01/26/2004 12:00AM

Sunland: Ciento repeats


SUNLAND PARK, N.M. - Ciento carried 127 pounds to victory in the $125,000-added New Mexico State University Handicap, proving once again his dominance in the New Mexico-bred handicap division. Ciento, with regular jockey Sal Gonzalez Jr. in the saddle, settled off the pace as usual while Hesa Bad Cat controlled the pace through a half in 46.45 seconds. Hesa Bad Cat resisted the bid of Ninety Nine Jack on the far turn and had a clear lead entering the stretch, but Ciento was beginning to roll and by the sixteenth pole had taken command. Ciento ran the two-turn mile in 1:37.06 and returned $3.80 as the betting choice. Hesa Bad Cat held the place to complete a $16.20 exacta.

Trainer Dick Cappellucci has managed Ciento's career with an eye toward longevity and maximum returns. Ciento ran six times in 2003, with five wins and a second while earning $276,654. His overall record is now 17 wins from 30 starts and more than $710,000 in winnings. "Realistically, if we were to try running him against open company he wouldn't be as effective," Cappellucci said.

"The statebred series for his group is over at this meet, and I'm going to give him a six-month break now."

The win for Ciento gives him back-to-back triumphs in the New Mexico State University Handicap, and the school's athletic director, Brian Faison, presented a trophy to the winning owners.