03/06/2002 1:00AM

Captain Squire not for sale this time


ALBANY, Calif. - Trainer Jeff Mullins is done gambling with Captain Squire, who will bring a three-race winning streak into Saturday's El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields.

Mullins entered Captain Squire in a pair of $32,000 maiden claimers and a $62,500 claiming race for his third start. He breathes a sigh of relief now that Captain Squire, a gelded son of Flying Chevron, was not claimed.

"We always knew he was a nice horse," Mullins said. "You didn't have to have him race. Just watching him train, you knew he was a racehorse."

Captain Squire made his debut in a 6 1/2-furlong race at Hollywood Park last Nov. 21. He finished sixth. He won his second start on Dec. 7 at 1 1/16 miles.

"We always knew he'd be better going long," Mullins said.

Mullins couldn't find an allowance race to fill, so he entered the $62,500 claimer at a mile at Santa Anita on Jan. 9. Captain Squire, who won his maiden race by 5 1/2 lengths, won this time by eight and was also nominated to the Triple Crown.

"At that time, if you looked over the whole group of 3-year-olds across the country, there were not a lot of standouts," Mullins said.

Next up was the Feb. 2 Turf Paradise Derby in Phoenix. Captain Squire cruised home by a length as the odds-on choice.

Mullins said the Turf Paradise Derby looked like an easy spot.

The El Camino is not, but that's fine with Mullins.

"It's a test," he said. "That's what he needs at this point. We want to see where we're going. He hasn't been tested yet."

Mullins will also enter Lusty Latin in the race, but he concedes Captain Squire is probably better right now.

Lusty Latin, he said, "will probably be better on the grass going longer," Mullins said. "But I think he has a shot."

Mullins cited Lusty Latin's race against Danthebluegrassman and Cappuchino in the Gold Rush Stakes: "He had a terrible trip, but he was the only horse from off the pace still running at the end."

Captain Squire is Mullins's best hope.

"I think he's been very underestimated," Mullins said. "He's got good tactical speed, but I'm kinda hoping there will be speed in the race for him to lay behind. He's worked great since the Turf Paradise race and has continued to improve every race.

"I don't think he's peaked yet. I don't think he knows he's a racehorse yet. He's like a big teenage kid."

Fillies in feature

Idaho stakes winner Baby Go Baby and My Sand Dollar, stakes placed over the track, are among the eight 3-year-old fillies entered in Friday's one-mile feature at Golden Gate Fields.

Recent maiden winner Glitter Gulch and Jade Necklace, coming off a victory in a starter allowance race, loom the likely favorites for leading trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.