11/11/2005 1:00AM

Pussycat Doll moves way up in track switch


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The cancellation of grass racing this fall at Hollywood Park has transformed the filly Pussycat Doll from a fringe player to a potential standout Sunday in the $60,000 Audrey Skirball-Kenis Stakes.

Originally scheduled at 1 1/8 miles on turf for 3-year-old fillies, the conditions of the Skirball-Kenis were changed to 1 1/16 miles on dirt. It is right up Pussycat Doll's alley. Based on her four-length stakes win Sept. 3 at Del Mar, she should be favored Sunday.

The challenge is forgiving Pussycat Doll for a disappointing effort last out in the Grade 3 Indiana Oaks at Hoosier Park.

"I think the shipping was too much, and she couldn't handle the turns," trainer Bob Baffert said. "I didn't want to go, but there was no other place to run, and she was [training] great."

finished fifth, Baffert threw out the race, and the filly has rebounded. "She's training really well," Baffert said.

A small-sized daughter of Real Quiet owned by Mike Pegram, Pussycat Doll was considered a Kentucky Oaks candidate after finishing second behind Sweet Catomine in the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel in January, but she failed to develop and was off until fall.

A Sept. 3 comeback win by Pussycat Doll in the $100,000 Torrey Pines Stakes at Del Mar earned a 92 Beyer Speed Figure that would probably be good enough to win Sunday. Garrett Gomez rides Pussycat Doll, who has won two races and $126,673 from six starts, all on dirt. Her pressing style should put her near the lead in a race short on speed.

The pace scenario and a Hollywood profile that often favors front-runners compromises Shimmer, who lost her debut by a head, then won her next two for trainer John Shirreffs.

"She comes from way back, and I don't know how that'll work here if they have that Hollywood conga line going," Shirreffs said referring to the track profile.

A Classic Life has won 5 of 10 starts, mostly in the Northwest, and her Aug. 20 win three starts back at Emerald Downs in the Washington Oaks makes her a threat.

has some speed and is switching from turf to dirt. Skipping Court makes her first start since mid-September at Fairplex.

The Skirball-Kenis is race 8 on the nine-race card. In race 6, impressive maiden winner Giant Shift meets winners for the first time. A $500,000 son of Giant's Causeway, Giant Shift was one of five entered in the Bien Bien Stakes on Saturday but was scratched for this easier spot.