04/18/2002 12:00AM

Sharp Performance ready for 2002 bow


JAMAICA, N.Y. - Sharp Performance, a multiple-stakes winner on turf as a 3-year-old, will make his 2002 debut in next Saturday's $100,000 Fort Marcy Handicap at Aqueduct, trainer David Donk said.

A son of Kris S, Sharp Performance proved to be one of the top marathon turf runners of his age group in 2001 winning the 10-furlong Lexington Stakes and the 12-furlong Lawrence Realization Handicap. He was beaten only one-half length in the Secretariat Stakes over a yielding Arlington Park turf course in August.

Sharp Performance wintered in south Florida at Gulfstream Park, where trainer Donk was hoping to get his season started. But Sharp Performance spiked a fever and lost some training time.

"My main goal is the Manhattan," Donk said, referring to the Grade 1, 10-furlong race run June 8 at Belmont Park. "I need to start somewhere. He's a horse with a lot of quality. Although he's a mile-and-a-quarter horse he's quite tractable."

The Grade 3 Fort Marcy is run at 1 1/16 miles over Aqueduct's turf course. Sharp Performance finished third, beaten only one-length in his only start at that distance, which happened in his career debut.

Others pointing to the Fort Marcy, the first turf stakes of the year in New York, are Capsized, Dr. Kashnikow, I'm All Yours, Megantic, Shadow Caster, and Strategic Partner. Trainer Christophe Clement is expected to run either Forbidden Apple or Proud Man.

McLaughlin back, horses en route

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin arrived in New York from Dubai earlier this week, and a string of about 38 horses will soon be joining him at Belmont Park and Saratoga.

McLaughlin will be once again be training mostly for Darley Stud Management. Holdovers from last year's crop include the talented Bakhoor and Aslaaf. He will also be training many of the 3-year-olds who raced for Godolphin and trainer Eoin Harty last year as juveniles in California and Arlington Park.

"I'd say 80 percent of the horses are 3-year-olds," said McLaughlin, whose first shipment of horses is expected to arrive Sunday.

* Wrangler, winner of the Paumonok Handicap and the General George Handicap this winter, will make his next start in the $100,000 Bold Ruler Handicap on May 11 at Belmont Park, trainer Jimmy Jerkens said.

* Mounty, a 4-year-old New York bred gelding, died of cardiovascular collapse after the running of Thursday's fourth race. Mounty finished last in the field of six and appeared to be suffering from heat exhaustion after being unsaddled. He got up and fell down several times.