09/19/2005 11:00PM

Frew right at home on turf


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Despite his relative inexperience as a trainer, Daniel Franko has enjoyed quite a bit of success with turf runners. He has been winning with 17 percent of his runners on grass and they have given bettors a return of $3.94.

On Thursday, he saddles Frew in the Bay Meadows feature, a $40,000 starter allowance at 1 1/16 miles on the turf that attracted eight 3-year-olds and up.

, who just won a $25,000 maiden claimer on the turf, will have his hands full facing Mortimer Lockman, who comes off a second in a race similar to Thursday's at the Bay Meadows Fair. Last spring, he finished second twice over the turf here, in a pair of strong $32,000 maiden claimers.

The field also includes , who beat Frew in a $25,000 maiden claiming race over the turf here, and Bossa Rio and Sterling Ridge, second and third against similar competition over the Bay Meadows turf.

Frew has a second and a third in two dirt races, but he's better on turf, with a win and a third in three grass starts. He finished fifth in I Swear's maiden score, getting shuffled far back early, rallying four wide on the turn, and finishing strongly.

Franko claimed Frew for $12,500 from the horse's debut. A 3-year-old colt, Frew fit Franko's main criteria for a claim. "Mostly, I get my horses by the claiming box," he said. "I try to claim horses that I target for the turf. I target horses that I think are a fit for grass."

Franko also likes Frew's sire, Fruition, believing he produces solid route runners.

Franko owned horses in the 1970's, got away from the sport when he became involved in his business, and then bought more horses when he retired in September 2003. He found he loved hanging around the barn and learning about horses, and he passed his trainer's test in 2004.

He saddled his first winner in March 2004, the $121.60 longshot Noble Masterpiece, who won, naturally enough, on the turf.

Franko said he targets the turf for a simple reason.

"A lot of horses run on the grass because they haven't proven themselves on dirt," he said, admitting Frew falls into that category. "If they were proven on dirt, they wouldn't try turf. So sometimes you can find an easier field."