12/26/2003 12:00AM

Ciento looks hard to stop


SUNLAND PARK, N.M. - Ciento, who already has a lock on the New Mexico-bred horse of the year title, will be favored in Sunday's $100,000-added City of Sunland Park Handicap at 1 1/16 miles. Ciento, trained by Dick Cappellucci, has won seven of his last nine starts, dating back to Oct. 7, 2002, with his only two losses coming to the now retired Star Smasher. One of those losses came in last year's City of Sunland Park.

Ciento carries 125 pounds and spots his rivals from 7 to 12 pounds on Sunday. The connections of horses such as Hesa Bad Cat, Urlacher, and Ninety Nine Jack have opted to dodge Ciento this time around.

In his last start, the 6 1/2-furlong Johnie L. Jamison Handicap, Ciento broke from post 12 and lost ground much of the race, but delivered a courageous stretch run to catch Hesa Bad Cat at the wire. Ciento has drawn post 5 for Sunday's two-turn event, which should pose no problems for he and jockey Sal Gonzalez Jr.

Three-year-old Casperino poses an upset threat from the barn of Henry Dominguez. Casperino has proven he can handle the distance and is coming to the race with fresh legs, having been off since the Oct. 6 New Mexico Breeders Association Handicap at Sun Ray Park, run at Sunday's 1 1/16-mile distance.

Casperino finished fifth in that race, his first race against older horses. Casperino worked a solid six furlongs in 1:14.80 on Dec. 17 and very well could be nearing a peak performance. Regular rider Ricardo Jaime will be in the irons.