Updated on 09/15/2011 12:36PM

Sharp Performance wins stakes debut in Lexington


ELMONT, N.Y. - In the days leading up to Sunday's $150,000 Lexington, trainer Dave Donk said he was using the race to see where Sharp Performance stood among stakes winners.

On a beautiful summer afternoon at Belmont Park, Donk discovered he has a stakes winner on his hands in Sharp Performance, the one-length Lexington winner.

Sharp Performance was making his stakes debut in the Grade 3 Lexington for 3-year-old grass runners.

Under jockey John Velazquez, Sharp Performance parked himself behind the early pacesetters, Package Store and Judge Spada, in third position in the 1 1/4-mile race.

Package Store widened his advantage around the far turn and still had something left in the tank after honest fractions of 24.41 seconds, 47.75, 1:11.27, and 1:34.79. But Sharp Performance was on the move from the outside and motored past the pacesetter with less than a sixteenth remaining.

Whitmore's Conn finished third, 4 1/4 lengths behind Package Store, and was followed under the wire by Volponi, Kalu, Strategic Partner, Epic Pursuit, and Judge Spada.

Strategic Partner was the slight favorite over Sharp Performance ($7.60).

The final time over a firm course was 1:58.93, a stakes record.

Velazquez said Sharp Performance, who was making his fourth start in the Lexington, is still inexperienced. "He's still very green, but can really run. I knew [Package Store] was going to be tough to run down, but we had the momentum. He ducked in a bit when we got close to Package Store, but once I hit him left-handed, he got his mind on business."

Sharp Performance, a son of Kris S., is now undefeated in three grass races at Belmont. Prior to the Lexington, Sharp Performance won a maiden race in May and a month later, a first-level allowance on Belmont Stakes Day.

Donk said he has a couple of options for Sharp Performance, who is owned by John Behrendt and William Bloom. One of them is the Grade 1 $400,000 Secretariat at Arlington Park on Aug. 18.

"My ambitious plan for him was the Secretariat; now that he's won this one, I guess we'll have to consider that a little," Donk said.