06/01/2006 12:00AM

Two in a row an elusive goal


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Star Parade will make her 21st consecutive appearance in a graded stakes when she starts as the favorite in Saturday's $175,000 at Hollywood Park.

It is a remarkable streak of racing at the highest level, a span that includes six stakes wins, including a front-running victory in the Grade 3 Hawthorne Handicap here on May 7. Star Parade's consistency has left trainer Darrell Vienna confident that the 7-year-old mare can win consecutive stakes for the first time in more than two years in the Grade 2 Milady, a 1 1/16-mile race she won in 2004.

"It's hard to believe that she's staying at this level the way she is," Vienna said. "She's just a tough mare. She's in a zone right now."

Star Parade has one flaw: she rarely wins two straight. The exception came in the winter of 2003-04, when she won the Bayakoa Handicap at Hollywood Park in December and returned to win the Santa Maria Handicap at Santa Anita in February.

Star Parade won the Santa Maria again this year, but followed that with a fifth-place finish in the Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park in April.

The Hawthorne was her first start since the Apple Blossom. Star Parade rebounded brilliantly. She set her own pace under jockey Martin Pedroza and won by 1 3/4 lengths. None of the four fillies and mares who finished behind her is starting in the Milady. Instead, Star Parade will be challenged by Freakin Streakin, Memorette, Proposed, and Somethingaboutlaura.

Of those, all but Memorette runs near the front. Vienna insists that Star Parade can adapt if the pace is quick.

"It just doesn't matter," he said. "If they don't go, she'll take the lead. If not, she can rate."

Earlier this year, Star Parade stalked the pace in the Santa Maria Handicap before pulling clear to win by two lengths.

Proposed finished second to Star Parade in the Santa Maria and may have the best chance for an upset on Saturday. Trained by John Shirreffs, Proposed won the Grade 2 El Encino Stakes in January and the B. Thoughtful Stakes at seven furlongs here on April 30.

Memorette was entered in this race over the Gamely Breeders' Cup Stakes on turf last Monday. She has yet to win a graded stakes in nine attempts. A quick pace increases her chances for an upset.