05/06/2005 12:00AM

Senorita a starting point

Benoit & Associates
Shining Energy, Rene Douglas up, tries two turns again in the Senorita.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The day after the Kentucky Derby can be anticlimactic, but at Hollywood Park on Sunday, the Grade 3 Senorita Stakes gets it all started for 3-year-old fillies on grass.

A field of 10 will go a mile on turf in the $100,000 Senorita, which is the first of two preps for the centerpiece of the meet - the Grade 1 American Oaks at 1 1/4 miles July 3. The Senorita and Grade 2 Honeymoon at 1 1/8 miles on June 5 will sort out the division, and as always, the competition will get tougher as the distances get longer.

may have been exposed as a late-running sprinter last month, when he finished fifth as the 3-2 favorite in the Grade 3 Providencia Stakes at 1 1/8 miles at Santa Anita. A stakes winner with a 2-for-7 record, Shining Energy gets another crack at two turns Sunday, and if she can reproduce her sprint form at a mile, she fits. Julio Canani trains Shining Energy.

has improved running long on turf. She stretched out and scored an upset in a minor stakes in March, and then finished third in the Providencia. Thatswhatimean, who is 2 for 6 in her career, is owned by B. Wayne Hughes and trained by Warren Stute, who spent the week at Churchill Downs preparing Greeley's Galaxy for the Kentucky Derby.

enters the Senorita on a conspicuous upward pattern for trainer Laura de Seroux. She began her career in France by winning 1 of 3, and has 3 seconds from 4 starts in the U.S. That includes a runner-up finish in the Grade 3 Miesque Stakes on this course in th fall and a runner-up finish last out in the Providenica.

The Senorita field is modest in quality. Berbatim, the Providencia winner trained by Richard Mandella, is skipping the Senorita to prep in the Honeymoon. Melhor Ainda, possibly the best 3-year-old turf filly in the country, is based in the East with Bobby Frankel.

The other Senorita starters are still trying to emerge as legitimate stakes fillies. Three Degrees stretches out following two sharp sprint wins at Santa Anita; Unusual Spring is unproven against open company but is returning to her preferred turf surface; Royal Wave is trying two turns for the first time; Virden won 3 of 6 at Turf Paradise; and Mashina disappointed in her U.S. debut.

Two others aim for upsets: Trainer John Shirreffs starts unproven Dramatic following a maiden victory, and Ron McAnally chose the Senorita as the starting point for Private Banking. An import from France, Private Banking won both starts last summer at Chantilly and Deauville at six furlongs.