06/01/2005 11:00PM

'Hollywood' on top of game


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The rugged nature of Hollywood Story's victory last month in the Hawthorne Handicap has only toughened the 4-year-old filly.

In the first turn, she clipped heels with a rival, nearly fell, regrouped under Victor Espinoza, and rallied past six others to win by 2 1/2 lengths. She came out of the race uninjured, according to trainer John Shirreffs.

"It was an amazing race," he said.

That performance and her outstanding record, will make Hollywood Story a strong favorite in Saturday's $200,000 at Hollywood Park. She will be trying to win her fourth stakes, all of which have come at Hollywood.

Hollywood Story is in outstanding form. She won the Bayakoa Handicap here in December and finished a troubled third in the Santa Maria Handicap at Santa Anita in February before rebounding to win the Hawthorne.

Hollywood Story's gritty performance has made her a barn favorite in a stable that includes Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo.

"I'm really surprised at how well she's taken her races," Shirreffs said. "When I was gone for a couple of weeks, it was like she had grown an inch."

In the Grade 2 Milady over 1 1/16 miles, Hollywood Story carries topweight of 121 pounds. She spots six rivals four to nine pounds.

The race has five other stakes winners, including defending champion Star Parade, who is winless in her four starts since the 2004 Milady. Another top contender is House of Fortune, who beat Hollywood Story in the 2004 Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks.

House of Fortune is winless in five starts since that race, including three losses this year. She was sixth in the Sunshine Millions Distaff and Apple Blossom Handicap before finishing third in the Hawthorne.

"She might have gotten a little tired," trainer Ron McAnally said of House of Fortune's performance in the Hawthorne. "She didn't get much out of her first two races. She's back on track now."

The race scenario sets up well for closers such as Hollywood Story and Star Parade, or a stalker such as House of Fortune.

Alphabet Kisses, the winner of the B. Thoughtful Stakes here April 24, and Siphon Honey, the runner-up in the Hawthorne, are expected to set a quick pace. Andujar, who is making her stakes debut, will also be near the front.