11/10/2006 12:00AM

Skirball-Kenis just right for La Mottie


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The turf filly La Mottie has traveled from England to New York to California looking for easier company, faster ground, and a better trip. She may find all three Sunday at Hollywood Park.

La Mottie drops in class and switches to firm turf for the $60,000 Audrey Skirball-Kenis Stakes, a nine-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies. Based on outstanding European form, La Mottie is the most likely winner, assuming she gets clear sailing in the 11-runner field.

Ben Cecil trains La Mottie, who was 1 for 4 this year in England. But after a smashing June comeback, her only luck was bad. La Mottie was second by a head to subsequent Group 1 winner Red Evie, had a nightmare trip and finished fourth in a listed stakes, and followed with a third-place finish on "good" footing that was slower than she prefers.

Owner Trevor Harris (Lordship Stud) shipped La Mottie to Belmont Park for the Grade 1 Garden City on Sept. 9, but she caught another "good" course and ran sixth.

"It was not necessarily as bad as it looks on paper," Cecil said. "She dropped out, was running on at the end, and the rider was easy on her."

Cecil took over La Mottie following the Garden City, gave her a freshening, and aimed her for the Skirball-Kenis. It will be La Mottie's first start in two months.

"She has trained very well and should like this turf course," Cecil said. "We'd like to get a stakes win into her before the end of the year; this is a good spot to do it. It's not an easy race, but she's a good filly."

La Mottie has won 2 of 9 overall and will be ridden by Corey Nakatani.

The Skirball-Kenis is the final Southern California turf stakes restricted to 3-year-old fillies. It leads to the Grade 2 Dahlia Handicap for fillies and mares on closing day, Dec. 18.

Zoemeg had a tough trip when she finished third on Oct. 15 in the Harold Ramser at Santa Anita, Citronnade drops from the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth Cup at Keeneland, and Viapervita makes her U.S. debut after winning 2 of 5 in Europe.

Grande Melody drew off from allowance runners in her U.S. debut at Keeneland, though the race probably looks better on paper. Grande Melody saved ground throughout, angled out after turning for home, and finished well. Trained by Patrick Biancone, Grande Melody has won 2 of 5 and will be ridden by Julien Leparoux.