02/22/2008 12:00AM

Shippers challenge Rollicking Caller


Rollicking Caller looks to reestablish himself at the top of the New Mexico handicap division when he heads Sunday's $50,000 Curribot Handicap at Sunland Park. The 1 1/16-mile event for 3-year-olds and upward is named after a New Mexico favorite who campaigned at the highest levels on this circuit for years. The Curribot drew a field of seven.

Rollicking Caller, owned Maria Gonzalez and trained by Ramon Gonzalez, made his case for division supremacy in 2007 by winning 5 of 16 starts. He won the New Mexico State Fair Handicap at Albuquerque on Sept. 23, was third in the Budweiser Handicap there Oct. 6, easily won an allowance race at Zia Park on Oct. 23, and put an exclamation point on his nice run with a victory in the Veteran's Stakes there Nov. 10. He faltered to seventh as the 2-1 favorite in the Zia Park Championship on Dec. 9, but came here for the Winsham Lad on Jan. 12 and bounced back with a good runner-up performance. Carlos Silva rides at 120 pounds.

A couple of shippers loom as significant hurdles, however. Red Rock Creek, also tabbed at 120 pounds and owned and trained by Steve Asmussen, comes in with his own fine resume. He was second in the Remington Green on the turf at Remington on Oct. 21 and was second in the Zia Park Championship. He romped in an allowance race at Fair Grounds on Jan. 1 and was recently second in the Maxxam Gold Cup Handicap at Sam Houston on Jan. 26. He's won 17 races in his career and looks far from done at age 7. Casey Lambert rides.

Shining Day invades from Northern California for owner-trainer David Wolochuk. He doesn't have the resume of the top two, but comes here sharp. He finished second in a $25,000 claimer at Golden Gate on Jan. 11 and third there in another $25,000 claimer Jan. 31. Wolochuk claimed him that day and is a superb 33 percent first off a claim. Shining Day's fourth-place finish in the California Turf Championship at Bay Meadows last August shows he's not out of his element in a spot like this. Jake Barton rides.