05/18/2004 12:00AM

Jet West part of deep field


SAN MATEO, Calif. - A horseman doesn't have to be on the Derby trail to be excited about a talented 3-year-old colt.

Although Thursday's feature at Bay Meadows is only a first-level allowance sprint for 3-year-olds, local horsemen have reasons to be excited about each of the 11 runners in the six-furlong race.

Four runners are coming off a victory, and two others were second in their last start after having won their previous race. Two of the colts were nominated to the Triple Crown, and one has worked his way through the claiming ranks with four victories in five starts.

The race is filled with young horses who hint at being useful runners, whether they develop into stakes horses or end up in the claiming ranks.

The most intriguing of the entrants is Jet West, a May foal making his first start since earning a 93 Beyer while winning his maiden last Oct. 18.

"He was a very late foal," said Steve Sherman, who assists his father, Art. "He's actually just turned 3. When he was just 2, he was definitely at a disadvantage."

Jet West was third in his debut, losing to Market Report, who won a stakes in his next start, and Itsaprospector, one of Thursday's rivals.

In his next start, Jet West defeated next-race winner Pt's Grey Eagle by six lengths; eventual El Camino Real Derby winner Kilgowan finished third.

"He really woke up," Steve Sherman said.

After the race, Jet West underwent surgery to remove a chip from his knee. "It was just a small flake," said Steve Sherman.

Because they believe Jet West to be such a good prospect, the Shermans gave him extra time.

"He comes out of a family of runners, and he has the right makeup," Sherman said. "He's worked well in company. He's more competitive when he has someone with him."

Also running Thursday is Don'tcallmefrisco, Jet West's stablemate who has finished third in three starts this year after winning his debut last summer.

But Jet West will face stronger competition from Cahill Mango, Itsaprospector, and Wine Spoken Here. Cahill Mango, who trailed Itsaprospector and Jet West in Jet West's debut, won two straight before losing by a nose at Thursday's level in his last start.

Itsaprospector also was second at this level in his last start. Wine Spoken Here is 4 for 4 against claimers, but faded in his lone start at this level.