03/20/2002 1:00AM

Sharp Performance will skip tough Pan Am


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Dave Donk is looking for big things from his grass specialist Sharp Performance this season. But Donk is not quite ready to throw his latest turf star in against the wolves in Saturday's $250,000 Pan American Handicap.

The Pan American figures to be a tough race with veterans Cetewayo and Whata Brainstorm among the expected starters. Because Sharp Performance has been on the bench since winning Belmont Park's 12-furlong Lawrence Realization Handicap last fall and has not faced older horses at the stakes level, Donk is content to wait until he gets back to New York before launching Sharp Performance's 4-year-old campaign.

"He's still a few weeks away from running," said Donk. "I nominated him for the Pan Am, but it's just coming up a bit too soon. I gave him the winter off to let him grow up a little bit. Right now my main goal for him is the Manhattan Handicap on Belmont Stakes Day. I'll probably get one race under his belt before that, possibly the Fort Marcy," on April 27 at Aqueduct.

Sharp Performance has won 4 of 6 career starts including the Lawrence Realization and Grade 3 Lexington Stakes. He was also third, beaten less than a length by Startac, in the Grade 1 Secretariat last August.

Along with Cetewayo and Whata Brainstorm, the prospective lineup for the Grade 2 Pan Am includes Drama Critic, Eltawaasul, Honor Glide, Monkey Puzzle, Mr. Livingston, and Zafonic's Song.

Bound for New Orleans

North East Bound was Louisiana bound on Wednesday, boarding a van for the Fair Grounds, where he will compete in Sunday's $700,000 Explosive Bid Handicap.

North East Bound comes off an impressive victory in the Grade 2 Canadian Turf Handicap, a race taken off the turf and run over the main course. In his two previous starts at the meet, North East Bound suffered defeats at the hands of Pisces in the Appleton Handicap and Del Mar Show in the Ft. Lauderdale Handicap.

"Our original plan was to wait for the Makers Mile at Keeneland, a race he won last year," trainer Bill Perry said on Wednesday. "But he's doing so well and the money is so good we figured it was worth sending him out for the race."

With his regular rider Jose Velez Jr. in Dubai for Saturday's World Cup, North East Bound will be ridden by Richard Migliore in the Explosive Bid.

Pisces, who has not started since running down North East Bound in the final strides to upset the Grade 2 Appleton Handicap on Jan. 4, has also been sent to the Fair Grounds for the Explosive Bid.

Bravo back in the saddle

Jockey Joe Bravo, who broke his left leg in several places last summer at Monmouth Park, will return to competition here Saturday.

Bravo, the perennial leader on the New Jersey circuit before being unseated by Eibar Coa this past season, has been working horses regularly in the morning and is expected to ride out the remainder of the Gulfstream meet (through April 24) before returning to New Jersey for the opening of the 2002 Monmouth season in May.

Stylelistick impresses at 3, too

Stylelistick, an impressive winner of the Green River Stakes at 2, opened her 3-year-old campaign on Wednesday by parlaying a hedge-skimming ride from Edgar Prado into a 1 3/4-length win over Lush Soldier in a very competitive second-level allowance race. Lush Soldier also finished second to Stylelistick in the Green River.

Styleistick, a daughter of Storm Cat and Magnificent Style, is trained by Bill Mott and owned by Team Valor.

Every Cloud turned in a big effort to finish third making her first start in five months, her first around two turns and first on turf. She too is a daughter of Storm Cat and a half sister to the multiple Grade 3 stakes winner Green Means Go.

Party Queen, the 7-5 favorite, suffered her first defeat in three career starts. She finished fourth after being forced to fan extremely wide into the stretch over a turf course that had the temporary rail out 30 feet.

* The Gulfstream Park jockeys will take on the local media in a softball game to benefit assistant trainer Yvonne Azeff Tuesday at 6 p.m. at O B Johnson Park in Hallandale. The field is located at the intersection of Pembroke Road and N W 8th Avenue.

No admission will be charged for the game, but donations to the Azeff fund will be accepted. There will also be auctions for racing memorabilia, including copies of the best-selling book "Seabiscuit." Azeff was injured in a training mishap here on Jan. 26. She is making good progress and recieving physical therapy after being in a coma for nearly a month.