01/21/2004 12:00AM

Santano has home-turf edge on rivals

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ALBANY, Calif. - Course and distance specialist Santano is the one to catch and beat in Friday's Golden Gate Fields feature, a $32,000 claimer at 4 1/2 furlongs on the turf.

Santano has been a rocket ship in these abbreviated turf sprints, showing the ability to run the opening quarter-mile in 21 seconds or faster. He has won 5 of 8 starts over the Golden Gate turf course and was second in his other three starts. He is 6 for 10 at the distance with three second-place finishes.

He has four rivals, including Perfect Judgment, winner of two straight and only a nose shy of four straight victories. Perfect Judgment, who breaks from the rail, is fast, but not in the same league as Santano.

Pachara, who beat Perfect Judgment three back and has run second and third in two tries at the distance, should get a perfect stalking trip and first run should the speed fade.

Santano returned from a 10-month layoff at Los Alamitos in November. He qualified for the Grade 1 Marathon, an 870-yard race for Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds, with a fifth-place finish in his trial. In the finals, he finished seventh. In neither race did he flash his usual speed.

Since returning to northern California, he has had three good workouts, including a four-furlong best-of-24 drill in the slop on Jan. 10 and a five-furlong work in 58.60, the best of 26 that day, Jan. 17.

"He's been working good, and this is his course," said trainer Jeff Bonde's assistant, Tommy Nelson. "He does everything himself in the morning. He just goes out and does his business."

Last start for Lindsay Jean

Trainer Art Sherman is in Florida, where Lindsay Jean will make the final start of her career in the Sunshine Millions Distaff.

The Distaff will be her last race before she is bred to El Prado. Though better on the turf, she is running in the 1 1/16-mile Distaff on the main track rather than the Filly and Mare Turf at 1 1/8 miles.

"A mile and a sixteenth is her best distance," Sherman said.

Lindsay Jean holds a special place in Sherman's heart. So, too, does Snowbound Nan, who runs in an $8,000 claimer at six furlongs in Friday's opener here.

"Whenever I see her in the barn, I call her my miracle horse," Sherman said.

Sherman claimed Snowbound Nan for $12,500 last Oct. 1. She stalked the pace but lost her coordination in the lane, turning toward the grandstand then falling backward under the rail. The attending vet was ready to euthanize her, and Sherman was placing a call to his insurance company. To everyone's amazement, she stood up and walked off the track.

"She's not a world-beater, but she seems to be working well," Sherman said. "If she could win a race, it would be fun."