05/09/2002 11:00PM

Six Hitter heads field of seven in Ascot

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Six Hitter, the newest star in the galaxy of trainer Bobby Frankel, will make his United States debut on national television in the $100,000, Grade 3 Ascot Handicap on Sunday at Bay Meadows.

Seven 3-year-olds will run in the 1 1/16-mile race on the Longden Turf Course, which will be aired live on the NTRA's 2day At The Races show, airing from 2-2:30 p.m. PDT on ESPN2.

Eighteen runners were nominated to the race, but five ran in a turf allowance race Wednesday at Hollywood Park. A spokesman for the Hollywood Park racing office suggested that Frankel's decision to send Six Hitter north for the Ascot played a role in the decision of several of the trainers to run in the Hollywood Park allowance race.

Stakes-placed Don Holiday, Hecandigit, and Van Rouge were heading north along with Six Hitter for the Ascot.

Three locally based runners - Gottalovefaith, Blew Slew's Shoes, and Lawn Mower - will also run. Gottalovefaith has won four straight starts, including a pair of allowance races on the turf since being claimed by John F. Martin. Blew Slew's Shoes recently won a maiden race over the Longden Turf Course. Lawn Mower has a turf win at Golden Gate Fields.

Bay Meadows racing secretary Greg Brent was disappointed that the Hollywood Park race was put in the condition book.

"The Ascot was moved at the request of Martin Panza [Hollywood Park's racing secretary]," Brent said. "They had no turf stakes until after Memorial Day because they moved the Will Rogers back from opening day. Tom Robbins [Magna's director of racing], Panza, and I talked. This was the first Grade 3 race for 3-year-olds and would play into [Panza's] race [the Will Rogers on June 1].

"Then they put up an allowance race," Brent said. "It's frustrating, trying to work with each other. Everybody's so short [of horses], you do what you can to survive."

Six Hitter had two wins, a second, and a third in four European starts as a 2-year-old, including a stakes win.

"He's trained pretty well," Frankel's assistant Humberto Ascanio said. "Bobby's a little high on him. Bobby thinks he's got a good shot."

Although he will be making his U.S. debut, Six Hitter will be the race's highweight at 120 pounds.

"I don't know how they determined that," said Ascanio, although he indicated no particular displeasure with the weight assignment.

"He had a significant win in Europe and carried high weight over there," Brent said.