08/15/2006 11:00PM

Dons Champion sharp off last

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Five 3-year-olds get a chance to display their progress in a $40,000 starter allowance at six furlongs Friday at the Bay Meadows Fair.

Dons Champion seems the one who sets the bar. A 3-year-old gelding trained by Bill Morey Jr., he ran third in his debut in a $40,000 maiden claimer in November, then beat a straight maiden field Dec. 19 in his second start.

He didn't race again until July 30, when he finished third in a starter allowance race at Santa Rosa. He has recorded a bullet work since then.

"We had to stop on him and give him some time off," Morey said, "but he came back good. I was hoping for a little better at Santa Rosa."

Morey projects Dons Champion as a sprinter.

"He's built like a sprinter and looks like a sprinter," Morey said.

With the comeback race under Dons Champion's belt, he should prove tough. He has already shown that he can improve with racing.

Strong and Fast, trained by Morey's son, Billy, comes off a four-length maiden victory following a claim. All Pro set a track record at Pleasanton in his debut. Bridge Too Far, whose maiden victory came routing on the turf, earned the field's best Beyer Speed Figure, a 79, in a third-place finish sprinting behind Prison Bound in his last start.

Arizona-based Bet the River drew the rail for his first start since May 7.

Dons Champion, Strong and Fast, All Pro, and Bridge Too Far all earned bullets in their final prep for this.

"He kind of got away," Morey said about Dons Champion's 58.20-second, best-of-33 drill Saturday at Golden Gate Fields.

Strong and Fast had a five-furlong bullet in 1:00 at Bay Meadows last Saturday, and All Pro put in a 48.40-second bullet half-mile drill at Pleasanton the same day. Bridge too Far had a 59.80-second bullet for five furlongs at Bay Meadows on Aug. 5.