03/25/2004 1:00AM

Winner deserves more pay


ALBANY, Calif. - As Brent Sumja, the trainer of Jets Fan, studied the field for Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Berkeley Breeders' Cup Handicap at Golden Gate Fields, he came to one conclusion.

"This should be a $200,000 to $250,000 purse," he said. "The horse that wins this decision should get a bigger purse."

Sumja is correct that the talent level of the six runners in the one-mile race is high.

Taste of Paradise won the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar last year. Multiple stakes winner Yougottawanna won the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby as a 2-year-old.

Jets Fan comes off a victory in the San Carlos Handicap at one mile, and Gold Ruckus won the one-mile Lafayette Handicap here on New Year's Day.

The one to beat could be the Bobby Frankel-trained Snorter, who has won two straight and is making his stakes debut. Wolfwithintegrity, fourth in his comeback after an 11-month layoff, is also seeking his first stakes win.

Jets Fan and Snorter, both 4-year-olds, are improving and ready to make a splash in stakes competition. Sumja, in fact, says that because of the purse structure in northern California stakes, Jets Fan will be pointed for stakes races in Kentucky and Texas and likely will not race in northern California again.

Eye of the Tiger, nominated for the Berkeley, will not run because he has been moved east from Jerry Hollendorfer's barn, in large part because there are no local races for him here. That happened to Hollendorfer earlier this year, too, when he had to ship Bending Strings to Fair Grounds to find a race for her.

Yougottawanna, who lost by a head to Jets Fan two back, ran the fastest 1 1/16-mile race at Golden Gate Fields this year in his last start, when he won a $50,000 claimer by eight lengths in 1:40.67 and was claimed. His 1:34.31 one-mile fraction is also the fastest a mile has been run here this year.

Five races later on the same card, Jets Fan won the San Carlos in 1:34.75. Gold Ruckus won the Lafayette in 1:34.53 on a wet-fast track.

Yougottawanna is the possible pacesetter, although Taste of Paradise did go wire to wire in winning the San Diego. He has not shown speed in his past two starts, however.