02/05/2004 1:00AM

Sunland: Curribot is anyone's race


SUNLAND PARK, N. M. - The breakdown of This Cat's for You in the Jan. 10 Winsham Lad Handicap left a gaping hole in the older male division here, and that absence is reflected in the wide-open look of the field for Saturday's $50,000-added Curribot Handicap at 1 1/16 miles.

The ever-present stable of Steve Asmussen will be represented by Tempered Appeal, a 7-year-old who raced primarily at Woodbine in 2003.

Tempered Appeal had two wins from 11 starts and $142,546 in earnings last year. He tailed off in his last two efforts of 2003, and finished sixth in his last race of the year, Oct. 29, in a $100,000 optional claimer.

Given a freshening and sent to Asmussen's barn at Fair Grounds, Tempered Appeal finished third in his first race of 2004 on Jan. 15 in a $62,500 optional claimer. Tempered Appeal arrived at Sunland this week and breezed a half-mile in 48.60 seconds on Wednesday for Tony Mathiasen, an Asmussen assistant.

Tempered Appeal is the highweight at 119 pounds with Casey Lambert to ride. Although Asmussen leads the nation's trainers in wins and earnings, he is winless in eight stakes attempts at this meet.

Streak of Royalty inherited the lead from This Cat's for You in the Winsham Lad and held on to win over Komax at 20-1, giving rookie trainer Victor Quintanilla his first career win. A 5-year-old owned and bred by Gary Clements, Streak of Royalty has made all 10 of his starts at Sunland, and he won five of them, with the Winsham Lad being his first stakes. Streak of Royalty will carry 118 pounds under Ricardo Jaime.

Owner-trainer-breeder Bart Evans holds a possible upset card in Wishingitwas. Laid off after winning a turf stakes at Remington on Oct. 18, Wishingitwas made his return in the Winsham Lad and challenged for the lead on the far turn before coming up a bit short in the stretch, beaten less than five lengths in fifth. Assigned 117 pounds for the Curribot, Wishingitwas is in position to upset with a race now under his belt. Russell Brown has the call.