02/10/2006 12:00AM

Pussycat Doll's race to lose

Pussycat Doll earned a 112 Beyer Speed Figure in her rallying win in the Grade 1 La Brea (above).

ARCADIA, Calif. - Pussycat Doll commands such minimal respect that several of her rivals Sunday in the Grade 2, $200,000 La Canada Stakes have no business in the race.

is a turf specialist who is trying dirt largely because the La Canada field is modest. Seafree is a sprinter who is trying two turns mainly because the field is short on speed. As for Sharp Lisa, her current form hardly qualifies her to win an allowance race, much less a graded stakes.

Eight fillies entered the La Canada, a 1 1/8-mile race for 4-year-old fillies, and Pussycat Doll's versatility makes her stand out. Racing two turns Nov. 13 in a minor stakes at Hollywood, she pressed the pace and won by more than six. Racing seven furlongs Dec. 31 in the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita, she rallied from 13 lengths back. It's a tough combination to beat - early speed and a finishing kick.

"That's what makes her so eye-catching - she does everything right," said jockey Garrett Gomez. "She's come back since then and has been working really good. She's not very big, but her heart is bigger than she is."

Gomez has worked four times since the La Brea, and she can be positioned anywhere in the race. Trained by Bob Baffert, she has won 4 of 8 for owner-breeder Mike Pegram and is racing beyond 1 1/16 miles for the first time.

The La Canada field also includes El Encino winner has never raced beyond seven furlongs, but trainer Bobby Frankel said he envisions a scenario under which Seafree gets loose.

"I always thought this filly wanted to go long," said Frankel. "I think it will be easier for her. She's very one-paced; her style is two turns. She could get that easy lead."

What she does with the lead could be another story. Seafree, sired by Chief Seattle, has won 3 of 6, but her Beyer Speed Figures are modest. Although the Beyer par for the La Canada winner the past 10 years is 104, three of the last five La Canada winners earned a 95 Beyer or less. Seafree enters with successive Beyers of 92, including a nose win last out in a second-condition sprint.

Paddy's Daisy is a Grade 3 winner on turf and has won 5 of 13, but she has not raced on dirt since her last-place debut as a 2-year-old. According to trainer Patrick Biancone, Paddy's Daisy acts as if dirt will not be an issue.

"She worked really well on this dirt," he said. "She seems to like it. We'll take a shot, and if she doesn't like it we'll go back to turf."

Paddy's Daisy finished fourth last out in a minor turf stakes after trouble at the quarter pole.

Proposed entered the Santa Maria and is expected to stay in that race, but Play Ballado entered only the La Canada. In the El Encino, her first start in California, Play Ballado chased slow fractions and went one-paced late. Her career-best Beyer of 93 begs the question - is she fast enough to win?

Pussycat Doll's last two starts have been her best, and Gomez said he is looking forward to riding a filly who could help him break out of his short-term doldrums. Gomez entered the weekend winning at an 18 percent clip (33 for 182) for the meet, putting him second in the standings, but a 1-for-25 streak into Friday included seven losing favorites.

"That's part of this game," Gomez said. "I'm riding the same way I've been riding. I'm not doing anything different, but the last couple days the horses haven't been there. I can't pick up a 1,000-pound animal and make them go any faster."

Pussycat Doll might not need to. Her most recent route victory one start back would probably be good enough, and if she runs anything close to the 112 Beyer she earned under Gomez in the La Brea, then the La Canada is hers for the taking.