07/03/2007 11:00PM

Pussycat Doll primed for A Gleam


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - She doesn't come out frequently, but when she does, Pussycat Doll as often as not is the one to beat.

On Friday night, in the Grade 2, $150,000 A Gleam Handicap at Hollywood Park, Pussycat Doll will be making just her third start in 14 months, will lug top weight of 124 pounds while conceding as much as 12 pounds to her rivals, and will have to overcome an inside draw, often a detriment going seven furlongs. It will be tempting to try and beat her, but her trainer, Bob Baffert, warns that she is ready to fire.

"The real Pussycat Doll is going to show up," Baffert said Wednesday morning.

The real Pussycat Doll has won twice in her last three starts, all in Grade 1 races, and four times in her last six starts. She has become a late-running sprint specialist, with three wins and a second in her last four races going seven furlongs.

The A Gleam is at seven furlongs, which is a major reason Baffert elected to stay here rather than travel to Calder for the six-furlong Princess Rooney Stakes on Saturday, even though the Florida race is a Grade 1 and is worth more than three times the Triple Bend.

"I was thinking of going to Florida, but I wasn't feeling it," Baffert said. "My gut was saying no. Six furlongs is too short."

Pussycat Doll has not raced since finishing second in the Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs on Derby Day, May 5. She broke poorly that day, was caught wide, and came up four lengths short.

"It's got to set up for her," Baffert said. "She's doing well. I'd like to be drawn outside, but I don't think it's as big a factor on Cushion Track."

Pussycat Doll landed post 2. That thrilled trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, whose Somethinaboutlaura, the main rival to Pussycat Doll, drew the outside post with jockey Victor Espinoza in the field of 10.

"I'd rather be outside Pussycat Doll," Hollendorfer said. "I asked Victor about it, and he was thinking the same thing."

Somethinaboutlaura has won three straight races, once via disqualification. She has now won 14 times in 26 starts and has finished second another four times. Her last two races were going two turns on turf, but she earned a win here Aprilo29 going seven furlongs when Getback Time interfered with her in the B. Thoughtful Stakes.

"She's done everything we've asked," Hollendorfer said. "She's very flexible. Lucky for us, she can do her job on different surfaces and at different distances."

Clinet is an intriguing longshot. She runs well fresh, seems best as a late-running sprinter, and won a race over a synthetic surface early in her career.