03/02/2006 12:00AM

Shippers take aim at local star Bang


Saturday's $50,000 Bill Thomas Memorial Handicap at Sunland Park may very well end with a Bang. The top sprinter on the circuit, Bang carries high weight of 123 pounds in the 6 1/2-furlong race for 3-year-olds and upward. The race has a field of six.

Bang, trained by Jackie Payton, comes off two straight victories here, including a 2 3/4-length victory in the Jan. 28 Budweiser Handicap. He owns the track record for 6 1/2 furlongs and 1,000 yards at Sunland, where he is 5 for 6. Tony Noguez rides.

Two Down Automatic has faced top sprinters in the South in his last two starts, finishing fifth to Rodeo's Castle in the Kenner BC at Louisiana Downs and eighth to Beau's Town in the King Cotton at Oaklawn. Trained by Steve Asmussen, Two Down Automatic has one win in three starts at Sunland, a rallying win in the mud in the Sunland Park Fall Derby in November 2004. He was fourth in the Bill Thomas Memorial Handicap last year.

When right, Diligent Prospect is capable of big things. He won his second career start, at Hollywood Park in May 2004, by over three lengths and posted a 102 Beyer Speed Figure. After winning an optional claimer in his next start, in December 2004, he took nine months off before returning in September to win a stakes at Fairplex. Diligent Prospect then finished eighth in both the Grade 3 Perryville at Keeneland and Grade 1 Malibu at Santa Anita before shipping to Turf Paradise, where he won the Swift Stakes by 4 3/4 lengths on Jan. 30.

Full Moon Madness, 11, has banked $1.2 million from 17 wins, including multiple stakes victories in Southern California. He had a poor start in the Budweiser and finished sixth.