10/01/2003 11:00PM

Local trio has edge


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Saturday's $100,000 California Sprint Championship, a six-furlong race for Cal-breds, often serves as a prep for the Cal Cup at Santa Anita. This year's race has attracted a varied group of seven, ranging from Chataquos' Choice, a moon-shooting 3-year-old who just won his maiden in a claiming event, to 10-year-old millionaire Men's Exclusive.

Men's Exclusive, coming off a nearly five-month layoff, and Ride and Shine, who won a $100,000 optional claimer at Santa Anita last Sunday, are solid contenders, but a trio of local runners could be tough to beat in a race that, surprisingly, has no legitimate front-runner.

Green Team has won two straight races at Del Mar since being claimed for $32,000 at the Solano Fair by Jeff Bonde. He runs from off the pace and has surprised Bonde with his explosive stretch move, which has earned him Beyer Speed Figures of 101 and 100 in his last two starts.

"He's been a fun horse so far," Bonde said. "We were looking for a horse to take to Del Mar. He was a Cal-bred, and he'd been a real consistent runner. I knew because I'd run against him several times."

In his first start for Bonde, Green Team won a $40,000 claiming race by 5 1/2 lengths.

"The first time, he surprised me. He just exploded," Bonde said. "When he ran back, he did it again."

Trapper, a 3-year-old claimed for $32,000 from his debut on April 3, has not been worse than second in six starts for new trainer William E. Morey. Trapper has three straight victories, each against better opponents than the last.

Con Quixote suffered a hairline fracture of a cannon bone last year, but he may be coming into the race best of all.

After being off for more than seven months, Con Quixote did little in his first three starts back, but then won a $32,000 claimer at 4 1/2 furlongs on the turf.

"He had trouble. He had to check after he darn near clipped heels, and he dropped back," said Art Sherman, Con Quixote's trainer. "He's not that brave sometimes when things go wrong, but he really rallied."

Sherman said Con Quixote, a 4-year-old gelding, may simply be better at this time of year. He beat Men's Exclusive by seven lengths one year ago in the Bull Dog Stakes at Fresno and then ran third in the Cal Cup Sprint.

Sherman thinks it took time to overcome the injury, too.

"Once they get hurt, it takes time for them to get back in gear," he said. "Now he's doing good again."

Rounding out the field is stakes winner Hoovergetthekeys, who will try to rally late.