01/14/2005 1:00AM

Stamps One top qualifier at Sunland

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Fastest qualifier Stamps One shoots for his first stakes win at 870 yards and his third straight victory in the $76,028 West Texas Marathon at Sunland Park on Sunday afternoon.

A minor stakes winner as a juvenile, the 5-year-old Stamps One may be positioned to become an important 870-yard stakes competitor, with two wins in his last two starts at the distance. He won a Sunland Park allowance race on Dec. 7 by prevailing in a stretch battle, then won his West Texas Marathon trial by 3 1/4 lengths. Stamps One's time of 44.771 seconds was the quickest time from the two trials, held on Jan. 1. He will start from post 6.

Stamps One's primary rivals are also horses who could prove to be premier 870-yard stakes runners this year.

Meter This Juan was the runner-up in Stamps One's trial after a wide trip, and may have a wide trip again in the Marathon, since he has the outside post position in the eight-horse field. Meter This Juan was the trial favorite on the strength of two 870-yard allowance wins in his prior two starts, which were his first races around the turn.

Curlys Fortune, a consistent allowance campaigner, won the second of two trials after being checked at the start. He still managed to catch the front-runners in the stretch and prevailed by a neck over third-fastest qualifier Premier Cleat. Curlys Fortune, who will be making his 870-yard stakes debut, recorded the second-fastest qualifying time of 45.20 seconds.

Curlys Fortune's races have been well spaced. He has not returned on less than three weeks' rest since June 2003, the last time he raced at a distance shorter than 870 yards. In his 10 starts at the distance, he has five wins and two second-place efforts. He will use his late run from the seventh post position.

In the second trial, the lightly raced Premier Cleat held the lead over Curlys Fortune until deep in the stretch. He could improve off that trial effort, since it was his first 870-yard start since July 1, and can use his speed from the inside post position.

In his start before his trial, Premier Cleat was the third-place finisher in the Grade 2 Sunland Fall Derby, giving him the class edge over his West Texas Marathon rivals.

Ocean Runaway tops Pacific Coast awards

Ocean Runaway, a leading contender for the champion 2-year-old and world champion titles, was named the Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Racing Association's horse of the year. He was also honored as champion 2-year-old colt.

Gary and Cindy Muller, owners of Ocean Runaway, were named owners of the year, and the colt's trainer, Denny Ekins, was recognized with the Trainer Special Achievement award.

Ocean Runaway's breeder, Daniel Lucas, who also bred Champion of Champions winner Cash For Kas, was honored as breeder of the year.