04/09/2004 12:00AM

Ring of the Run looks best


SUNLAND PARK, N.M. - Sunland Park closes out its 80-day winter-spring meet looking to the future with the $186,384 Copper Top Futurity for New Mexico-bred 2-year-olds going 4 1/2 furlongs.

Last year in this race, Rocky Gulch lost against statebreds for the only time in his career. Several good prospects are in line this time around.

In the March 23 trials for the Copper Top, trainer Fred Danley qualified four horses for owner William T. Stradley and Tom Williams. Of these, Ring of the Run was easily most impressive, winning by 6 1/2 lengths with the fastest time of the four heats of 51.92. Ring of the Run drew off under only mild urging from jockey J. Martin Bourdieu.

Copper Top qualifier Sandias Peppermint took a body slam at the start of his trial. Jockey James Bo White and Sandias Peppermint then were trapped along the rail in midstretch, but they found room to the outside and quickly took control. Trained by Jackie Riddle, Sandias Peppermint should not be overlooked, despite the slower trial time of 53.15.

Oso Tricky also impressed in his qualifier and is one of only three starters with two starts.

Trained by Ray Ashford, Jr., Oso Tricky drew off to win by 3 1/2 lengths with little urging from jockey Robert Johnson in 52.47, and his seasoning could be the decisive edge in the race.