01/19/2007 12:00AM

Proven on dirt, William T tries turf

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ALBANY, Calif. - Recent maiden winner William T will have to answer a new question in Sunday's Golden Gate Fields feature, a 1o1/16-mile allowance race.

With trainer Dennis Patterson unable to find a suitable turf race for William T, he will make his first start on dirt.

"We'd definitely prefer turf," Patterson said. "But at this point, I don't know how long the wait would be, possibly until Bay Meadows starts [Feb. 14], and I'm not sure how quick they'll start grass racing."

William T has a win and two seconds in his brief career. He hasn't raced since a 1 1/4-length victory at a mile on the turf on Nov. 11. He hasn't missed a beat in training, so Patterson decided to get the 4-year-old colt into a race.

A son of Theatrical out of the Group 1-winning mare Tersa, William T is a half-brother to Rock Hard Ten, a multiple Grade 1 winner who had no trouble racing on the dirt.

"Of course, he's always trained on dirt and always moved well, but there's a question if he can transfer that to racing," Patterson said.

If William T continues to show improvement, as he has in every start, and transfers his form to the main track, he'll be a strong contender.

His primary competition should come from the entry of Saratoga's Magic and Shining Day. Saratoga's Magic was the third head in a photo against similar in his first start for meet-leading trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. The consistent Switzerland also can be a threat.

Derby nominees

Sixteen 3-year-olds were nominated for next Sunday's $150,000 Golden Gate Derby at 1 1/16 miles.

Multiple stakes winners Pirates Deputy and Vicarino top the list. Trainer Bob Baffert, who used the Golden Gate Derby as one of Real Quiet's preps leading up to his Kentucky Derby victory, trains Pirates Deputy, who won the Gottstein Futurity and California Breeders Championship. Baffert also nominated stakes-placed runners Chief's Magic and Law Breaker.

Vicarino, who has won two straight sprint stakes, may run in a sprint instead of stretching out in the derby. Stakes winners Kolo and Zoning In also were nominated.

* Fargoabargain was disqualified from a May 14, 2006, victory at Bay Meadows after testing positive for clenbuterol, according to the California Horse Racing Board. Trainer Art Sherman was fined $3,000.