03/25/2003 12:00AM

Big money lures out-of-towners


SUNLAND PARK, N.M. - This weekend will be the richest in Sunland Park history, with the $250,000-added WinStar Sunland Park Oaks on Saturday and the $500,000-guaranteed Winstar Derby on Sunday.

With a planeload of shippers scheduled to arrive Friday morning, both races will have a distinctive Southern California feel; trainers Bob Baffert, Ted West, Doug O'Neill, A.C. Avila, and Nick Canani are all sending at least one horse to Sunland. Along with the big money and top trainers come such jockeys as Gary Stevens, Patrick Valenzuela, Pat Day, and Corey Lanerie.

The one-mile Oaks was drawn Tuesday morning. Himalayan, trained by Ted West, heads a field of nine. Himalayan comes into the race off consecutive thirds in Santa Anita's Grade 2 Santa Ynez and the $100,000 La Habra.

Asmussen will have an uncoupled entry that includes Souris, winner of the Top Flight at Arlington last year and the $75,000 Wishing Well at Delta Downs in her last start. Souris has yet to win at a distance of more than seven furlongs. Asmussen's other entrant, Valid Pulpit, has already won two stakes at Sunland and the Bayou City Stakes at Sam Houston. The Oaks will be her first two-turn race.

Ela Ela is trained by O.D. Jaimison and owned by Stanley Fulton, who also owns Sunland Park. She won her last start at Santa Anita against allowance company at 1 1/16 miles, her first race beyond six furlongs.

Sum Trick tops derby probables

The Winstar Derby, which will be drawn Thursday morning, has seven confirmed starters, including the Jaimison-trained Sum Trick, winner of the Riley Allison Futurity. Sum Trick is in line for a $250,000 bonus if he wins this race and then the Lone Star Derby in May. Since the Allison, he was second to Kafwain in the San Vincente and then fifth in the San Rafael, his first two-turn race.

Baffert will have two in the race: Spensive, Gary Stevens to ride, and Apalachian Thunder, with Pat Valenzuela up. Baffert gave both horses five-furlong drills, their final tune-ups, on Tuesday morning. Spensive worked in 58.40 seconds and Apalachian Thunder was timed in 59.20.

O'Neill confirmed on Monday he has a commitment from Day to ride Excessivepleasure in the Winstar. Winner of the California Breeder's Championship, Excessivepleasure was second in the one-mile Borderland Derby here March 2, his first race beyond seven furlongs. "I believe Day will be able to relax Excessivepleasure," said O'Neill, "better enabling him to get the distance."

Asmussen will send Borderland Derby winner Mr. Decatur and has booked Corey Lanerie to ride. The Borderland was a big step up for Mr. Decatur. It was his first stakes win and he showed a grittiness that he had previously lacked, dueling Excessivepleasure through the lane before getting up late.

Trainer Bart Hone plans to enter the talented but inexperienced Overflight, an In Excess gelding who so far has raced only twice, in sprint races at Sunland, both of which he won easily after breaking poorly. Winning Fans, trained by Eleuterio Martinez Jr., finished third in the Lecomte at Fair Grounds but subsequently was a dull seventh in the Louisiana Derby. Winning Fans is already on the grounds and worked five furlongs in a handy 57 seconds Monday.