12/02/2005 1:00AM

Mr. Trieste goes after 8th in row


Mr. Trieste, who has not lost in more than 15 months, will bid for his eighth straight win Sunday in the $100,000 Distance Championship Handicap at Zia Park in Hobbs, N.M.

A 1 1/8-mile race, the Distance Championship tops the closing day program of the track's inaugural meet. There are also two other stakes on the card. The $75,000 Zia Park Express has been brought back after high winds forced its cancellation last Sunday, and the $100,000 Zia Park Championship for Quarter Horses drew Planet Holland.

Mr. Trieste has not made a wrong move in a long time. He won the $34,000 Albuquerque Derby on Sept. 19, 2004, and has not been beaten since.

His streak includes a win at 1 1/8 miles in the $77,000 San Juan County Commissioner's at SunRay Park in September.

From there, Mr. Trieste moved to Zia, where he has set track records in both of his local starts. He won the $65,000 Kachina Mile on Oct. 22 in 1:36.60, and the $81,000 Veteran on Nov. 12, when he covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.

Mr. Trieste has won races from both on and off the pace and could get a stalking trip from his outside post Sunday. Trainer Gary Cross has given the mount to Ken Tohill.

The biggest challenge to Mr. Trieste could be Silver Axe, a three-time stakes winner who in July ran second by a head to Lord of the Game in the Grade 2 Cornhusker Breeders' Cup at 1 1/8 miles at Prairie Meadows.

Silver Axe last raced at Delaware Park on Nov. 12, winning the $59,000 Shecky Greene by a neck. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 102 for his win. Trainer Tom Amoss has given the mount to Glenn Corbett.

Mr. Trieste and Silver Axe are co-highweights at 125 pounds.

Others in the six-horse field are Don't Strike Out, who was second by a neck to Mr. Trieste in the Veteran, and Inamorato, who makes his first start for owners Jerry and Sandy Heflin and trainer Cody Autrey.

- In the 6 1/2-furlong Express, Jungle Prince invades from California. In his last start, he was third by a head in the Grade 3 Morvich at Santa Anita. Orphan Brigade has won his last three starts, including the $42,000 Eillo at Zia. Orphan Brigade was also entered in the $50,000 KLAQ at Sunland Park on Saturday.