Updated on 09/16/2011 8:11AM

El Dorado Shooter returns in Big Jag


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Trainer Cliff Delima hopes El Dorado Shooter is ready to fire after three bullet drills in preparation for his return to the races in Sunday's $60,000-added Big Jag Handicap at Bay Meadows.

"He'll give them hell for a while," said Delima about the 5-year-old gelding, who will make his first start since finishing last in the Ken Maddy Sprint Handicap at Golden Gate Fields on Feb. 23.

El Dorado Shooter has won eight of 14 starts and was northern California's top sprinter early in 2001 when he won the Montclair, Ken Maddy, and Danville handicaps.

After fading to third in the Saratoga Handicap at Bay Meadows on May 28, 2001, El Dorado Shooter went to the sidelines, returning on Jan. 10 in a bid to defend his Montclair Handicap title. He set the early pace before fading to fifth as Mellow Fellow won the race.

In the Ken Maddy, he was no match for Echo Eddie on the front end and gave way so badly that Delima sent him to the sidelines.

"He just wasn't doing any good," said Delima, who is still mystified as to why El Dorado Shooter didn't fire.

El Dorado Shooter seemed to be working brilliantly for his return in January, recording five-furlong bullet works of 57 and 58.40 in his final two drills before his comeback. He returns now with three bullets in his past four works, including a 58.40 on Aug. 29.

"He does things so easy sometimes you're not sure how much he's getting from his works," Delima said.

"Last fall, everything went wrong. He got a virus and sores on his hips."

Delima isn't sure if there was a residual effect from the virus that affected El Dorado Shooter earlier this year.

"He looks a lot better now," Delima said.

"I'd like to have another couple weeks, but you can't have everything your way. He's far enough along that he'll be okay. It's not going to hurt him to do it.

El Dorado Shooter, the Big Jag highweight at 119 pounds, drew post 2 against four rivals. Speedy Sempai drew the outside post 5 and could go off the favorite off his victory in the Ernest Finley on July 27 at Santa Rosa.

Also making a comeback here is Salish Shaman, who puts a five-race win streak on the line as he breaks from post 4. Those five wins, however, came in 1998 and 1999.

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