11/07/2007 1:00AM

Rocky Gulch shifts gears for New Mexico Cup Day

EmailRocky Gulch will not be defending his title in the $180,000 Classic on New Mexico Cup Day on Sunday at Zia Park, but he will still be active on the richest card of the meet. Rocky Gulch has been entered in the $170,000 Sprint Championship, a six-furlong race that looks like a logical spot for the millionaire, who has made just one start since April.

The Sprint Championship will go as the final race on an 11-race, all-stakes card for New Mexico-breds. It will follow the featured Classic, which drew a field of nine. Also on the card, the unbeaten Peppers Pride will go for her 13th career win when she starts in the ninth, the $170,000 Championship for Fillies and Mares.

Purses for the program, which is made up of seven stakes for Thoroughbreds and four for Quarter Horses, are expected to top $2 million.

Rocky Gulch has been a constant on New Mexico Cup Day, winning the Classic in its first running in 2005, then becoming a millionaire with his win in 2006. He last raced on Oct. 23, finishing second in an allowance prep for the Sprint Championship. He drew post 10 for trainer Terry Walker, who has given the mount to Glen Murphy.

Romeos Wilson, who won the allowance prep, has been entered in the Classic.

Jockeys Joe Talamo and Patrick Valenzuela, regulars in Southern California, will be quite active at Zia on Sunday. Talamo has six mounts, beginning in the first with Bullets Brother in the 870-yard Championship. Valenzuela has seven mounts, starting in the fourth with I Can Cope in the $140,000 Juvenile.