05/01/2002 11:00PM

Senorita mile can lead to Oaks

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Although California's richest race for 3-year-old fillies remains two months away, it is not too soon to start thinking about the inaugural $500,000 American Oaks on July 6 at Hollywood Park.

The Oaks is an invitational at 1 1/4 miles on turf, and Martin Panza, Hollywood Park's racing secretary, will issue invitations only to fillies who have won or placed in a graded stakes.

"We're trying to get it to Grade 1 as soon as possible," Panza explained. In limiting the Oaks to graded stakes-caliber runners, it will be impossible for the graded stakes committee to ignore.

The Oaks will be eligible for graded status in 2004, and the graded-stakes-runners-only Oaks qualification is one reason why the Grade 3 Senorita Stakes on Saturday at Hollywood is more important than the $100,000 purse. Hit the board in the one-mile Senorita, and an invitation to the $500,000 Oaks is a certainty. Finish off the board, and pressure mounts June 8 in the Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap.

Five to 10 starters are expected in the Senorita, led by Irish import High Society. She won her first two starts in Europe, and followed with third- and sixth-place finishes to Johannesburg. High Society won her U.S. debut March 1 for trainer Laura de Seroux in a downhill sprint at Santa Anita, and stretches out to a mile on Saturday.

"I don't think the extra distance will be any problem," said de Seroux. "She relaxed and showed a good turn of foot in the La Habra. One mile may be her best distance." High Society's rider will be Pat Valen-zuela, who figures to have a banner Hollywood card Saturday. That is because much of the Southern California jockey colony will be riding at Churchill Downs. Ten have Kentucky Derby mounts, 11 ride in either the Derby or the undercard.

The Senorita field is expected to include Adoration, whose second-place allowance finish last out was an improved effort over her eighth-place effort versus You and Habibti in the Santa Anita Oaks.

Daisyago, third in the Grade 3 Miesque at Hollywood last November, makes her local comeback. The Miesque winner, Forty on Line, and Nunatall also will run in the Senorita.

The connections of Nunatall will not be in attendance Saturday at Hollywood. Trainer Bobby Frankel, owner Edmund Gann, and jockey Laffit Pincay will be busy with Medaglia d'Oro at Churchill Downs.

* Horseplayers wagered more than $2.7 million into the Hollywood Park pick six pool Wednesday, chasing a one-day carryover of $683,636. Although favorites won only two races in the series, five winners returned less than $10, and the pick six paid just $9,073.40. Five of six returned $101.60.

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