10/03/2001 11:00PM

Ceeband's riddle: Is six too short?

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One of the few things working against Ceeband in Saturday's $100,000 California Sprint Championship at Bay Meadows is the race's six-furlong distance.

Ceeband is already a graded stakes winner, having won the Grade 2 Triple Bend Breeders' Cup Handicap at Hollywood Park in July, and is trained by John Sadler, who is having a strong year. Plus, he will be ridden by top jockey Russell Baze.

But the California Sprint Championship, restricted to state-breds, may be too short for Ceeband, Sadler fears. All of his five career wins have been over 6 1/2 and seven furlongs.

"My problem is, I have a seven-furlong horse and no races," Sadler said.

Sadler considered Ceeband for the Vosburgh Stakes at Belmont Park last month but the disrupted plane schedule following the terrorist attacks put an end to those plans.

Eager to avoid Kona Gold in Saturday's Ancient Title Handicap at Santa Anita and wanting a prep for the California Cup Sprint at Santa Anita on Nov. 3, Sadler chose Saturday's race.

"He wasn't Breeders' Cup eligible so it didn't make any sense to try that," Sadler said.

The seven runners in the California Sprint Championship include four shippers from Southern California and three locally-based horses. Of the locals, Reds Superstar, the winner of two stakes on the fair circuit during the summer, has the best form. Like Ceeband, he has proven to be most effective over longer distances.

Gibson County, an invader trained by Bob Baffert, is likely to lead, but may face an early threat from Simony, who is making his stakes debut.

Gibson County won the Answer Do Stakes over 5 1/2 furlongs on turf at Hollywood Park, but was seventh in the restricted Pirate's Bounty Handicap at Del Mar on Sept. 1.

Reds Superstar will be close to the front along with Radar Contact. Trained by Larry Ross, Radar Contact placed in two stakes on the fairs before winning a six-furlong allowance race at Bay Meadows on Sept. 21.

Ceeband, the 120-pound highweight, will be farther back along with Today a Star, a stakes winner at Bay Meadows in 1999 who was third in the Ernest Finley Handicap at Santa Rosa in July.

"I think if we can get some decent speed, we'll be okay," Sadler said. "What could scare me is a small field and if someone gets out there."