07/27/2005 11:00PM

Louvain in form and ready to fire


DEL MAR, Calif. - proved she was back to her best form when she rallied from eighth to win the Flawlessly Stakes at Hollywood Park on July 4.

The victory was her second stakes win in three starts since arriving from France last fall and helped to erase the disappointment of a sixth in the Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap in June.

Saturday, Louvain can improve her standing in the 3-year-old filly turf division when she starts as the favorite in the Grade 2, $150,000 San Clemente Handicap over a mile on turf at Del Mar.

Trained by Bobby Frankel, Louvain drew the rail in an oversubscribed field of 14 that has a safety limit of 10 starters.

A closer, Louvain is unlikely to be hampered by her rail draw. Last fall, in her U.S. debut, she broke from the rail in the Grade 3 Miesque Stakes at Hollywood Park and closed from last in a field of eight to win by two lengths.

That performance, along with her Flawlessly win, proved that Louvain will cooperate with a rider and essentially shut off in the early stages of a race before being asked.

"She does relax and doesn't get real excited in the race," said Humberto Ascanio, Frankel's assistant.

Louvain did not scare off much competition. The second- through fourth-place finishers from the Flawlessly - Royal Copenhagen, Island Escape, and Conveyor's Angel - return in the San Clemente.

The San Clemente should be run at a genuine pace. , who won the Impressive Style Stakes over 5 1/2 furlongs at Hollywood Park on July 1, and Thatswhatimean, a minor stakes winner at Santa Anita in March, are expected to show speed.

Thatswhatimean was 10th in the American Oaks on July 3 after racing near the front for the first six furlongs. Memorette, sixth in the American Oaks in her turf debut, will be well supported in the San Clemente. She has placed in four Grade 1 or Grade 2 stakes since February, but is winless in seven starts this year.

All 14 of the fillies are coming out of stakes. There is one import - Salsa Brava, who was group-stakes-placed in England last year.

Trainer Julio Canani said he expects improvement from Shining Energy, who makes her first start since finishing seventh as the favorite in the Grade 3 Senorita. Canani said she had an excuse.

"She pulled a muscle behind," he said. "She had a problem."