01/03/2003 12:00AM

Three threats with major flaws


ARCADIA, Calif. - Something will have to change for one of the three leading contenders to find the winner's circle in Sunday's $100,000 Sensational Star Handicap at Santa Anita.

Spinelessjellyfish, the 119-pound highweight, has not won in 16 months, a span of 13 races.

Turkish Prize won the California Cup Mile last November, but has been racing in the last year at distances farther than about 6 1/2 furlongs, the trip on the downhill course for the Sensational Star.

Finally, Macward is winless in six starts since he won this race last year, including four losses on the hillside course.

All three are capable of winning with top efforts, but face challenges from Lennyfromalibu, a winner over the course and distance, and Gibson County, a sprint stakes winner in 2001. The longshots Ride and Shine, and Sea to See also start.

Spinelessjellyfish will have a new jockey for the first time since April.

Julie Krone replaces G.F. Almeida, who was aboard for Spinelessjellyfish's last seven starts. That span includes a second in the California Cup Mile and a third in the On Trust Handicap on dirt at Hollywood Park on Nov. 23.

"I've got to try something," trainer Jenine Sahadi said.

Turkish Prize was claimed five times in 2002. He began the season with Richard Mandella, and was claimed by Julio Canani, Mike Machowsky, Ted H. West, Machowsky a second time, and again by West. He was claimed for $50,000 the first three times and on the final two occasions for $62,500.

In his first start for West following the claim on Oct. 9, Turkish Prize pulled an upset at 8-1 in the California Cup Mile. It was his shortest race of the year, which included starts up to 1 1/2 miles on turf against claimers.

In 1999, Turkish Prize won the Sensational Star Handicap, his second and most recent victory in 11 starts on the hillside course. In 2001, Turkish Prize finished sixth in the Sensational Star Handicap.

"The race is a little short, but I think [Turkish Prize] will run a sharp race," said Ted West, the trainer's father. "I think he'll do pretty good over 6 1/2 furlongs."

Macward finished sixth in the Morvich Handicap on the hillside course in November, but was sixth in a one-mile allowance race at Hollywood Park on Nov. 28. "I'm still trying to figure out why he ran dull in the last race," trainer Ian Jory said. "We can't find any reason. The hill is his deal."