02/20/2004 12:00AM

Sherman has top prospect


ALBANY, Calif. - Although he has run only once, winning his debut in a straight maiden race last summer at the Bay Meadows Fair, Don'tcallmefrisco is a Triple Crown nominee.

"I've always been a little high on the colt," said trainer Art Sherman, who will send out Don'tcallmefrisco for his 3-year-old debut in Sunday's feature race at Golden Gate Fields.

Don'tcallmefrisco has four rivals in the six-furlong allowance race, including Jupiter and Mars, who has back-to-back victories here against claimers.

Jupiter and Mars was claimed for $25,000 in his last start, when he recorded a three-length victory and earned an 80 Beyer that tops the next-best Beyer in the race by 11 points. Although he hasn't led early, Jupiter and Mars has enough speed to engage for the early lead with Don'tcallmefrisco.

Don'tcallmefrisco has a series of good works for his comeback, including a pair of 1:12 and change six-furlong drills.

"I like everything about him," Sherman said. "He's got natural speed. He only started one time but won pretty handily. He showed me all I needed to know, so I stopped on him. He's worked well and is looking good."

Luck, hard work keeps track fast

Track superintendent Juan Meza says he has been lucky to keep the track in good condition following heavy rains earlier this week. But preparation has been a key ingredient in that luck.

The track was fast Thursday, as Meza prepared for a possible storm Friday.

Because rain didn't really start falling until after racing last Saturday, Meza was able to protect the track by sealing it. After more rain and racing Monday, Meza had two dark days.

"With this kind of break, you can open the track for horses to train and work and keep the track as soft as you can for the horses," Meza said. "On Friday, we'll stay in touch with the weatherman and get our equipment ready in case we have to do something special."

Communication between racing secretary Tom Doutrich and trainers has eliminated some of the complaints from past years about limited time for training. Meza and his crew also keep in touch with Steve Wood, Magna's supervisor of track maintenance who is based at Santa Anita.

The track has held together better this winter, in part, because there has been less rain, and Meza and his crew have done a good job to prevent any overwhelming track biases.

"We like to keep it so everyone has a chance," Meza said.