06/29/2006 11:00PM

Second money looking pretty good

Attima takes the Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap with a performance impressive enough to keep down the number of challengers in the American Oaks.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The two wins that Attima has achieved in the last two months have given her an aura of invincibility in Sunday's $750,000 American Oaks at Hollywood Park.

Rival trainers speak glowingly of their respective fillies, but are quick to heap praise on Attima, who will start favored in the Oaks after an impressive win in the Grade 2 Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap on June 4.

"I don't think you can beat her," trainer Paddy Gallagher said of Attima.

Gallagher knows Attima well. His American Oaks starter, Proxenia, was second to Attima in an allowance race on May 10 and third in the Honeymoon.

was confirmed as a starter only on Wednesday, after trainer Julio Canani spent two weeks deliberating his plans.

Previous runnings of the American Oaks drew fields of 12 to 14, but Attima will have to beat only seven other 3-year-old fillies on Sunday, including the Japanese filly Asahi Rising. If Asahi Rising were to win the Oaks, run at 1 1/4 miles, the win would be the second straight in the race for a filly from Japan. Last year, Cesario won the American Oaks.

The Grade 1 American Oaks is the eighth race on an 11-race program that features four other stakes worth $100,000 or more, including three Grade 1's. The card features a $1 million guaranteed pool in the pick six. First post is noon Pacific.

Aside from Attima, there are four other locally based fillies in the Oaks, Foxysox, Proxenia and Galileo's Star - who were second through fourth in the Honeymoon - and Sol Mi Fa, the winner of the Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Oaks. All five began their careers in Europe.

The lone domestic invader is , who was fourth (placed third) in the Kentucky Oaks. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Wait a While makes her turf stakes debut in the American Oaks. She won the Grade 3 Sands Point Stakes on the Belmont Park main track on June 3, a race originally scheduled for turf. Wait a While has made one start on turf, winning a one-mile maiden race by five lengths at Belmont Park last September.

"I think you can still argue that her maiden race on the turf was her most impressive race," Pletcher said.

was a stakes winner in Canada last year, and is making her first start beyond 1 1/16 miles.

, a stakes winner earlier this year, will play a pivotal role in the American Oaks. She is expected to have the early lead.

In her last start in Japan, Asahi Rising led for much of the Japanese Oaks at 1 1/2 miles but was caught late and finished third by a length.

"She's a front-runner," trainer Masaaki Koga said. "I think this distance is better. I think this turf can suit her."

Canani wants Asahi Rising to lead so Attima can have a target. Attima inherited the lead in the Honeymoon and led throughout.

"She did it effortlessly," Canani said. "But if she can follow somebody, it will be better."

David Flores will ride Attima. He replaces Victor Espinoza, who committed to Asahi Rising before Canani said that Attima would start in the American Oaks.

For months, the American Oaks has been a goal for Foxysox, who won her first four starts in the United States before finishing 1 1/4 lengths behind Attima in the Honeymoon.

Trainer Carla Gaines is holding out hope for an upset by Foxysox.

"I think I can, but the distance is a question," Gaines said. "I'm hoping there will be more pace, that would be a positive for my horse."

Others, such as Gallagher, are just hoping for part of a lucrative purse.

"We're hoping she can hit the board," Gallagher said of Proxenia. "She keeps moving forward a little bit. If she can be placed, I'll be happy."

Against a promising filly such as Attima, that may be the most reasonable goal.

The field

American Oaks
Purse: $750,000; 1 1/4 miles, turf; Grade 1

1Asahi RisingV. Espinoza5-1
2Sol Mi FaP. Valenzuela8-1
3ArravaleC. Nakatani8-1
4Galileo's StarN. Arroyo Jr.20-1
5AttimaD. Flores2-1
6FoxysoxA. Bisono6-1
7Wait a WhileG. Gomez5-2
8ProxeniaA. Solis12-1

* All starters carry 121 pounds
* Track odds