02/26/2003 1:00AM

Repeat offenders clash in Distance Challenge


Sterling Sport and Classy Shot Glass, who each won three 870-yard stakes last year, head the two trials to the Grade 3, $35,000 New Mexico Distance Challenge at Sunland Park on Friday afternoon.

Owned by Muller Racing and trained by Denny Ekins, Sterling Sport was one of the top distance runners at Los Alamitos last year when he won the Pat Hyland Memorial Handicap, the Bull Rastus Handicap, and the MCI California Challenge.

In his most recent start he was second in the Moonshiner Handicap.

Classy Shot Glass, owned by Sandy Erwin and trained by James Lackey, won the Grade 1 MCI Challenge Championship, the MCI Oklahoma Challenge, and the Getaway Handicap.

He was third in the Juarez Handicap in his latest race.

'Whosleaving' after Champions berth

Whosleavingwho, the 2002 world champion, will be favored to earn a return trip to the Champion of Champions when he starts in the Grade 1, $206,000 Los Alamitos Winter Championship on Saturday night at Los Alamitos.

The winner of the 400-yard Winter Championship earns the year's first invitation to the Grade 1, $500,000 Champion of Champions on Dec. 13.

Whosleavingwho is one of five horses trainer Paul Jones has in the Winter Championship.

Whosleavingwho, owned by Jim Geiler and Kim Kessinger, may have improved since he won the 2002 Champion of Champions. He won his 400-yard Winter Championship trial in 19.38 seconds, just .04 seconds off Takin on the Cash's track record. He won his trial by 2 1/2 lengths over stablemate Miami Cartel, winner of the 2002 Los Alamitos Derby.

Last year, Whosleavingwho also won the Grade 1 Go Man Go Invitational and was second in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Championship.

Jones won all three of the Winter Championship trials. His other two trial winners were Kiptys First Dash and Agouti.

Kiptys First Dash won his trial with the second-fastest qualifying time of 19.62 seconds.

Agouti, winner of the 2002 Southern California Derby, won his third straight race with his trial victory in 19.63 seconds.

The fifth Jones-trained Championship qualifier is Rapidash, a finalist in two Grade 1 derbies last year.

New streak for Kendall's trainer?

Kendall Jackson will be the solid choice to start a new winning streak for trainer Mike Joiner when he starts in the Grade 2, $72,076 West Texas Maturity on Saturday at Sunland Park.

Joiner had a 10-race winning streak end on Tuesday. Only two of his 10 winners were favorites. On Sunday, his charges ran one-two-three in the Casino Cash Derby. Through last weekend, Joiner was winning at a 43 percent clip this year.

Kendall Jackson comes into the Maturity after setting the 400-yard world record in his trial. Kendall Jackson raced 400 yards in 19.073 seconds while winning his trial with a 19-m.p.h. tailwind. That broke the world record of 19.18 seconds shared by Bold Love and Honor Ease, who both posted their record times at Sunland Park.

Last year, Kendall Jackson set the 440-yard world record of 20.773 seconds when he won the Grade 1 MBNA America New Mexico Challenge at Sunland Park.

Kendall Jackson won the Sunland Express Handicap on Jan. 18. If he can also win the West Texas Maturity and the MBNA America New Mexico Challenge on April 6 he will earn a $100,000 bonus.