03/24/2005 12:00AM

Skip and Go faces new shooter


Victories in the Winsham Lad and Curribot handicaps have moved Skip and Go to the top of the heap at Sunland Park. But when you are the fastest gun in town, someone is always looking to knock you off.

That is the case in Saturday's $105,900 Sunland Park Handicap. The 1 1/8-mile event gives Skip and Go the chance to prove he is the best at Sunland Park, but he will receive a stiff challenge from Southern California shipper Night Patrol, who shipped here and won this race in 2003.

will carry high weight of 122 pounds in a field of nine. Night Patrol is the second highweight at 120.

Skip and Go has always been a nice horse. Last year he won 4 of 12 starts, including a pair of stakes at Arapahoe Park in the summer. He romped by over 12 lengths there in the Colorado Derby on Aug. 15. Skip and Go did not race again until late fall, when he finished fourth and sixth in his first two New Mexico outings.

But after a strong allowance run here Dec. 7, Skip and Go turned the corner in the Winsham Lad, stalking the pace and powering home by 1 1/2 lengths over Two Down Automatic, who came right back to win a stakes. Skip and Go then went wire to wire in the slop to win the Feb. 5 Curribot.

He has put in solid works since for trainer Jose Gonzalez and will be ridden Saturday by Ken Tohill, who was also aboard in the Winsham Lad and Curribot.

Night Patrol has competed against some of the elite runners out West and has run in several graded stakes in Southern California, on both surfaces. Night Patrol has 11 wins from 60 starts and earnings of $818,000.

He comes off a victory in the Turf Paradise Breeders' Cup Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on the turf on Feb. 12. His Sunland Park Handicap win in 2003 was his only start over this track.

Alfredo Juarez Jr. rides for new trainer Henry Dominguez. Night Patrol is coupled with Cozzen Vinny, who has won two sprints since moving here last month. Juarez is also named on Cozzen Vinny.