07/18/2003 12:00AM

Success at a higher level

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Cee's Elegance, the latest California-bred to become a graded stakes winner, is having a breakthrough campaign.

After winning her first stakes last fall, in the Cat's Cradle Handicap at Hollywood Park, Cee's Elegance has continued in top form, winning the B. Thoughtful Stakes against California-breds in April and the $250,000 A Gleam Handicap last Sunday, a Grade 2 stakes over seven furlongs.

The win in the A Gleam came against proven Grade 1 fillies and mares such as Affluent and You, and has given trainer Doug O'Neill and owner Cees Stable reason to consider the $150,000 Rancho Bernardo Handicap over 6 1/2 furlongs for females on Aug. 23 for Cee's Elegance's next start.

A winner of 6 of 31 starts and more than $700,000, Cee's Elegance has won all her stakes at Hollywood Park as well as a $70,000 allowance race on the 2001 California Gold Rush program there. At Santa Anita, she finished second in the $750,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff over 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 25, losing to the favored Smok'n Frolic.

O'Neill began training Cee's Elegance in early 2002. He admits it took time to realize that she is best as a stalker.

"She's been incredible," O'Neill said. "We learned that she didn't want to work fast and that she wanted to sit off the pace."

Cee's Elegance was bred by the late Cecilia Straub-Rubens, who is well known as the owner-breeder of Tiznow, the 2000 Horse of the Year.

A 6-year-old, Cee's Elegance is by Cee's Tizzy and is out of Elegant Beauty, who is by Norcliffe. Elegant Beauty, a foal of 1979, was a winner. She is the dam of 14 foals and 11 winners, including the stakes-placed runners Davus and Cee's Dude. Cee's Tizzy, 16, is one of the top sires in California and stands for $15,000 at Harris Farms in Coalinga.

Cee's Elegance's win helped push Cee's Tizzy past the $1 million in progeny earnings for 2003. Through Thursday, Cee's Tizzy was 14th on the 2003 list of California-based stallions with earnings of $1,138,161.

In Excess leads the list with $2.7 million in earnings.

Last year, Cee's Tizzy finished with $1.4 million and was 19th on the list of California-based stallions.

Status quo at Del Mar

There are no changes to the seven stakes for California-breds during the Del Mar meeting, which begins Wednesday.

The program begins on Friday with the $125,000 California Thoroughbred Breeders Association Stakes over 5 1/2 furlongs for 2-year-old fillies. Among the expected runners are maiden winners Bronze Route and Tizdubai, and Alpenwald, who was fourth in the Landaluce Stakes at Hollywood on July 4.

The $100,000 Fleet Treat Stakes for 3-year-old fillies over seven furlongs is on the undercard of the Grade 1 Eddie Read Handicap next Sunday. Summer Wind Dancer, the winner of the California Cup Juvenile Fillies last November, returns from a layoff. She will face Pocketfullofpesos, the winner of the California Breeders' Champion Stakes.

Two stakes winners from the 2003 Hollywood Park meet are expected for the $125,000 Graduation Stakes for 2-year-olds over 5 1/2 furlongs July 30. Alpenfest, the winner of the Willard Proctor Memorial Stakes, will face Stalking Tiger, the winner of the Haggin Stakes.

The open equivalent of the Fleet Treat is the $100,000 Real Good Deal Stakes over seven furlongs on Aug. 11.

There are three stakes for California-breds in September. The $125,000 Solana Beach Handicap for fillies and mares over 1 1/16 miles on turf may include last year's winner, Super High, who has returned to training with Carla Gaines after being sent to the farm because of an injury last winter.

In the final days of the meeting, there are two sprint stakes for 2-year-olds. The $100,000 Generous Portion Stakes for fillies is run over six furlongs on Sept. 3. The open equivalent is the I'm Smokin Stakes Sept. 8.