10/02/2002 11:00PM

El Dorado draws ideal post

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Round One for Saturday's $100,000 California Sprint Championship at Bay Meadows went to El Dorado Shooter.

He drew post 5 in the six-furlong sprint for California-breds that includes four speedsters and one closer.

"I'd like to get on the outside," said Cliff Delima, the trainer of El Dorado Shooter, before the race was drawn Thursday.

"It all comes down to post position," said Jeff Bonde, Menacing Dennis' trainer, prior to the draw.

Menacing Dennis drew post 2 with Unlimited Value on the rail. Stoney drew post 3 with Radar Contact, the lone closer in the field, in post 4.

"That opens up another door for you," said Ron Warren Jr., the rider of El Dorado Shooter, after seeing the draw.

"He's outside of me so I have one less option," Menacing Dennis' rider Chad Schvaneveldt said, referring to El Dorado Shooter.

All the horses in the field except Radar Contact routinely run 44-second half-miles, and Schvaneveldt believes Saturday's leader will run in the 43's.

El Dorado Shooter's outside draw gives him the advantage, although Stoney, who has won his last three starts and earned a career-best 107 Beyer in his last race, could be the one to beat.

Menacing Dennis, who set the pace in the Preakness, is the lone 3-year-old in the field. He enters the race off a wire-to-wire victory in the Earlene McCabe Derby at Sacramento on Aug. 25.

"He's trained well and had proper spacing since his last race," Bonde said. "It's going to take a good horse to beat him."

Bonde said Menacing Dennis doesn't need the lead, noting "he stalked at Santa Anita and won in his second start March 6. He's a free-running type horse," Bonde said.

Menacing Dennis has four straight bullet works since his McCabe Derby victory, and Schvaneveldt, who was aboard for a 57.20 work on Sept. 27, says he's sharp.

"He was just playing around," Schvaneveldt said. "When I asked him at the wire, he kicked on strong."

Menacing Dennis had some problems with his hind end after racing over the deeper Eastern tracks of Pimlico, Delaware and Monmouth this summer, but Bonde said he is fine now.

So, too, is El Dorado Shooter, who trained well last winter but did not run up to expectations. El Dorado Shooter finished second in the Big Jag Stakes in his comeback Sept. 8. That was his first win since February.

"I think there were two or three possibilities [to explain the poor races]," Delima said. "He had a rash and didn't look good underneath. I believe he bled in his last race."

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