02/17/2004 12:00AM

El Dorado Shooter ready to roll

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ALBANY, Calif. - He's back.

El Dorado Shooter, now 7 years old, is ready for his first race since last June, when he won the Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Sprint. He will seek to win Saturday's $100,000 Ken Maddy Sprint, a six-furlong race for California-breds, for the second straight year, third overall.

El Dorado Shooter won the Ken Maddy Sprint in 2001 and again last year, when he and Giovannetti dueled head and head for the entire six furlongs, through fractions of 21.08 and 43.16 seconds, as El Dorado Shooter kept his head in front all the way.

Giovannetti is back again, although the much-improved Green Team may be Shooter's primary rival in what figures to be a small field. Only Con Quixote and Texas Chili have also indicated they will run.

El Dorado Shooter underwent surgery to remove a small chip from his right front ankle last July.

Despite his advanced age, indications are that El Dorado Shooter is as good as ever - and he is probably the best sprinter in northern California. He has won 12 of 23 starts, eight of them in stakes, and earned $529,740 for breeder-trainer Cliff DeLima, whose wife, Barbara, is listed as the horse's owner.

"Hopefully, he'll do well," said DeLima, who has handled his star with kid gloves and seen it pay off handsomely.

On his best day, El Dorado Shooter is as good as any sprinter in the country. He has brilliant early speed and is as game as they come. But, as with any horse his age, particularly one blessed with so much speed, El Dorado Shooter has had his share of problems.

He has never seemed to lose a step despite the layoffs, though.

"I think the key is to know your horse and stop before they tear themselves up too much," DeLima said.

Jeff Bonde, who trains Green Team, respects the job DeLima has done with El Dorado Shooter.

"Cliff has done a good job with a horse that needs a lot of TLC," Bonde said. "He's never gone to the bottom of the well with the horse when he has problems."

DeLima always had high hopes when he bred his speedy mare Maui Lyphear J to Man From Eldorado, a Grade 2 stakes-winning son of Mr. Prospector.

"I noticed in the Racing Form that a lot of good horses back east had Northern Dancer and Mr. Prospector breeding," DeLima said.

When he got the chance to send Maui Lyphear J, whose great-grandsire is Northern Dancer, to a son of Mr. Prospector, DeLima jumped at the chance.

"I called and asked them about him. When they saw her pedigree, they called me back and offered me the breeding for free," DeLima said. "He was always a good-looking horse, and the first time he worked out of the gate, I knew he was a runner."

Chapilkim may wind up the lone speed

A $25,000 claimer at six furlongs that has attracted five fillies and mares will highlight a solid card Thursday.

A case could be made for each of the five runners, but Chapilkim, who has done most of her running on the turf lately, could be the one to beat here.

She drops a notch after running fourth in a turf sprint following a seven-week layoff.

What makes Chapilkim intriguing is her record, which shows her winning her last two main-track starts, once here and one off a layoff at Santa Rosa last year. She has handled wet tracks well, with a win and two seconds in three starts.

Chapilkim could be the speed of the race unless Brass Support, who drew the outside, opts to go early. Brass Support showed brief speed in her comeback after a 10-month layoff, but that was a strong race, with the winner coming back to run second in Saturday's Richmond Handicap.

Wildwood Flower okay after incident

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said his star 2-year-old filly Wildwood Flower was fine after flipping in the paddock at Santa Anita while preparing to run in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes on Sunday. Hollendorfer cannot explain what prompted the accident.

Hollendorfer said he might bring Wildwood Flower back in the March 6 California Oaks at 1 1/16 miles.

Hollendorfer's barn is stocked full with 3-year-old fillies, and he may run several in the Oaks. Bending Strings, Heavenly Humor, and Secret Corsage are some of Hollendorfer's other top fillies who could surface in the race.