04/17/2003 12:00AM

Frankel making no promises


ARCADIA, Calif. - Speak in Passing has been off for more than 15 months, has never won a stakes in this country, and has had a disrupted training schedule in recent weeks.

Under those circumstances, Speak in Passing starts as the 118-pound topweight in Saturday's $125,000 San Simeon Handicap at Santa Anita.

Trained by Bobby Frankel, Speak in Passing is certain to attract plenty of support in the Grade 3 San Simeon, run over about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course.

The only stakes winner at the meeting in the field of eight is Spinelessjellyfish, who won the Sensational Star Handicap for California-breds on Jan. 5. Spinelessjellyfish has been off the board in three subsequent starts, including a fourth-place finish in the Crystal Water Handicap on March 23.

Speak in Passing has run well on the hillside turf course in the past, finishing second in the Grade 3 Morvich Handicap and winning an allowance race in January 2002. In between, he finished second in the Grade 3 Hollywood Turf Express.

The allowance race was his final start before being sidelined.

"He had problems," Frankel said of the layoff, declining to elaborate.

The 6-year-old Speak in Passing has run well after layoffs, finishing second by a nose in his U.S. debut in July 2001 following a nine-month break.

On Thursday, Frankel was cautious regarding his expectations for Saturday's San Simeon Handicap: "I got messed up with my training on him."

Asked about the fitness of Speak in Passing on a percentage basis, Frankel said, "I don't know. He hasn't been out in a while."

Several other contenders have questions surrounding their chances. Line Rider, a stakes winner at Hollywood Park last spring, has not started since September. Canny Fly, a stakes winner in Australia last year, was fifth in an optional claimer in his U.S. debut.

Los Solano and Ecstatic were placed in allowance races in recent starts, but must show improvement to win the San Simeon.

Trainer Jeff Mullins has two starters: Rocky Bar and Thunder Bullet. Rocky Bar, previously trained by Kory Owens, was ninth in the Reb's Policy Handicap on Feb. 21. Last fall, he finished second to Texas Glitter in the Hollywood Turf Express after leading to deep stretch.

Thunder Bullet has won his last three, all claimers or optional claimers. The San Simeon is his stakes debut.