12/17/2003 12:00AM

Cyber Slew fits better here

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Stakes may be in Cyber Slew's future, but for now she seems best suited to races like Friday's seventh at Hollywood Park, a $38,000 optional claimer for California-breds.

After finishing in the top three in her first four starts, Cyber Slew was last in the California Cup Matron on Nov. 8.

She returned to finish second in an allowance race on Nov. 23, and faces a similar field in Friday's six-furlong race.

The runner-up finish last month helped to erase the disappointment from the California Cup, trainer Doug O'Neill said.

"Russell Baze said she lost contact and was not very aggressive," O'Neill said. "He kind of eased up on her."

Friday's race has drawn eight 3- and 4-year-old fillies, but only Cyber Slew is stakes placed in Southern California. Owned by Rancho Ballena, she finished a well-beaten third in the 1 1/16-mile Marian Stakes at Fairplex Park in September.

Cyber Slew's lone career win in six starts came in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden race for California-breds at Del Mar, her second race.

She led throughout in that race, a style that O'Neill insists is not vital to success for her.

"I don't think she needs the lead," he said. "She seems like she could go on."

In Friday's race, Cyber Slew may not keep pace early with Rosarita Beach, Runaway Mother, or Spectacular Anzi.

Rosarita Beach has not been worse than second in five starts, but has faced only claimers or starter allowance company. Friday's race is her first start since winning a starter allowance at Santa Anita on Oct. 31.

Runaway Mother cost $200,000 at the 2001 Del Mar yearling sale. Trained by Jeff Bonde for Rancho San Miguel and the Ferro Family Trust, Runaway Mother needed four races to beat maidens, doing so at 34-1 at Golden Gate Fields on Nov. 13. This is her first start in Southern California.

Spectacular Anzi was third in a minor stakes on dirt at Turf Paradise last March and subsequently won an allowance race at 5 1/2 furlongs. She has been a disappointment in her last three starts, all on turf, finishing no closer than sixth.

A fast pace would not only help Cyber Slew but could aid the comeback of Thunder's Echo. Trained by Craig Dollase, Thunder's Echo won a maiden race here last December, but is winless in four starts this year. She has not started since finishing fourth in an allowance race here in May.