09/19/2007 11:00PM

Search is on for Pussycat Doll's old self

EmailELMONT, N.Y. - The Pussycat Doll of last year or even four months ago would be tough to beat in Saturday's $150,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap at Belmont Park. But the Pussycat Doll of last month would have a hard time hitting the board in the Grade 2 stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Which Pussycat Doll shows up on Saturday is anybody's guess, but her connections have done what they can to make sure the multiple Grade 1-winning mare gives an improved effort from her eighth-place finish in the Grade 1 Ballerina. Nine days before the Ballerina, Pussycat Doll finished fourth in the Grade 3 Rancho Bernardo Handicap at Del Mar.

According to Tonja Terranova, who is assisting trainer Bob Baffert with his New York string, Pussycat Doll acted up in the race-day security barn as well as the Saratoga paddock before the Ballerina.

In an effort to combat that, Pussycat Doll was schooled both in the security barn and the paddock. One day, Pussycat Doll spent an hour in the security barn and came over with the field before the first race. She has schooled several times in the paddock and has seemed more settled.

"She was over there for a good hour and everything went smooth, and she was good in the paddock," Terranova said. "When she's run her best races, she's been well-behaved in the paddock. Hopefully, here it will be a little quieter and she'll settle."

Pussycat Doll, who won the Grade 1 Humana Distaff last year and the Grade 1 Santa Monica this year is the 119-pound highweight and will break from post 2 under Shaun Bridgmohan.

Great Intentions won this race last year and is 3 for 4 over Belmont's main track. She has not run since finishing seventh in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap in February. Trainer Mike Hushion said Great Intentions jammed her shoulders in that race and was given time off.

Great Intentions was entered in an overnight stakes on May 20, but was scratched after she broke through the starting gate.

"They said she hit it pretty hard with her head," trainer Mike Hushion said. "She needed some time off. It's always a concern when it's been a while since they ran, but I certainly worked her hard enough to be fit enough to go 6 1/2 furlongs."

If Jazzy, trained by Mark Hennig, can transfer her turf form to dirt, she could be tough, especially in this speed-laden field. In addition to Great Intentions, Cuaba and Princess Janie figure to be on or near the lead.