01/26/2008 1:00AM

Matos finds right spot for First Takin


ALBANY, Calif. - Gil Matos is quick to tell anyone who will listen that observation is one of the keys to training.

His powers of observation could pay off in Monday's first race, as Golden Gate Fields begins its final week of racing.

Matos entered First Takin, an aptly named son of Takin It Deep, in the $16,000 claimer for 3-year-olds at one mile.

First Takin is from the first crop of Takin It Deep, the four-time stakes winner who is the best horse Matos has trained. First Takin was his sire's first winner, and, in fact, his only winner from seven starters before Truffle N Paradise won Friday.

"I found out a lot about him from his first crop," Matos said. "I think they need to run later as

2-year-olds. If you breed to Takin It Deep, you'll want to be patient and wait as long as you can. I don't think he'll have many four and 4 1/2-furlong winners. They all want to show late run like he did."

Matos believes Monday's mile distance should be good for First Takin, who graduated in one of the first mile races of the year for 2-year-olds last September.

After winning a pair of sprints, he hooked a tough one-mile allowance field last time that included a pair of entrants in Sunday's California Derby. First Takin was in contention for six furlongs before fading in the stretch.

"I learned quite a lot from that race," Matos said. "I think maybe he is a $16,000 horse. I still see him winning around two turns, but it may be possible this horse is just a late-running sprinter. At least, he's in the right place to find out Monday."

First Takin has five rivals, each of whom has only a maiden victory to his credit. Hurricane Deputy, Cassiar, Ruud Boy, and Beau'sreign each come off maiden victories, while Macho Kid gets a big drop after being claimed for $40,000 at Calder on Dec. 27.

In other races on the card:

* Desert Sea, Camisado, and Burning Blur will be trying for repeat victories in a $16,000 claimer at one mile for 4-year-olds and up. Camisado has won two straight over the Golden Gate Fields Tapeta surface.

* Madame Hook, just claimed for $8,000 out of a winning effort, will look to extend her streak in the day's final $16,000 claimer, which is for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs. Recent maiden winner Naturally Perfect and Harriette Topper, second to Madame Hook and also claimed out of that $8,000 race, also figure prominently.