09/16/2004 12:00AM

San Mateo should be revealing


SAN MATEO, Calif. - One of the most interesting - and, for handicappers, exasperating - aspects of 2-year-old stakes races is the improvement factor.

Last month's ugly duckling may have blossomed into a swan since last seen on the racetrack. The improvement factor can turn wide-open races on paper into runaways on the track and can turn heavy favorites on paper into also-rans.

Saturday's $55,000-added San Mateo Stakes at six furlongs will give handicappers a chance to assess the progress of six 2-year-olds.

Stakes winner Wind Water, who drew the rail, looks the best of the lot. He was third in the Malcolm Anderson in his debut here and came back to set a Pleasanton track record winning the Everett Nevin Alameda County Futurity before heading south to Fairplex.

Trainer Brian Koriner entered Wind Water in Tuesday's Beau Brummel at Fairplex, but opted to run here when he found out Fallfree had been entered there. Fallfree ended up running second.

"Fallfree had beat us twice already," Koriner said. "I didn't think he'd be there in that race when I entered. My horse is not ready to run from off the pace yet, and they went so fast that day, I think I made a wise decision.

"This race is for more money for me, $71,000, since he's a Cal-bred."

Wind Water appears to be the speed of the race, but Boston Glory, who won a $62,500 maiden claimer the same day Wind Water finished second to Fallfree in a Del Mar allowance race, was given the same Beyer Speed Figure as Wind Water, a 65.

"My colt showed a lot of grit that day," said Eoin Harty, Boston Glory's trainer, "and he's worked well since."

The Greg Gilchrist-trained Danny Dingle won his debut as the favorite at Santa Rosa, stalking and pulling away late after waiting for room in the lane.

"He ran like a horse that had run a dozen times," Gilchrist said. "He showed a lot of professionalism."

Mark Hanna sends out Dino Camino, who, Hanna says, is growing up.

"When he got here, he'd just stand in the back of his stall with his head down," Hanna said. "Now he's at the front with his chest all pumped up. Hopefully, we have a nice colt."