11/28/2002 12:00AM

Hollywood Park: Viernes awakens at last

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - After making no impression in her first three starts in the United States, Viernes pulled a 24-1 upset in the $72,900 Waya Handicap at Hollywood Park.

Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Viernes ($51.60) ran the 1 1/2 miles on turf in a stakes record 2:26.38.

Viernes was seventh early, reached contention in early stretch, and rallied wide to win by four lengths over Snowflake. Julie Jalouse, the 5-2 favorite and the winner of the Grade 2 Orchid Handicap at Gulfstream Park last March, led in midstretch but faded to finish third in the field of nine fillies and mares.

Viernes has now won 5 of 16 starts and $68,356. Owned by California Racing Stable and trained by Paulo Lobo, the 5-year-old Viernes won a Group 3 race and placed in a Group 1 last year. Before Thursday's race, she had finished ninth in an allowance race, fifth in a minor handicap, and sixth in the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon Stakes at Santa Anita.

"It has taken her a long time to acclimate," Lobo said. "She's better now."

Lobo said that Viernes will be pointed for races at 1 1/4 miles or farther.