07/23/2002 11:00PM

Contenders all have their flaws

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DEL MAR, Calif. - Questions surround the form of several of the leading contenders in Friday's $125,000 California Thoroughbred Breeders Association Stakes at Del Mar.

Global Finance won the Nursery Stakes at Hollywood Park in May but was 10th as the favorite in the Cinderella Stakes on June 2. The result left her trainer dismayed.

Magic Smoke won the Cinderella but was eighth as the favorite in the Grade 3 Landaluce Stakes on July 4. "She didn't handle the dirt coming back," trainer Sandy Shulman said.

Add the presence of Hostility, a stakes winner at Bay Meadows on June 15; Little Bit a Swiss and Spirit Run, who were third and sixth, respectively, in the Landaluce; and the promising maiden winners Amber Hills and Golden KK, and the CTBA Stakes is wide-open.

The CTBA Stakes, for 2-year-old California-bred fillies over 5 1/2 furlongs, provides a mix of fillies seeking refuge in statebred races and promising prospects using the race as a springboard to graded stakes.

Global Finance, Magic Smoke, and Little Bit a Swiss are eligible in both categories.

Jerry Dutton, who trains and co-owns Global Finance with his wife, Barbara, has no idea what to expect in the CTBA Stakes. Global Finance has two wins in four starts, but is not drawn well on the rail, a post that produced one winner from 34 races over 5 1/2 furlongs in 2001.

"We'll have to wait and see," Dutton said. "She looked good working in 59 seconds and has come back all right."

Little Bit a Swiss has yet to win a stakes, but was second, beaten 1 1/4 lengths by Magic Smoke in the Cinderella Stakes. She was third by the same margin in the Landaluce Stakes behind Buffythecenterfold.

A top contender in the Landaluce, Little Bit a Swiss was four wide at the top of the stretch and seemed well placed, but could not catch the winner in the final two furlongs.

"She did come on strong at the end," trainer Patricia Harrington said. "She sort of faltered at the quarter pole. Some horses lose interest, but she was running at the finish. She's still in school."

Hostility and Spirit Run can win, but may compromise each other on the lead.

Hostility won the Time to Leave Stakes at Bay Meadows over five furlongs on June 15, but has never run 5 1/2 furlongs.

Spirit Run was sixth in the Landaluce Stakes after challenging for the lead. She may have the speed to lead this field turning for home.

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