11/22/2002 12:00AM

D's Bertrando figures best


ALBANY, Calif. - D's Bertrando, who recorded the highest Beyer Speed Figure for any 2-year-old runner this year in his last start, is scheduled to make his stakes debut on Sunday in the $60,000-added Golden Bear Stakes at Golden Gate Fields.

D's Bertrando, who will be coupled with Timely Jeff for trainer Jeff Bonde, looms the heavy favorite in the six-furlong race, which attracted six entrants.

In his last start, D's Bertrando earned a 105 Beyer when he won his maiden by 13 lengths and ran six furlongs in 1:08.49. Later that day, Halo Cat beat a good field of older stakes runners in 1:09.42 at the same distance.

After entering the colt on Friday, Bonde said that he would make a final decision on D's Bertrando's status on Sunday.

"The question is do we want to run him back in 14 days," Bonde said. "That is what we have to decide."

Bonde trains three of the six entered - D's Bertrando, Timely Jeff, and Bases Are Loaded.

Bases Are Loaded beat D's Bertrando to win his maiden and came back with a solid second-place effort against Gray Jag, who will also run in the Golden Bear.

"His last two races have been very good," said Bonde, who admittedly was surprised Bases Are Loaded beat D's Bertrando despite D's Bertrando breaking slowly and being trapped behind horses on the backstretch.

The maiden Timely Jeff has started twice, both times in stakes races.

He set swift early fractions before finishing fourth when Omega Code set the Fresno track record in winning the Ron and Jessman Cloud Memorial on Oct. 5. He then broke slowly and lost by a neck to Sailinwithcaptain in the Don B Stakes on Nov. 2 at Bay Meadows.

The race within a race will be to see whether Timely Jeff, who breaks from post 3, or Gray Jag, who drew post 5, sets the early pace. In five starts, Gray Jag has run an opening quarter-mile in less than 22 seconds four times and had the lead through a quarter in 22.06 seconds in the other start.

Trainer Greg Gilchrist views Gray Jag as strictly a sprinter and this is the only sprint stakes of the meet for 2-year-olds.

"I don't have a choice," Gilchrist said about entering. "It's either [face D's Bertrando] or don't run. Where else would you go?"

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