01/18/2007 1:00AM

Silver Expression gets tested


Silver Expression has a chance Saturday to affirm her status as the top New Mexico-bred3-year-old filly when she heads Sunland Park's $125,000 La Senora Handicap.

The six-furlong stakes lured a tough field of 11, so Silver Expression's task is far from an easy one. Nevertheless, she deserves top billing off her 2006 season. After a couple promising outings in September, Silver Expression added Lasix for her Oct. 14 maiden assignment at Zia Park and romped home by 11 1/2 lengths. She returned to Zia for the Nov. 12 New Mexico Juvenile Filly and won by a neck as the 6-5 favorite.

While she raced almost wire-to-wire in her maiden win, Silver Expression's New Mexico Juvenile Filly victory was accomplished from far off the pace. In other words, she has talent and versatility.

There's a new shooter facing Silver Expression in the La Senora. Wild Ms. Pinke, trained by Bart Hone, is unbeaten in two starts. She won her debut at Zia in September and despite not racing again for three months came back to win impressively at Sunland on Dec. 29.

Sizzle and Nimble Band finished second and third to Silver Expression in the New Mexico Juvenile Filly. Sizzle just failed to hold off Silver Expression that day after setting a sizzling pace. She came back Dec. 29 to duel and falter against Wild Ms. Pinke, but may improve off that run.

Nimble Band brings plenty of speed into this as well. She chased the pace and ended up 5 1/2 lengths back in the New Mexico Juvenile Filly. Most recently, she dueled for the early lead but had to settle for second, 4 1/2 lengths behind Wild Ms. Pinke on Dec. 29.

Tohill makes the right choice

Ken Tohill was the regular rider for Mr. Trieste, the heavy favorite in last Saturday's $50,000 Winsham Lad Handicap. So, when he showed up instead on Guiding Hand for trainer Chris Hartman, it should have told handicappers something.

Guiding Hand jumped out to a clear lead in the mile race, set a solid pace, and was never threatened as he marched home 3 1/2 lengths clear.

Tohill's former ride, Mr. Trieste, never mustered a run, finishing fifth. This marked his first loss locally in five tries. Defending champion Don't Strike Out was no factor as well, finishing ninth.

"Chris said I would really get along well with this horse," Tohill said. "He's a real athletic animal. I'm so glad to have the opportunity to ride him."

A 4-year-old California-bred son of Helmsman, Guiding Hand may next target the $50,000 Curribot Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile race on Feb. 25.