03/22/2003 12:00AM

Golden Gate: 'Presidio' blazing fast


ALBANY, Calif. - Presidio Heights ($12.20) opened a daylight lead on El Dorado Shooter down the backstretch and held him off by a neck down the stretch to win the $67,400 Danville Handicap at Golden Gate Fields.

El Dorado Shooter, who ran fractions of 21.08 and 43.16 seconds in winning the Ken Maddy Sprint Handicap in his last start, broke alertly but saw Presidio Heights rush past him early. Presidio Heights ran a 21.08 opening quarter as he built a two-length lead and a 42.89 half-mile as he maintained his advantage. The final time in the six-furlong race was 1:08.11.

"That's the fastest I've ever been on a horse, and I've ridden a lot of fast horses," winning jockey Roberto Gonzalez said. "He loves to run on the bit, and I kind of pushed him the first sixteenth to get him on it. I was able to give him a breather to the three-eighths pole and had something left for the stretch."

Russell Baze said he thought he would catch Presidio Heights aboard El Dorado Shooter.

"At the sixteenth pole, I saw him stick his head up in the air, and I was sure I was going to blow by him, but then my horse ran out of gas," Baze said. "He never quit; he just ran out of gas."

Presidio Heights, a 5-year-old gelding, won the Foothill Stakes at Fairplex as a 3-year-old. He was sidelined for seven months last year when a nuclear scan discovered a hairline crack in a rear leg.

"It took him a couple races to get back," trainer Art Sherman said. "We dropped him to $25,000 to get his confidence back."

Presidio Heights earned $33,650 to lift his career bankroll to $136,930 with his sixth win in 17 starts.