he said.

"After she won the Providencia, I commented that I don't think we've gotten to the bottom of her yet," he said. "Her attitude was not there completely. I think she's an improving filly.

"She's unchanged since her last race. I haven't done much with her because I'm trying to save her for the whole year."

Ticker Tape's competition includes Amorama, who was third in the Senorita, and the lightly raced fillies Sagitta Ra and Western Hemisphere.

Amorama has yet to finish in front of Ticker Tape in four starts.

"The other day she was too close to the pace," trainer Julio Canani said of the Senorita. "She wants more distance."

Canani said he is changing Amorama's blinkers, going with a style that allows more vision.

Sagitta Ra is making her stakes debut for trainer Bobby Frankel. She was second in an allowance race on May 6.

Western Hemisphere, a full sister to the multiple stakes winner General Challenge, has impressed trainer Bob Baffert this year. Western Hemisphere won her turf debut in an allowance race for California-breds on May 14.

"She looks more and more like her brother," Baffert said. "We always wanted to run him on turf, but he kept winning all those million-dollar races."