01/26/2007 12:00AM

Invader challenges Stealth Cat


There's no secret about Stealth Cat's ascent at Sunland Park. Stealth Cat comes off two smashing wins for trainer Steve Asmussen and goes into Sunday's $50,000 El Paso Times Handicap as the filly to beat.

The water gets considerably deeper, however, as Southern California invader Berriestoheaven comes into town for the 6 1/2-furlong stakes for 3-year-old fillies. Despite the presence of those two standouts, the race lured a field of 11.

Stealth Cat has blossomed of late for owner J. Kirk Robison. She won her maiden at Arlington last summer and was third in a $25,000 claimer at Keeneland last fall. She was claimed out of that race by Scott Blasi, at the time substituting for the suspended Asmussen.

She didn't run again until Sam Houston's Bara Lass on Dec. 2. After a sluggish start she was hustled into contention, only to falter late, ending up sixth, beaten 13 lengths.

She was brought to Sunland after that race and has flourished. Stealth Cat romped by 8 1/2 lengths over allowance foes at Sunland on Dec. 23 and then backed it up with a 2 1/2-length win over allowance rivals Jan. 7. She won far more easily than the margin suggests. Glen Murphy rides at 120 pounds.

But Stealth Cat may not go favored. That role may fall to Berriestoheaven. She comes off a Southern California campaign that saw her win her maiden in a dirt sprint at Del Mar last summer, win the Anoakia on the main track at Santa Anita on Oct. 21, and most recently finish fifth in a pair of stakes, one a sprint at Hollywood Park and her last the Blue Norther, a mile turf race at Santa Anita. She was under the care of Paddy Gallagher in California but surfaces here for Dwain Grissom.

If Berriestoheaven acclimates to her new surroundings she will be tough. Michael Ziegler rides the 122-pound highweight.

Truly a Treasure could be a spoiler. She won her maiden by two lengths at Zia Park on Dec. 11, then came to Sunland. She dueled for the early lead and drew off to win by 15 1/2 lengths in the mud Jan. 19 over restricted claimers.

Truly a Treasure takes a big step up in class but may well have turned the corner. And she would love to see more rain based on that last run. Tanner Riggs rides at 117 pounds.