10/17/2003 12:00AM

The Tin Man shines in workout

The Tin Man (inside), one of nine likely to go in the $2 million Turf, works with a stablemate in a six-furlong breeze Friday at Santa Anita. He was timed in 1:36.60.

ARCADIA, Calif. - The compliments began flying shortly after The Tin Man worked six furlongs at Santa Anita on Friday.

A longshot for the $2 million on Oct. 25, The Tin Man was timed in 1:36.60 for a mile. By design, trainer Richard Mandella had The Tin Man start a few lengths behind a stablemate, a style that could be a must for The Tin Man to have any chance.

"He worked awesome," Mandella said. "It's the best I've ever seen him work."

The Tin Man must be at his best in the Turf against Grade 1 stakes winners Balto Star, Storming Home, and Sulamani, and European invaders Falbrav and High Chaparral, the defending champion. Longshots Deeliteful Irving, Johar, and Toccet are also probable.

"I think he'll run very well," Mandella said of The Tin Man. "He's a top horse. He's done well against some good horses."

The Tin Man typically races on the lead, but over the 1 1/2 miles of the Turf, he will likely be joined on the front by Balto Star, the winner of the United Nations Handicap, and Toccet.

A quick pace concerns Mandella and led him to work The Tin Man in company on Friday.

"If I had my way, I'd be the only speed," Mandella said. "I think that [spot] might be occupied. We've got to leave our options open. He'll be in the first three."

The Tin Man is one of nine probables for the Turf. Falbrav is questionable, having also been pre-entered for the $4 million Classic. Mandella also starts Johar, the winner of the San Marcos Stakes last January.

The Tin Man was second by a head in the San Marcos but returned to win the Grade 2 San Luis Obispo on Feb. 15 over 1 1/2 miles. He has lost his last three starts, finishing seventh to Storming Home in the Jim Murray Handicap at Hollywood Park, second to Balto Star in the United Nations Handicap at Monmouth Park, and sixth in the Arlington Million.

"He doesn't like Hollywood," Mandella said. "He didn't like shipping to Monmouth, shipping back, and then going to Arlington in smothering weather. He didn't run terrible, but he's filled the tank back up."

Sulamani, the winner of the Turf Classic at Belmont Park on Sept. 27, worked six furlongs in 1:15.96 at Belmont Park on Friday, the lone work at the distance.

Owned by Godolphin and trained by Saeed bin Suroor, Sulamani will have his final work on Tuesday and ship to California a day later.

Racing over a firm surface at Santa Anita should not be a problem for Sulamani, according to assistant trainer Tom Albertrani.

"He'll handle any type of surface," Albertrani said. "Everything's going as planned."

- additional reporting by David Grening