07/26/2004 11:00PM

Frankel pair both primed to run big


DEL MAR, Calif. - Bobby Frankel took most of his best horses to New York for the summer. But he still took care of his top assistant, Humberto Ascanio, who oversees the West Coast operation when Frankel is away.

Ascanio has 39 runners at Del Mar, and gets to stay at Frankel's time-share on the property of the Four Seasons Aviara in Carlsbad. Sweet.

On Thursday, Ascanio will have to break away for the afternoon from the pool and the cabanas to come to the track and send out a pair of turf runners who figure to be well backed in the pick six sequence.

In the fourth race, should rule a heavy favorite in a first-level allowance race for 3-year-old fillies. And in the seventh race, British import Royal Stamp returns from a 53-week layoff with a steady series of works for his return, and a history of firing fresh.

Sagitta Ra has made significant progress in just three starts. She captured her debut, was a narrow loser in a similar first-level allowance race at Hollywood Park, then was third in the Grade 2 Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap. She was nominated with her multiple stakes-winning stablemate Miss Vegas to Saturday's $150,000 San Clemente Handicap, but Frankel instructed Ascanio to put Sagitta Ra in Thursday's 1 1/16-mile allowance race instead.

"She's doing real good," Ascanio said Tuesday morning. "Bobby decided to run her there because he didn't want the two fillies to run against each other in the stake."

Ascanio was even more bullish on Royal Stamp, who will be making his North American debut in a one-mile, first-level allowance race. Royal Stamp won just once in four starts in Great Britain, but was second in a listed stakes race last July while earning a Timeform rating that makes him formidable against this bunch.

"I'll be shocked if he doesn't run good," Ascanio said. "He acts like a nice horse."

Frankel also has Jipapibaquigrafo entered in Thursday's seventh race, but Ascanio said that colt likely would be scratched to await a race at a longer distance later in the meet.

That will give Trevor Denman, Del Mar's track announcer, more time to bone up on the pronunciation of Jipapibaquigrafo, whose name looks like the outcome of pounding your fist on a keyboard. Asked how the name was pronounced, Ascanio tried a couple of times, smiled, and gave up.

Denman looked at the name and said, "Your guess is as good as mine."

"I don't even know if this is a word. It doesn't look like a word. Let's put it this way," Denman said, smiling. "I don't like the owner, whoever it is, for giving him a name like that."