05/02/2007 11:00PM

Recharged 'Pussycat' eyes repeat


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - It took Pussycat Doll only 1:21.60 to win the Grade 1 Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs on Derby Day 2006 and nearly nine months to recover from that effort. On Saturday, Pussycat Doll returns to defend her title in the $300,000 Humana Distaff in a race that also features the return of three-time Grade 1 winner Bushfire.

Trainer Bob Baffert said Pussycat Doll was simply "worn out" after rallying to defeat her stablemate Behaving Badly in last year's Humana Distaff. She did not race again until Jan. 28 at Santa Anita, where she captured the Grade 1 Santa Monica Handicap by four widening lengths. The win was the fourth in the last five starts for the 5-year-old Pussycat Doll, whose only setback since November 2005 came in the 1o1/8-mile La Canada Stakes in her 2006 debut.

Bushfire has not started since finishing nearly 42 lengths behind Round Pond in the Breeders' Cup Distaff here on Nov. 4. Bushfire captured 5 of 9 starts last year at 3, including the Grade 1 Ashland, Grade 1 Acorn, and Grade 1 Mother Goose stakes. She has posted a couple of bullet works for her return, topped off by a half-mile drill in 45.60 seconds at Keeneland.

"She's doing great and I think we have her pretty fit for her return," said Eddie Kenneally, who trains Bushfire. "I think this distance is fine for her to start back, and a good starting point to gradually begin stretching her out for some of the longer races later in the year."

Sweet Fervor comes off a pair of victories at Gulfstream to open her 2007 campaign, including a come-from-behind one-length win in the Grade 2 Shirley Jones BC on March 17.

Shaggy Mane is without a doubt the one to catch. A former $8,000 claimer, Shaggy Mane has not been outrun for the early lead since the first start of her career and has not started since carrying her abundant speed to an easy 7 3/4-length triumph over Grade 1 winner Swap Fliparoo in Gulfstream Park's six-furlong Sunshine Millions Filly and mare Sprint on Jan 27.

Grade 1 winner Wildcat Bettie B, who was left in the dust by stablemate Hard Spun in a well-documented five-furlong workout here on Monday, has lost her last two starts after posting three consecutive victories. One of those wins came in Belmont's Grade 1 Prioress on July 8.