08/03/2002 12:00AM

Little Treasure takes San Clemente


DEL MAR, Calif. - Little Treasure launched her U.S. career with a hard-fought win in Saturday's $150,000 San Clemente Handicap at Del Mar, surviving a stretch-long challenge.

Ridden by Kent Desormeaux, Little Treasure won by a nose over 23-1 Pina Colada who rallied along the rail to miss by a nose. Little Treasure finished a mile on turf in 1:33.97.

Second early behind the pacesetter Super High, Little Treasure took the lead in early stretch, but was pressured through the stretch by Arabic Song and Pina Colada. "We were smoking in the last eighth," Desormeaux said.

Little Treasure was all out to hold off Pina Colada, who saved ground throughout.

"I was glad Kent was so patient," said trainer Laura de Seroux said. "I told him that she has a sustained kick."

Arabic Song finished third in the field of nine 3-year-old fillies.

Little Treasure was making her first start after being acquired by a partnership in June.

A winner of 5 of 8 starts and $133,209, Little Treasure won a listed stakes in France in May - the Prix de Bagatelle, her stakes debut.

*In the $78,385 Fantastic Girl Stakes, Warren's Whistle ended a 13-race losing streak with her first win since September. Ridden by G.F. Almeida, Warren's Whistle ($10) ran six furlongs in 1:09.75, finishing 2 1-2 lengths in front of Madame Pietra.

Kona Queen was third in the field of six fillies and mares.