09/11/2002 12:00AM

Maiden has plenty of potential


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Northern Won, trained by Ellen Jackson, could be the colt to beat in Friday's Bay Meadows feature, a six-furlong maiden race for 3-year-olds and up.

Jackson has had Northern Won at her Victory Rose Thoroughbreds in Vacaville, Calif., since the horse was 2 months old.

In addition to running a breeding operation that includes the stallion Simply Majestic, Jackson also breaks yearlings and helps prepare horses to race.

Northern Won ran third, beaten a neck, in his Aug. 28 debut at Sacramento. He surprised Jackson in one regard.

"Before the race started, I said if he ran third I'd be thrilled," Jackson said.

She may have been disappointed when Northern Won opened a 1 1/2-length lead in the stretch only to be outfinished. "He had a lot more speed than I expected," she said.

"I was happy to see the horse run so easily and so well. I expect much better this time. He won't work by himself. When he got in front like that, it may have been a tactical mistake because he stops and waits for horses."

Northern Won makes his second start Friday against eight rivals.

It's not surprising that Jackson expects "much better" from Northern Won. Her second-time starters often do well; she has a 19 percent win rate and $3.69 flat-bet profit with them in 2001-2002.

"I couldn't tell you why that is," Jackson said. "I don't use the first race to get them fit. In the first race, anything can happen."

Jackson relies on long-time assistant Alberto Rubalcava at the track because of her many duties on the farm. She gets to the track only once or twice a week for workouts and races.

She suspected early that Northern Won might be a good one.

"Even in the field, he was such a cocky little kid," Jackson said. "He's nicely proportioned, compact. He looked like an athlete.

"He's so catty-quick, he'll drop anyone. No one who has ever gotten on him hasn't been dropped. He's quite a character, but there's not a mean bone in his body."

But there is plenty of ability.

"I've never had a big horse, but I've been told when you have a really good horse, they do things so easily," said Jackson, who believes Northern Won will be better around two turns.

"Even in his works, he's just toying with other horses."

Friday's race seems to be a tough one. Four of the five first-timers have at least one bullet drill. Two of the three colts that have already run have second-place finishes, and the third finished fourth behind Northern Won when they ran in their debut at Sacramento.

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