04/03/2003 12:00AM

Crowning a Miss America

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Trainer Art Sherman knows what to expect from Lindsay Jean in Saturday's $75,000-added Miss America Handicap on the turf at Bay Meadows.

"She's got all the talent in the world," said Sherman, who has turned the 5-year-old mare from a flighty, poor sprinter into a graded stakes winner. "She's coming into the race good, and she always lays her body down."

Trainer Jerry Fanning doesn't know what to expect from La Duncan, a 4-year-old Argentine-bred filly who will make her U.S. debut in the 1 1/16-mile race.

"I don't know a lot about her," said Fanning of La Duncan, who won 3 of 4 starts in her native country and beat winners when she scored her first victory.

Lindsay Jean and La Duncan could be the top challengers in the race, which drew nine entrants.

In her first start in nearly six months, Little Treasure, the 119-pound highweight, appears to be the one to beat. A French-bred 4-year-old, she won graded stakes in her first two U.S. starts.

She has speed but can stalk as well, and trainer Laura de Seroux said she "looks ready."

Lindsay Jean has a victory over the course in last spring's Palo Alto and won the Grade 3 Brown Bess on the turf at Golden Gate Fields in her last start, on Feb. 1.

Sherman has gotten her to relax and ration her speed.

"She was wanting to stampede away from [the gate]," Sherman said. "For her to be good, we knew she would have to rate, and now we're getting to where we can rate her.

"She had the talent all the time. Some develop a little sooner. She came around late."

Despite her victory in the graded Brown Bess, Lindsay Jean doesn't figure to go off as the favorite.

"We're always running into some bearcat," Sherman said. "It's not going to be easy, but they're coming to us. They have to ship, and she does train here and is familiar with the paddock."

As for La Duncan, Fanning said, "It looks like she can run."

La Duncan's past two works were a 47.20 bullet half-mile drill and a 1:12.60 six-furlong work.

"When she's by herself, you have to make her work, and she doesn't like that," Fanning said. "She caught some company with her the past two works. In the six-furlong work, she galloped out strong.

"I think she's fit enough, and there's no other place. She's a one-run horse who wants a target in front of her."

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