05/26/2001 12:00AM

Europe's top filly returns in sprint

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Superstar Leo, Europe's champion 2-year-old filly of 2000, makes her first start of the year against seasoned older horses in the five-furlong Group 2 Temple Stakes at Sandown Park south of London on Monday.

Owned by Roy and Gretchen Jackson of Pennsylvania, Superstar Leo will be kept to sprinting this year and may even be limited to races at five furlongs by trainer Bill Haggas.

A sharp second to European champion sprinter Namid in the Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp in her last start nine months ago, Superstar Leo will be tested to the full on Sandown's straight, uphill five-furlong course by Nuclear Debate and Bertolini.

Nuclear Debate returns to turf after a creditable fourth to Caller One in the Dubai Golden Shaheen in which Bertolini was third. Since then, the Godolphin-owned Bertolini has finished a disappointing fourth in the Group 3 Palace House Stakes at Newmarket.

Though lacking condition, Superstar Leo will be getting 14 pounds from Nuclear Debate and seven from Bertolini and will prove difficult to beat.