06/04/2003 11:00PM

Sprint stakes has rematch and more


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The rematch of Cee's Elegance and Jetinto Houston, the first two finishers in a thrilling B. Thoughtful Stakes on April 26, is only one subplot in an intriguing running of the $100,000 Desert Stormer Handicap at Hollywood Park on Saturday.

Cee's Elegance and Jetinto Houston were separated by only three-quarters of a length in the seven-furlong B. Thoughtful. They will have more than each other to contend with in the Grade 3 Desert Stormer, for fillies and mares over six furlongs.

Madame Pietra, unbeaten in three consecutive stakes, will be making her first start since January. The 121-pound topweight for the Desert Stormer, the 6-year-old Madame Pietra won the Corona Handicap over six furlongs here last December.

Bear Fan risks her unbeaten record in her fifth start. The winner of the Fleet Treat Stakes for 3-year-old California-bred fillies last summer at Del Mar, Bear Fan tuned up for the Desert Stormer with a dead-heat win in an allowance race at Bay Meadows last month, her only start of the year.

Palmarola will also start. She won the CERF Handicap at Del Mar last September, but was last of eight in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff Handicap at Churchill Downs on May 3 in her 2003 debut.

The six-furlong distance may better suit Jetinto Houston than Cee's Elegance. Trained by Jenine Sahadi for Team Valor Stable and Gary Barber, Jetinto Houston won the Irish O'Brien Stakes over 6 1/2 furlongs on dirt at Santa Anita in March. In the B. Thoughtful, she dueled for the lead before being caught by Cee's Elegance.

"I was thrilled with that race and the race before," Sahadi said. "She's happy and I think three-quarters will be just fine."

Cee's Elegance had an ideal trip on April 26. She was a length behind the leaders on the backstretch, challenged Jetinto Houston in early stretch under Victor Espinoza, and was all out to hold her advantage.

"Victor has gotten her to settle," trainer Doug O'Neill said. "She's got the speed where she can go and battle a horse on the lead. I think she's blessed with a lot of natural speed."

Owned by Cee's Stable, Cee's Elegance placed in two stakes over 1 1/16 miles last winter, showing more patience than she displayed when she joined O'Neill's stable last year. "The thing I screwed up early was I was working her too fast and getting her cranked up," O'Neill said.

Cee's Elegance may need that speed to be effective in a strong field in the Desert Stormer.