03/26/2003 1:00AM

Claimed Himalayan seeks new peak


SUNLAND PARK, N.M. - Trainer Ted H. West made a wise move by claiming Himalayan for $80,000 on Dec. 31. A win in Saturday's $250,000-added WinStar Sunland Park Oaks would make it seem brilliant.

In two races since the claim, Himalayan, a Mountain Cat filly out of the Clever Trick mare Polly Daniels, has finished third in the Grade 2 Santa Ynez and the La Habra - both sprints - for owner Jeffrey Sengara. On Saturday, Himalayan will be a leading contender to take down a big purse while West and Sengara find out if she can handle two turns.

"There are no sprint stakes out here right now that fit, and we wanted to try her at a mile and see how she does," West said. "She has moderate route breeding, and this is a good opportunity to see if she can handle the distance - plus we definitely want to get a stakes win for her."

The task of conserving the speed of Himalayan during the Oaks will fall to G.F. Almeida, because regular rider Corey Nakatani is staying home to ride Kona Gold at Santa Anita Saturday.

"Almeida is a good jockey who rides a lot of horses for me and I have confidence that he will get along with her well and be able to rate her," West said.

The Oaks has plenty of speed and Himalayan could find herself in the unfamiliar role of stalker. Himalayan has drawn the outside post in the nine-horse field, and there is a short run into the clubhouse turn.

Seven expected for WinStar Derby

Barring any late changes, seven horses are set to go in the WinStar Derby when the race is drawn Thursday morning. Sum Trick, owned by Sunland Park owner Stan Fulton, won the Riley Allison Futurity here in December, and can earn a $250,000 bonus if he wins the WinStar and then the Lone Star Derby in May.

Sum Trick will be in a field that includes two Bob Baffert-trained runners, Spensive and Apalachian Thunder, who will be ridden by Gary Stevens and Pat Valenzuela, respectively. Trainer Steve Asmussen will send in Mr. Decatur, winner of the Borderland Derby here March 2, with Corey Lanerie to ride. Trainer Doug O'Neill will have California Breeder's Championship winner Excessivepleasure on the same plane with Baffert's horses. Pat Day will ride.