12/10/2004 12:00AM

Look for Miss Loren to upset Bayakoa


PHOENIX - Miss Loren has yet to repeat her explosive victory in the Grade 2 Clement L. Hirsch Handicap at Del Mar in August. In Sunday's Grade 2 Bayakoa Handicap at Hollywood Park, the circumstances look right for Miss Loren to win her second U.S. graded stakes.

Miss Loren came from her native Argentina to the barn of trainer Luis Seglin during the spring. After a couple of so-so outings in graded stakes in June, one on turf, one on dirt, Miss Loren burst on the scene in the Hirsch. She sat back early and made a powerful move from the far turn to the sixteenth pole, going from near last to first. She drew away to win in a romp at 34-1, leaving Grade 2 stakes winner House of Fortune and multiple stakes winner Royally Chosen in her wake. It appeared she had found a home in the States, and you couldn't blame Seglin for eyeing bigger game and targeting the Grade 1 Ruffian at Belmont.

Sightseek demolished that field, however, winning by more than 11. Miss Loren fell back early, as usual, and made a bit of a run to get third.

Miss Loren proved she could still be dangerous in the right spots in the Grade 2 Lady's Secret at Santa Anita on Oct. 3. Well back early, she closed under regular rider Jon Court and just failed to catch multiple Grade 1 winner Island Fashion. Then she went back to turf for the Grade 2 Las Palmas, and while she closed well to be fourth she was never really a threat.

So, Sunday's Bayakoa presents the opportunity to get back on the path. It's dirt, which may well be her preferred surface. She also isn't facing anyone as good as Sightseek, or even Island Fashion. Sure, A.P. Adventure, Hollywood Story, and Essence look scary, but they are 3-year-olds facing elders.

Likely favorite A.P. Adventure hasn't run since a poor showing in last April's Kentucky Oaks - though she's been working great - and Hollywood Story comes off a miserable effort in the BC Distaff at Lone Star on Oct. 30, just her first race back after nearly four months on the bench. In other words, the likely top two betting choices each have a right not to fire their best shots here. When you have vulnerable favorites, it's time to swing for the fences.

In fact, not only is Miss Loren an intriguing prospect on top, but from an exotics standpoint things could get even better. Royally Chosen, another elder, comes off a monster win in the Cat's Cradle. That gives her a big race over this track, this meet, something none of the 3-year-olds has; neither does Miss Loren.

Royally Chosen has been a tough campaigner for some time, and while most of her success has come around one turn, she owns two-turn victories and has done some of her best work here. Her Nov. 14 Cat's Cradle win looks even better now as the horse she whipped back into second, Cyber Slew, came back to win a $54,752 allowance race at Hollywood on Wednesday.

It won't be a surprise if A.P. Adventure, or even Hollywood Story, comes up big and wins here. They're very nice 3-year-old fillies. But with so much play going their way and ample cause for optimism regarding the chances of Miss Loren and Royally Chosen, not the least of which are big prices, there certainly is reason to take a shot.