12/18/2003 1:00AM

Digitman seeks eighth straight win


Arizona-invader Digitman will be taking a jump in class when he goes for his eighth straight victory, in the Grade 2, $98,039 Sunland Fall Derby on Saturday at Sunland Park in New Mexico.

Owner-trainer Ricardo Ramirez will need a career-best effort from Digitman to win. But then Digitman has done just about everything that was asked of him this year, winning 10 of 13 starts, all but one of them in Arizona. He won at Rillito Park, Cochise County Fairgrounds, Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds, Yavapai Downs, and Turf Paradise. Digitman won three stakes: the Grade 3 Turf Paradise Derby, the Yavapai Downs Derby and the Santa Cruz County Derby.

Obviously, Digitman has no trouble adapting to new surroundings, which was the case in the Sunland Fall Derby trials on Dec. 5, when he ran the fastest-qualifying time of 19.997 seconds for the 400 yards in his Sunland Park debut. He nosed out the Sunland Fall Derby's second-fastest qualifier, Because Shes Royal, for the trial victory.

Because Shes Royal is also stepping up in class. She has made only six career starts, and her second-place finish in her trial was her first out since winning her maiden on May 25 at Ruidoso Downs.

Apollos Ten Bears, First N Kool, and RG Special N Traffic bring solid graded-stakes credentials into the Sunland Fall Derby.

Apollos Ten Bears, the third-fastest qualifier, has three Grade 3 stakes wins and defeated First N Kool by three-quarters of a length in one of the trials. First N Kool won the Grade 2 Sam Houston Derby this summer. Apollos Ten Bears ran a 20.017-second qualifying time for his win in the trials.

The sixth- through 10th-fastest qualifiers all come out of the first trial, won by Casino Cash Derby winner RG Special N Traffic.

RG Special N Traffic is a winner of four of five starts this year, with one second-place finish.

Also on the card, Red Rime appears well-placed to shoot for the richest victory of her two-year career in the $125,000 Lou Wooten Handicap for New Mexico-bred females over 400 yards.

A 3-year-old, Red Rime came off a four-month layoff to win a Sunland Park allowance race. She was moved up to winner by the disqualification of XS Nitro, who came into that race off a track-record win in the New Mexico Breeders Handicap at SunRay Park.

Thatsa Blazin Chick, winner of five of eight starts in 2002, will be making her first start since Feb. 18, when she had a rough trip and finished sixth in the Grade 3 NMHBA Stakes, at 3-1.

Jones tries to stay hot in Ford

Los Alamitos leading trainer Paul Jones will try to raise his recent torrid winning percentage in stakes races when he sends out two horses in the $27,850 Paul Ford Handicap at Los Alamitos on Saturday night.

Last weekend, Jones scored upset wins in three of the four Grade 1 races at Los Alamitos - the $1.3 million Los Alamitos Million with A Regal Choice, the $500,000 Champion of Champions with The Down Side, and the $155,950 Southern California Derby with Deefirst. He also was second in the $175,000 Marathon National with Available Credit.

Jones, who surpassed the $4 million mark in 2003 purse winnings last weekend, will saddle Fed Ex Together and Tricky Dust in the Ford.

Fed Ex Together made his Los Alamitos debut and his first start for Jones in a 350-yard allowance race on Nov. 23, winning by a neck in a sharp 17.52 seconds.

Tricky Dust, a gelded son of the Thoroughbred Favorite Trick, qualified for last year's Grade 1 Rainbow Futurity - and his breeding indicates he should like the 550-yard distance of the Ford.

Namehimastreaker meets sharp foes

The venerable Namehimastreaker, a 9-year-old who has earned $805,395, will be tested by younger, sharp rivals in the $125,000 Challenger Six Handicap for New Mexico-breds at 870 yards on Sunday at Sunland Park.

A winner of 28 of 93 career starts, Namehimastreaker comes off a victory in the New Mexico Horseman's Association Handicap and a second-place finish after a three-wide trip in an allowance race behind Totally Houston.

Totally Houston, who has 4 wins and 3 seconds in his last 7 starts, returns in the Challenger Six.

Secret Frills, with four wins and a second in six outs this year, returned from an eight-month layoff to finish second in a Dec. 5 allowance race as the 7-5 favorite.