10/11/2001 12:00AM

Sharp Performance extra sharp


ELMONT, N.Y. - As many times as Sharp Performance has lived up to his name this year, trainer David Donk still believes the best is yet to come.

"He does have a lot of talent, he's still green, but that's great because he still has a lot of room to improve," said Donk, who trained top turf horses Awad and Incurable Optimist.

Donk hopes to see some of that improvement Saturday when Sharp Performance tops an eight-horse field entered in the Grade 3, $150,000 Lawrence Realization Handicap for 3-year-olds at 1 1/2 miles on the turf.

Sharp Performance is 3 for 3 at Belmont, including a one-length victory in the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes in July. Sharp Performance has only raced once since, finishing third, beaten only one-half length, in the Grade 1 Secretariat at Arlington on Aug. 18 over a yielding turf course.

Donk said jockey Chris McCarron told him that Sharp Performance made five moves in that race, including a premature move to the lead at the eighth pole.

"When he asked him to move he gave him too much," Donk said. "When he asked him to take back he took back too much."

Donk had planned to run Sharp Performance in last month's Jamaica Handicap, but the horse developed filling in a leg, forcing him to miss the race.

John Velazquez will ride Sharp Performance, the 120-pound highweight, from the rail.

The major threats to Sharp Performance are Megantic and Tiger Trap, the one-two finishers in a 10-furlong, second-level allowance race here on Sept. 8.

Megantic, trained by Bill Mott, went gate to wire that day to win by one length. He has won his last two races, and has pleased Mott with his steady improvement. Javier Castellano gets the mount as Mott's main jockey, Jerry Bailey, will be riding at Calder on Saturday.

Tiger Trap, trained by Neil Drysdale, was late switching leads in that race when he closed to be second. That was his first start since April 25 when he finished third in a money allowance race at Hollywood Park, a race in which a course record was set. In that race, he broke through the gate before the start and came back bleeding from the mouth.

Drysdale believes 12 furlongs should suit Tiger Trap nicely. "That's why he is here," Drysdale said. "He's been pointed at that race; he's a mile- and-a-half horse."

Whitmore's Conn, Rapid Ryan, Berchtesgaden, and Topdown complete the field. Summer Colony was entered for main-track only.

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