10/12/2001 11:00PM

Talent overcomes inexperience


ELMONT, N.Y. - Everything trainer David Donk believed about Sharp Performance rang true in Saturday's $150,000 Lawrence Realization Handicap at Belmont Park: Sharp Performance does have a lot of talent and he is still green.

Sharp Performance displayed both traits Saturday while weaving his way to a 4 1/4-length victory in the Grade 3 Lawrence Realization before a crowd of 7,676. Tiger Trap finished second, two lengths ahead of Whitmore's Conn. Megantic and Topdown completed the order of finish.

Berchtesgaden dumped jockey Richard Migliore leaving the gate, while Rapid Ryan was scratched in the paddock for wearing non-regulation shoes.

It was the fourth victory in six starts for Sharp Performance, all the wins coming at Belmont.

Although Sharp Performance, a son of Kris S., prefers to do his running from off the pace, he had little choice but to be in the game early on Saturday. With Topdown setting dawdling fractions of 24.97 seconds and 49.94, Sharp Performance was about a length off the pace around the clubhouse turn.

Under John Velazquez, Sharp Performance took the lead six furlongs out, put away Megantic turning for home, and then ran away from Tiger Trap while ducking in and out in the stretch.

"I held him until the three-quarter pole and I said I'm not going to fight with him anymore because it's not worth it and he's bigger than me anyway," Velazquez said. "At the five-sixteenths pole, I had to shake him up just to get his attention. Down the lane I hit one way, he ducks in, I show him the whip this way, he goes the other way.

"He's still a big boy," Velazquez added. "I think he's only going to get better. These kinds of races are going to help him a lot."

Donk trained the multiple Grade 1 winner Awad. Unlike that late-running horse, however, Sharp Performance is not at the mercy of pace.

Sharp Performance covered the 1 1/2 miles in 2:27.04 over firm turf and returned $3.80 as the odds-on choice. Donk said he has no plans to run Sharp Performance in the Breeders' Cup Turf, but may point him to the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby on Nov. 25.