12/02/2002 12:00AM

Good spot for Not for Me


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Since arriving in the United States from his native Argentina, Not for Me has sprinted and run long while racing on both turf and dirt. Of the four possible combinations of those disciplines, Not for Me has yet to sprint on turf, which appears to be his main strength.

The wait ends on Wednesday, in the featured seventh race at Hollywood Park. Not for Me has finally found a turf sprint, and that makes him an intriguing play in a six-horse field that has plenty of possible winners.

"I like this spot. I think it's good for him," Pico Perdomo, Not for Me's trainer, said Monday.

In Argentina, Not for Me got his first win in a six-furlong turf sprint that he won by 12 lengths against 10 rivals. He subsequently won a Group 3 race on dirt, but because of race conditions, and time off to recover from surgery, he has not been able to sprint on turf since arriving here more than 16 months ago.

His two dirt sprints in the United States have been his best races here. Not for Me won going six furlongs at Bay Meadows on Sept. 11, and was second in a classified allowance race at Hollywood Park on Nov. 7. He then came back three days later on Nov. 10 and finished fifth on a muddy track in the 1 1/16-mile Steinlen Handicap.

"I thought he'd like the mud, but it seems like he prefers to go short," Perdomo said.

Wednesday's race will be the fifth for Not for Me since returning from an eight-month layoff. "We had to stop on him and geld him because he had a testicle that was bothering him," Perdomo said.

Not for Me drew the rail for the 5 1/2-furlong grass race. A case can be made for just about all of his rivals.

With Iris and Most Likely finished one-two in an optional-claiming race going about 6 1/2 furlongs on Santa Anita's hillside turf course in their most recent race, on Oct. 16. With Iris has never finished out of the money in six starts on Hollywood's turf. Most Likely, like Not for Me a native of Argentina, has won just once in his last 21 starts.

Ecstatic won a similar turf sprint at Hollywood on June 23, but he is winless in five starts since.

Slew of the Night, who appears the one to catch, scored a front-running victory in an off-the-turf optional claimer at Hollywood on Nov. 8.

The well-traveled Jentzen is making his first start in California after previous starts in Great Britain, France, New York, and New Jersey. He has not won since June 2001.

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