06/09/2006 12:00AM

Squallacious leaps into deep water


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Squallacious has generated a conspicuous buzz at Hollywood Park. Good horses get people talking, even one that has raced only twice.

How good is Squallacious? The answer will come on Sunday in the Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies that drew a mostly undistinguished field of seven, including Melair Stakes winner She's an Eleven, graded stakes-winning sprinter Bettarun Fast, and Squallacious.

They all have flaws. romped in the Melair for Cal-breds, then got drubbed at even-money in a Grade 3 at Pimlico. Bettarun Fast has won two straight Grade 3 sprints, but the daughter of Kelly Kip is up against it going two turns.

As for Squallacious, she has raced only twice, never run long, and is wheeling back only 11 days after her last start. But that impressive seven-furlong allowance win gives trainer Mike Puype permission to exaggerate.

"I don't think she breathes the same air," he said.

won her six-furlong debut on April 29 with an ordinary 87 Beyer Speed Figure. In her next start May 31, she was pounded to odds-on against older horses in a first-level allowance at seven furlongs, rated behind a wall of horses, waited, split foes, and powered home by 3 1/2 lengths, earning a 99 Beyer.

"I'm not sure it wasn't more than a hard gallop," Puype said. "She's thrown her ears up [in the stretch] both times, and didn't look like she extended herself. She's a total pro for an [unseasoned] horse."

No Oaks starter has been as visually impressive and only one has raced as fast. Hystericalady earned a 101 Beyer last out against 3-year-olds at Golden Gate. The past 10 years, the median Beyer for an Oaks winner is 100.

Squallacious would be the second recent Hollywood Oaks winner to win in her third career start; Manistique won the 1998 Oaks following runaway wins her first two starts.

The question for Squallacious on Sunday is whether she is Breeders' Cup-caliber, or just a good allowance sprinter trying too much too soon.

"We know what we're tackling," Puype said. "But I don't think a two-other-than will fill. It's either grass or hit the road."

The field also includes allowance-caliber fillies Hystericalady, , Chosen Royalty, and Downthedustyroad, who makes her first start for trainer Bob Baffert.