01/22/2004 12:00AM

Figures don't tell the story

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Don'tsellmeshort is the horse that speed figures forgot. He has won half his eight starts and has captured three stakes races, all while only once earning a Beyer Speed Figure higher than 77. On pure numbers, he is a strict bet-against in Saturday's $250,000 Sunshine Millions Dash at Santa Anita. But to go against him has proven to be a risky proposition. He just wins, baby.

"They don't give him credit because he's never visually impressive," his trainer, Dan Hendricks, said at Santa Anita. "His tail's swishing, he lugs out. At the beginning of his career, he had quick speed. But he's learned to relax. He can sit behind, and then run straight and true. The key for him is having an outside post."

Hendricks got his wish for the six-furlong Dash, which is exclusively for 3-year-olds. Don'tsellmeshort drew the outside post in the field of 10. All four of his losses have come when he started from post 1 or 2. He comes off a victory at 13-1 in the California Breeders' Champion Stakes on Santa Anita's opening day Dec. 26, when he stalked and then pounced.

"It was satisfying to see him do what we wanted him to do," Hendricks said.

In addition to the California Breeders' Champion Stakes, Don'tsellmeshort last year won the Barretts Juvenile at Fairplex and the Graduation Stakes at Del Mar.

Don'tsellmeshort is one of seven California-breds in the 10-horse field. His main rivals figure to be Ice Wynnd Fire and Saint Afleet, a pair of Florida-breds who are based in California.

Ice Wynnd Fire was an unlucky loser to subsequent stakes winner Hosco in an optional-claiming sprint on Dec. 26. That race graded out much faster than Don'tsellmeshort's stakes victory later in the day. Ice Wynnd Fire will be making his second start since being bought privately by John and Jerry Amerman and turned over to trainer Bobby Frankel.

Saint Afleet also should be a strong factor. He was overmatched in the Hollywood Futurity on Dec. 20, but that was his first start around two turns, his second race in 13 days, and his fourth race in less than two months. Trainer Craig Dollase has now had five weeks to prepare Saint Afleet for the Dash, and Saint Afleet has responded with a series of sharp workouts across town at Hollywood Park. He also should appreciate a return to six furlongs, a distance at which he is 2 for 3.

Race for Glory won the Cavonnier Stakes here in October. But he beat just one horse, and finished 14 lengths behind Don'tsellmeshort, when sent off at 6-5 in the California Breeders' Champion Stakes. His trainer, D. Wayne Lukas, was 0 for 31 at this meet entering Thursday's card.