07/11/2005 11:00PM

Pegasus Rose appears best of suspect lot


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - No speed, no chance. That's the recent theme on the speed-favoring main track at Hollywood Park, where eight fillies and mares run 1 1/16 miles in the seventh-race feature on Thursday.

But there are two problems with the nonwinners-of-one-other-than allowance field. First, there is not a confirmed front-runner in the lineup. Second, none of the entrants has earned recent figures anywhere close to the Beyer Speed Figure par of 90 for this kind of race. Based on speed figures, none of the entrants in the $51,000 allowance is qualified to win. Yet unless sheer chaos unfolds, the most likely winner could be the lone 3-year-old in the field.

has fallen short of expectations more than once, but she enters this race with a slight edge. Trained by Bob Baffert and owned and bred by B. Wayne Hughes, Pegasus Rose set the pace and faded late in her first two starts, then stretched out to two turns for her third career start Feb. 24 and wired a modest field of maidens.

A daughter of Fusaichi Pegasus, Pegasus Rose has had little chance to win since. She was overmatched in the $259,000 Sunland Oaks won by Cee's Irish, then overmatched again in the Grade 3 Railbird Stakes, won by Short Route. Pegasus Rose was foiled once more, May 26, when she ran a flat third in her first start on grass.

Baffert has freshened her since that race, and worked her in typically fast fashion. Whatever Pegasus Rose can do, she is likely to do it first start back. She could be quick enough to make the lead from the inside post under Victor Espinoza, and the 85 Beyer she earned in her only previous route effort in California is only five points below the N1X par. Thus, Pegasus Rose is almost qualified to win.

She will be coupled in the betting with lightly raced , a Ron Ellis-trained filly who is switching to dirt for the first time. She finished second in her sprint debut, overcame trouble winning her second start, then broke slowly and ran poorly in an N1X turf route on June 5. Because she is the least-experienced horse in the field, with only three starts, Hope For also might have the most upside potential. But she is slow; her high Beyer is 78.

has won two straight starts; Run for Desert stretches out following an improved effort second start back. The rest of the field consists of Brilliant Move, L'Ete, Reasonably Brite, and Free Rent.