01/17/2003 12:00AM

El Dorado Shooter's the top gun

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ALBANY, Calif. - El Dorado Shooter, who holds the Golden Gate Fields track record for six furlongs, will be the one to beat in Sunday's $60,000-added Montclair Handicap at six furlongs.

It was in the Montclair two years ago that El Dorado Shooter set the Golden Gate record of 1:07.55.

El Dorado Shooter, a 6-year-old gelding who will have five rivals Sunday, comes off an impressive victory in the Oakland Handicap on Dec. 7. That was his first win since

March 25, 2001, when he completed a sprint-stakes hat trick at Golden Gate, where he is 4 for 7. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 101 in the Oakland.

El Dorado Shooter has good early speed, although Our Magistrate, who breaks from the rail, could be the leader after the opening quarter-mile. El Dorado Shooter is capable of running 44-second-flat half-miles or quicker and looms the one to catch going into the stretch, where Halo Cat, second to El Dorado Shooter in the Oakland Handicap, will become his primary challenge after stalking early.

A rapid, contested opening half doesn't necessarily hurt El Dorado Shooter at his best. In the Oakland, he was involved in a head-and-head duel for the opening half-mile. In his Montclair victory, he was second by a head through the first two calls.

On Sunday, he draws outside Our Magistrate, breaking from post 5, while Our Magistrate draws the rail. The outside draw should work to his advantage, just as it did in the Oakland.

El Dorado Shooter's breeder and trainer, Cliff Delima, says the star sprinter is "going good," with three fast workouts since his victory in the Oakland: 46.20 seconds for four furlongs on Dec. 24, 59.40 for five furlongs on Jan. 4, and a bullet 45.40 for four furlongs on Jan. 11.

A variety of ailments compromised El Dorado Shooter for more than one year, but since his return last September, he has run well.

He was second to Profound Secret in the Big Jag Handicap and then second to Stoney in the California Sprint Championship at Bay Meadows. He faded to sixth in the Cal Cup Sprint at Santa Anita before his Oakland victory.

"The first two times back he ran big," Delima said. "Maybe he needed some races in him. Down south, I'll write that race off. He blew his cork in the receiving barn before the race. He's good now."

And good for El Dorado Shooter should be enough.

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