12/16/2005 1:00AM

Distance only question for In Unity


There's little doubt that In Unity is at the top of the food chain among New Mexico-bred 2-year-olds when it comes to sprinting. But in Sunday's $125,000 Red Hedeman Mile at Sunland Park, In Unity will be tested at a route for the first time, leading a field of nine in the mile race.

Around one turn, In Unity has been dynamite. He has won 4 of his last 5 starts, including a stakes at Ruidoso in July. In Unity was then given time off, and he returned at Zia Park Oct. 21 and defeated allowance foes. That set him up nicely for a smashing win in Zia's New Mexico Cup Colt and Gelding Stakes on Nov. 6. On that day, In Unity blew the start and thus was unable to use his tactical speed. He circled the rest of the field, surged to the lead in midstretch, and pulled away for the convincing win.

Not only is Sunday's race In Unity's first route but also he will be starting from the outside post (No. 9). Mark Villa rides In Unity for trainer Raymond Ervin.

Oh Three Jack, trained by Michael Welch, appears to have found his niche as a router. He defeated maidens by almost nine lengths routing in the slop at Zia Oct. 6, but faltered against In Unity in the New Mexico Cup Colt and Gelding after making a threatening run on the far turn. He returned to a mile against allowance foes here Dec. 4, stalked the pace early, and blasted home to win going away by almost four lengths. Running a mile is his game, and that might be the equalizer for him against In Unity. Brian Theriot rides.

Latenite Band has defeated In Unity, and like In Unity will try a route for the first time. He won the George Maloof Futurity at Albuquerque Sept. 25, then had a slow start and was no factor in the New Mexico Cup Colt and Gelding. He certainly is capable of better and can threaten if he handles the route. Joe Martinez rides for trainer Lorence Lucero.