03/10/2004 1:00AM

Frankel sending in tough pair


ALBANY, Calif. - Golden Gate Fields is preparing for a golden weekend with the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby on Saturday and Grade 3 Golden Gate Breeders' Cup Handicap on Sunday.

At least seven 3-year-olds are pointing to the 1 1/16-mile El Camino, a race that has historically been a precursor to classic success. It has produced a Kentucky Derby winner and Horse of the Year (Charismatic, 1999), two Derby runners-up (Casual Lies, 1992 and Cavonnier, 1996), five Preakness winners (Gate Dancer, 1984; Tank's Prospect, 1985; Snow Chief, 1986; Tabasco Cat, 1994; and Charismatic, 1999) and a Belmont winner (Tabasco Cat, 1994).

Trainer Bobby Frankel will send Seattle Borders, his second-best 3-year-old, behind Master David, to the El Camino. Turf Paradise Derby winner Mambo Train will not come as originally expected.

Golden Gate Derby winner Skipaslew and runner-up O.K. Mikie, plus Dwango, Kilgowan, Trevanian, and the filly Wildwood Flower are also committed to run. The connections of Capitano, Laditude, Runs in the Family, Stalking Tiger, and Totally Platinum are still weighing their options.

Frankel, who recently purchased Seattle Borders for Edmund Gann, sent him out to win the 6 1/2-furlong Grade 3 Baldwin Stakes down Santa Anita's Hillside Turf Course in his 3-year-old debut. Both of the colt's victories have come on the turf.

"It's not coming up the strongest race, so we're taking a chance," Frankel said.

Seattle Borders's best effort on dirt was a second-place finish in a three-furlong race in his debut. He finished sixth and fifth in his other two dirt tries.

But Frankel said he trains well on the dirt. "You can't tell a difference if he's a dirt horse or grass horse," Frankel said. "I always thought he'd get 1 1/16 miles, and this race came up at the right time. I know he has speed and I know he can go a distance."

Frankel will also be represented on Sunday in the Golden Gate Breeders' Cup Handicap, with 121-pound highweight Epicentre.

Soud, who gets in at 118 for trainer Neil Drysdale, will also run. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer sends out Gold Ruckus, one of the top horses of the meeting thus far, and Bring Home Thegold. All the Boys, Mananan McLir, Ringaskiddy, and Tronare will also run in the 1 1/8-mile turf race.

Friday co-features

Two runners dropping from allowance races into $25,000 claiming co-features on Friday seem to be the ones to beat.

Destined to Win, who won a first-level allowance race two starts ago but couldn't handle future stakes winner Jets Fan in his last start, should be tough in a one-mile race for 4-year-olds.

He has enough speed to set the pace, should he so desire, and will try to hold off late-running Always Remember, who was just claimed for $20,000 by trainer Andy Mathis.

Radon, who showed good speed winning a $20,000 claimer off a claim by trainer Gil Matos, will try to duplicate that effort in a six-furlong race for fillies and mares. She showed no speed in a dull try when boosted to allowance company last time.

Clever Coed, who lost to Radon by a head in their last meeting, and Summer Lass, who finished ahead of her in a Feb. 29 allowance race, are Radon's principal rivals.