06/25/2003 11:00PM

Six stakes winners in Whiting

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PLEASANTON, Calif. - Traditionally one of the top races of the summer fair season, Saturday's Sam J. Whiting Handicap at the Alameda County Fair promises to live up to its past history.

Six stakes winners will be in the field of nine in the six-furlong Whiting, a $50,000 race for 3-year-olds and up.

Trainer Art Sherman will saddle two of the stakes winners, Presidio Heights and Con Quixote. Con Quixote will be making his first start since finishing third in the Cal Cup Sprint last Nov. 2.

The way speed was playing as the meet opened, Presidio Heights may be the one to beat, despite the presence of the very quick Giovannetti and the front-running Trickey Trevor, who was just claimed for $50,000 out of a wire-to-wire victory.

Presidio Heights ripped off a 21.08-second opening quarter and 42.89-second opening half in winning the Danville Handicap on March 22 at Golden Gate Fields, holding off El Dorado Shooter for the victory in 1:08.11 for six furlongs.

Presidio Heights slowed down a bit early in the April 19 Atherton at Bay Meadows, running a leisurely 21.76-second opening quarter and a 43.36-second half, winning that six-furlong race in 1:07.84. But he finished fifth, beaten eight lengths by El Dorado Shooter in the June 7 Grade 3 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Sprint Handicap.

El Dorado Shooter, who is bypassing Saturday's race, popped the gate after acting up and delaying the start. His antics distracted Presidio Heights, who broke a step slowly, was bumped, and fell well behind less than five strides into the race.

Despite the early trouble, Presidio Heights did rush into contention, trailing by a length through an opening quarter-mile in 21.73 seconds. But he failed to muster a rally as El Dorado Shooter opened up on the turn.

Giovannetti, winner of the Phoenix Gold Cup, went head and head the whole way with El Dorado Shooter in the Ken Maddy Sprint on Feb. 22 at Golden Gate Fields before losing by a head.

Bill Morey, trainer of Trickey Trevor, said he believes his colt will fall into a stalking trip.

Halo Cat, winner of the Albany, Montclair, and San Carlo at Golden Gate Fields, should also stalk the pace and would gain most by a pace duel. The other stakes winners in the race are Radar Contact and Halo Hunter.