06/16/2004 11:00PM

Three speedsters may set up Green Team


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Black Jack Road's long-standing six-furlong track record at Bay Meadows could be challenged in Saturday's $150,000 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Ten older runners are signed up for the Grade 3 race, and it should be blazingly fast from gate to wire.

Three speedballs - Hombre Rapido, Giovannetti, and El Dorado Shooter - will be dueling for the lead, and each has shown an ability to withstand a hot pace duel and still win. They will be challenged, though, by the fact that they must withstand the pressure of a three-way duel instead of simply having to subdue one rival.

The draw may favor Giovannetti, who drew post 9, outside of Hombre Rapido, who drew the 4. El Dorado Shooter drew the post 10, but he wasn't able to match Giovannetti when they met in the Ken Maddy Sprint at Golden Gate Fields in February.

"If I had my choice I wouldn't want the 1 hole," Giovannetti's trainer, Frank Monteleone, said before the draw.

Hombre Rapido's trainer, John Sadler, would have preferred an outside draw, noting, "most horses like to run free."

Post 4 shouldn't present too much of a problem.

"He can make the lead from inside, but he'll have to break well," Sadler said. "If he gets bogged down inside, he doesn't feel comfortable. The break is the key, to see who can get first jump."

Conventional wisdom would look for a stalker or closer in a race filled with this much early speed.

"It's definitely a concern, but you can't worry about it," Sadler said. "How it falls is for the handicappers to figure out."

The horse to beat could be the 119-pound highweight, Green Team, who put together four straight 100-plus Beyer Speed Figures after being claimed for $32,000 last summer by trainer Jeff Bonde. He won the California Cup Sprint and was second in the Sunshine Millions Sprint. He has a perfect stalking style for this spot.

He comes off a disappointing sixth-place finish in the Tiznow at Hollywood Park on April 24. It was the first time he had finished worse than second in nine starts since Bonde claimed him.

Bonde expects him to bounce back Saturday.

"He was way too close," said Bonde, adding that the 7 1/2 furlongs of the Tiznow "may have been too far for him. He's best when he stalks and pounces."

"After the last race, we had a tired horse, but I took him home for a couple weeks, and he got some TLC. He's a fire-eating dragon now."

A deep closer, Debonair Joe has shown improvement sprinting of late.

"We're happy to see a lot of speed," his trainer, Sergio Ledezma, said.