05/15/2003 12:00AM

High hopes for Makeup Artist


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Makeup Artist fell a neck short of winning her stakes debut in the Providencia Stakes at Santa Anita last month.

Considering the race was her first start against winners and first start in three months, the performance left many observers impressed with the filly's development.

When Makeup Artist returns in Saturday's $100,000 Senorita Stakes at Hollywood Park, many expect her to win the one-mile turf race, which trainer John Shirreffs hopes will be a springboard to more lucrative races in coming months.

"She's coming into the race as well as she did at Santa Anita," Shirreffs said.

Owned by George Krikorian, Makeup Artist has won 2 of 3 starts. After finishing second in her career debut in a sprint at Hollywood Park in December, she returned on Jan. 9 and won a one-mile maiden race on turf by two lengths.

In the Providencia, Makeup Artist rallied three wide in the stretch to just miss catching Star Vega.

The Senorita Stakes is the next turf stakes for the 3-year-old filly division, and the first of three stakes for the group at Hollywood Park. Later in the meeting, Shirreffs is hoping that Makeup Artist will start in the $200,000 Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on turf on June 7 and the $750,000 American Oaks over 1 1/4 miles on turf on July 5.

First, Makeup Artist must win in a small field in the Senorita.

Supplemented for $5,000 on Thursday, Makeup Artist is the likely favorite in a field that includes Santa Anita stakes winner Major Idea; the European imports Little Malvern and Rutters Renegade; and Shapes and Shadows, who was third in the Providencia.

Major Idea won the Blue Norther and Some Sensation stakes at Santa Anita, but was only fifth of sixth in the Providencia. She was last of six early, farther back than in her previous races, and made no impression in the stretch.

Little Malvern and Rutters Renegade beat males in Europe, but did not race in top company. Neither has started since last fall.

Shapes and Shadows beat maidens on this course last December, and set the pace in the Providencia, which was run over 1 1/8 miles on turf. She should benefit from the shorter trip in the one-mile Senorita, but could face early pressure from Bartok's Beau, the winner of a maiden claimer in her only start.