01/17/2002 12:00AM

Top filly starts '02 at Los Al

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Tiny First Effort, named 2001's champion 3-year-old filly Wednesday night, begins her 4-year-old campaign in the Grade 1, $125,000 Charger Bar Handicap at Los Alamitos on Saturday night.

The 400-yard Charger Bar Handicap is one of just three Grade 1 races for fillies and mares.

Tiny First Effort, owned by Henry Brown and trained by Donna McArthur, earned her championship on the strength of five wins and a second from seven starts in 2001. She concluded her 2001 campaign with two straight wins, including the Grade 1 Southern California Derby on Dec. 14.

Tiny First Effort will start from the seventh post position in the full field of 10 with Sam Thompson up.

Sharing 124-pound highweight honors with Tiny First Effort is the 8-year-old Flare for Toby, a veteran of 50 starts owned by 2001's champion breeder, Dr. Ed Allred, and trained by Kelly Lewis.

Flare for Toby had one her best campaigns in 2001, when she won the Grade 1 Mildred Vessels Handicap and the Grade 2 Las Damas Handicap, a pair of stakes for females.

Her yearling, transferred to a recipient mare as an embryo, sold for $185,000 at the PCQHRA Yearling Sale.

Bassett given 45-day suspension

Trainer John Bassett, who sent out the top two finishers in the Grade 1, $2.2 million All American Futurity and was named 2001 champion trainer, has been given a 45-day suspension by the New Mexico Racing Commission. He was also fined $1,500 and is on probation for one year.

The ruling is a result of one of Bassett's horses, Mega Dark, having tested positive for derivatives of cocaine in June. Mega Dark crossed the finish line in fourth place in a trial to a New Mexico-bred futurity at Ruidoso Downs. The race's purse was $2,200 and Mega Dark would have earned $88 for finishing fourth.

A former assistant trainer to Bassett, a Bassett employee at the time of the incident, also tested positive for cocaine.

"I guess he had the cocaine on his fingers and directly hit the horse," Bassett said. "The horse gets tested, it comes back positive and the rest is history."