02/12/2004 12:00AM

'Lenny' tough off record run in last start


ARCADIA, Calif. - The three-race win streak that makes Lennyfromalibu the favorite in Saturday's $100,000 Sensational Star Handicap at Santa Anita may be only a preview of the gelding's ability, trainer Barry Abrams said.

Since returning from a seven-month break last October, has won 3 of 5 starts. He pulled a 25-1 upset in the California Cup Mile last November and has won two optional claimers on the hillside turf course since this meeting began in late December.

The Sensational Star Handicap is run on the hillside turf course for California-breds; Lennyfromalibu is the 120-pound topweight.

"I don't think he's reached his best. I think there is more in him," Abrams said.

Owned by breeder Madeline Auerbach, Lennyfromalibu set a course record of 1:11.13 for about 6 1/2 furlongs on turf in his latest win, on Jan. 22. The previous record of 1:11.24 was set by Glick on Jan. 19.

"I know the track was fast, but it will be hard to break," Abrams said.

At one point last fall, Abrams tried to rate Lennyfromalibu and make the gelding a closer. That idea was abandoned following Lennyfromalibu's eighth-place finish in an optional claimer in late October.

"Then we decided to let him run his race," Abrams said. "As long as they go fast, he'll sit. He's beating better horses, so I know he's improving."

Scheduled as the third race on Saturday's program, the Sensational Star Handicap has drawn nine entrants, including defending champion Spinelessjellyfish. Trained by Jenine Sahadi, Spinelessjellyfish is winless in nine starts since that race, but was third by a head behind Lennyfromalibu on Jan. 22.

Two other runners are coming off wins on the hillside turf course - Blairs General and Hemet Thought.

Blairs General won an optional claimer for California-breds on Jan. 30, closing from well off the pace. Hemet Thought won an optional claimer against open company on Dec. 27, racing from a stalking position.

The pace in the Sensational Star will come from Shadow of Illinois, McCann's Mojave, and Slew's Prince.

The workhorse in the field is Grey Memo, who is making his 52nd start. A 7-year-old who has earned $1,733,059, Grey Memo has fallen on tough times. He is winless in 14 starts since the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar in 2002. In his last start, he was eighth in the Sunshine Millions Classic.

Trained by Warren Stute, Grey Memo has not started on turf since finishing eighth in the Grade 3 Fastness Handicap at Hollywood Park in May 2001.