01/07/2005 1:00AM

Sherman savors 1,500th win

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ALBANY, Calif. - Art Sherman was understandably happy Thursday at Golden Gate Fields after Mountain Mustang provided him with the 1,500th victory of his training career.

"I can remember my first winner as a jockey, Nick's Brigade at Caliente, but I can't remember my first winner as a trainer," said Sherman, who has been saddling horses since 1979.

"You have your ups and downs, but I've always respected the game," he said. "I've been around the track 51 years, starting when I was 16 with Rex Ellsworth. It's been a great time for me. I have no regrets. My sons [Steve and Alan] have helped me tremendously in recent years."

Sherman ranked 12th in the country with 152 victories last year.

"I've finally got my barn built up. We have 65 horses right now," he said. "Everything seems on an upswing. This year is starting well. We're actually in front of where we were last year."

Golden Gate Derby nominees

Sixteen 3-year-olds, headed by Texcess, winner of the $1 million Delta Jackpot, were nominated for Saturday's $100,000 Golden Gate Derby. The 1 1/16-mile race lost its Grade 3 status this year.

In addition to Texcess, who has won 3 of 4 starts, Gold Rush Stakes winner Dover Dere has been nominated for trainer Doug O'Neill and owner Merv Griffin. O'Neill and Griffin won the Gold Rush and the Golden Gate Derby with Skipaslew last year.

Scipion, a $1.9 million purchase, and South Africa, fourth in the Hollywood Futurity, are also among the nominees.

* The Glen Ellen Vocational Academy's Stallion Default Auction is under way through Jan. 16. Information on the auction for GEVA, northern California's only nonprofit horse retirement operation, can be found on the Internet at glenellenfarms.com/geva/.