04/11/2004 12:00AM

Oso Tricky splashes to win in Copper Top


SUNLAND PARK, N.M. - Danny Stafford and Steve Usherwood's Oso Tricky was one of the few 2-year-olds with more than one start entered for Sunland Park's closing day feature, the $186,384 Copper Top Futurity for New Mexico breds, and his experience may have made the difference as he displayed great poise in a winning effort under jockey Robert Johnson.

Oso Tricky went right to the front under Johnson and then relaxed while waiting for company. When challenged by 1-2 favorite Ring of the Run, who was racing as part of a four-horse Fred Danley entry, Oso Tricky opened back up to take a clear lead past the furlong marker. Ring of the Run made one last surge nearing the wire but came up a neck short after 4 1/2 furlongs in :54.16 over a sloppy, heavy track. The winner was trained by Ray Ashford and returned $6 at the windows.

Third-place finisher Sandias Peppermint was disqualified and placed tenth after angling in sharply on the turn and causing several of his rivals to take up.

* Steve Asmussen won his first Sunland training title by sending out 53 winners to defeat Henry Dominguez, who had 39. Asmussen also played a role in the Sunland jockey race, which came down to the closing day and ended in a dead heat between Casey Lambert and Ken Tohill. Lambert started the day with 68 wins to Tohill's 67 but was shut out on five mounts while Tohill scored with one of his six. Both jockeys benefited greatly from Asmussen mounts.