03/25/2004 12:00AM

Scratch puts 'Swank' on top


SUNLAND PARK, N.M. - The dynamics of Saturday's $250,000 WinStar Sunland Park Oaks changed dramatically Wednesday afternoon when trainer Bob Baffert decided that Yearly Report would not make the trip after she was medicated for muscle cramps following a morning gallop. While it was bad news for Sunland officials, her competitors breathed a collective sigh of relief.

"Dang the bad luck," Steve Asmussen's local assistant, Tony Mathiasen, commented dryly when he heard the news.

The scratch puts the Asmussen-trained Sister Swank in the driver's seat. Sister Swank, owned by Heiligbrodt Racing, had a productive winter at Fair Grounds, winning an entry-level allowance Nov. 27 and finishing second in the six-furlong Thelma on Jan. 3. Sister Swank encountered problems when attempting to stretch her speed around two turns in two subsequent races, including a third in the Grade 2 Silverbulletday Feb 14. Sister Swank has not raced since, but has been training well. She will be ridden by Shane Sellers.

She's the General, who races for Sunland Park owner Stanley Fulton, won her maiden against Cal-breds at Santa Anita on Jan. 15 at the Oaks distance of one mile, then scored against statebred allowance company at the same distance there on Feb. 19. A daughter of General Meeting, She's the General has given every indication that she is coming to hand at the right time. Trainer Rafael Becerra has given the mount to Sunland's leading rider, Casey Lambert.

The remarkably durable America America, who has made an amazing 22 career starts, enters off a third-place effort in the Grade 3 Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs and is the leading earner in the field, with $313,640. America America, owned by Cameron Express and trained by Franck Mourier, has wins at the distance and graded-stakes experience.

Five of the nine starters are locally trained, headed by Speedy Falcon, who is five for six in sprint races and faces two turns for the first time. She is trained by Henry Dominguez. Skyladysky turned in an impressive win in a one-mile allowance on Feb. 14 for trainer Gary Cross and is a good prospect for overlay players.

Ten entered for WinStar Derby

A field of 10, headed by uncoupled entries from the powerful barns of Doug O'Neill and Bob Baffert, has been entered for Sunday's $500,000 at 1 1/16 miles. O'Neill will send out Hosco and Perfect Moon, who have both won graded sprint stakes but have yet to prove their worth at a distance. Baffert's duo includes Consecrate, a gray son of Silver Charm who finished fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at 2 and was most recently third in the Grade 2 San Rafael on March 6 at Santa Anita. The other Baffert entrant, the lightly raced Teton Forest, won his maiden over seven furlongs at Santa Anita at first asking on Jan. 3 and most recently was second in a one-mile entry-level allowance on March 3.

Local horses finished in the top three spots in the Feb. 29 Borderland Derby at one mile here, and all three are returning in the WinStar. Go Kitty Go scored his maiden win in the Borderland for trainer Mac Millar, while New Mexico-bred hero Rocky Gulch finished a game second in his first effort against open company. The consistent Hi Teck Man finished third, less than three lengths back, and the connections of all three believe they have a reasonable chance at an upset.