08/26/2003 11:00PM

Longer trip can help Crazy Ensign

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DEL MAR, Calif. - Crazy Ensign ended a 10-race losing streak when she won a one-mile allowance race on July 31. Friday, she stretches out to 1 3/8 miles on turf in the $75,000 California Thoroughbred Trainers and Thoroughbred Owners of California Handicap at Del Mar, and will be a strong favorite over a distance that will probably be more to her liking.

In Argentina, Crazy Ensign won Group 1 races from about 1 1/4 miles to 1 9/16 miles, racing on turf and dirt, in 1999 and 2000. She finished second in three stakes races at 1 1/4 to 1 3/8 miles during those years.

Since arriving in this country, most of Crazy Ensign's races have been between one mile and 1 1/8 miles. She has made only one start at 1 1/4 miles or longer, finishing third in the Beverly Hills Handicap at Hollywood Park in 2002.

Not surprisingly, Crazy Ensign is the 121-pound topweight in the CTT and TOC Handicap.

"I don't think the distance is a problem," trainer Richard Mandella said. "The other day she circled the field and won pretty easy."

Mandella says the key to riding Crazy Ensign over a longer race is delaying her rally. In the one-mile allowance race on July 31, jockey Alex Solis had Crazy Ensign in seventh with a quarter-mile remaining. She was third at the eighth pole, and won by two lengths over Little Treasure, a graded stakes winner last year.

There is not much competition at that level in Friday's race. Most of her opponents made their last starts in allowance races.

Se Vera and Tifonica are exceptions. Se Vera, a stakes winner in Chile last year, finished last of five in the Beverly Hills Handicap in June. Tifonica finished seventh against males in the Grade 2 Sunset Handicap at Hollywood Park last month. Tifonica won a first-condition allowance race at 1 1/4 miles on turf at Hollywood Park in early June, a race that makes her competitive against this field.

Shariya started against males in her last start, finishing second to Runaway Dancer at 1 3/8 miles on turf on July 24. The result was flattered when Runaway Dancer returned to win another turf marathon on Monday.

Two starters won stakes races in France last year - Spark Sept. and Christel Flame. Neither has won since they began racing in the United States.

Their erratic form could help Crazy Ensign, who has thrived at Del Mar, Mandella said.

"She's really done well down here," Mandella said. "I think she's a surfer girl."