12/28/2005 1:00AM

DM Shicago faces new challenge


Three-time derby winner DM Shicago, the 2004 champion 2-year-old gelding, concludes what will certainly be another championship season when he makes his first start against older rivals in the Grade 1, $400,000 Championship at Sunland Park on Friday afternoon.

DM Shicago is riding a five-race winning streak that includes Grade 1 wins in the Ruidoso Derby, Rainbow Derby, and the All American Derby last summer at Ruidoso Downs. In the Rainbow Derby, DM Shicago defeated Ocean Runaway, who won the Champion of Champions at Los Alamitos on Dec. 10.

DM Shicago also won the 2004 All American Futurity to become the only horse to win the All American Futurity and then return to sweep the three derbies at Ruidoso Downs.

The 3-year-old DM Shicago was training to face older horses in the Grade 1, $500,000 Champion of Champions but became ill a week before the race and did not compete. Trainer Carl Draper then shipped DM Shicago to Sunland Park for the Championship at Sunland.

DM Shicago, an earner of $1,812,513, has won 7 of 11 career starts, all at Ruidoso Downs.

Vals Fortune, with 20 wins and 2 seconds from 22 career starts, is riding a 10-race winning streak. He has made 20 starts against Louisiana-bred competition, but has shown he fits in any race with two stakes wins against open company in his last three outs. Those open wins were in the Grade 3 East Challenge Championship on May 22 and a dead-heat win in the Grade 1 Refrigerator Handicap at Lone Star Park.

Last defeated on April 11, 2004, Vals Fortune has scored eight stakes wins during his 10-race winning streak and has improved his lifetime earnings to $1,085,841.

A Long Goodbye may have home-track advantage. In the New Mexico Challenge on April 3, his most recent Sunland appearance, he set the 440-yard world record of 20.68 seconds.

Also entered are Like Frankie and Me, the Champion of Champions runner-up; Planet Holland, winner of the Zia Park Championship; Push the Pace, who won the West Texas Maturity; and Fredricksburg, who finished in the dead heat with Vals Fortune in the Refrigerator.

Davidson Ranch pair look tough

The Davidson Ranch will be represented by the potent pair of fastest qualifier A Smokie Chick and Grade 3 New Mexico Juvenile Challenge winner One Special Shade in the Grade 2, $192,510 Sunland Fall Futurity on Saturday.

A Smokie Chick has made only four well-spaced starts, winning her last two outs. She showed she may fit at this level when she returned from a five-month layoff to win her trial in 19.345 seconds for 400 yards, the fastest time from six trials.

One Special Shade has four wins and a close second in the Grade 1 Dash for Cash Futurity from her last five starts. She finished a nose behind two-time Grade 1 futurity winner All American Winner in the Dash for Cash Futurity.

Si Puede the class of Fall Derby

Also on Saturday, fastest qualifier Si Puede, winner of 9 of her last 10 starts, has a speed and class advantage in the Grade 2, $100,718 Sunland Fall Derby.

Si Puede's only loss in her last 10 starts was a third-place effort as the 6-5 favorite in the Grade 1 Texas Classic Derby. Among her nine wins during the 10-race span are victories in the Grade 2 Sam Houston Derby, Grade 3 TQHA Classic, and the Grade 3 Rheudasil Handicap.