01/08/2003 1:00AM

Sunland hikes purses 15%

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SUNLAND PARK, N.M. - With Sunland Park's 750 slot machines going full-tilt, Purses have been increased 15 percent, which will bring the daily purse distribution to $230,000. The increase means that $4,000 claimers will be running for a purse of $9,300, maiden specials will compete for $17,400, and open allowance races will offer purses of $33,100.

New York City Off-Track Betting began taking Sunland's signal on Tuesdays last month, and the impact has been significant. This past Tuesday, Sunland had a record all-sources handle of $1,296,039, with $195,419 coming from New York City OTB.

Jockey race gets interesting

When leading jockey Garrett Gomez stopped riding here last month, a scramble to pick up his mounts developed. Last week Ricardo Jaime moved to within one win of Gomez's 23 victories, but he has been shut out in the three race cards since. Meanwhile, Jorge Bourdieu has posted consecutive triples and now is in third with 17 wins. Bourdieu came to this circuit last year, and he caught on late in the meet and finished with a rush to be second in the final standings.

On Tuesday, Bourdieu had won three straight going into the featured 10th race, which turned out to be one of the more exciting races of the season.

Reflecting Colors, the prohibitive favorite ridden by Bourdieu, went right to the lead, setting fractions of 21.56, 43.58, and 55.86 seconds. But in midstretch he looked like a leg-weary horse as Pacer, who had stalked Reflecting Colors under Carlos Madeira, ranged up alongside.

But Reflecting Colors dug in, and the two dueled through the final furlong, with Pacer taking the advantage late and breaking the 32-year-old track record for six furlongs, stopping the timer in 1:08.36.

Pacer ($16.60) is owned by Joe Dee and Lisa Brooks and trained by Todd Fincher, son of trainer Leroy Fincher.

* Stowe Creek, a 7-year-old gelding, has had a resurgence in recent months and on Saturday won his sixth straight race. He started his streak against bottom-level claimers at SunRay Park in October and his latest win came for a $6,250 claiming price. According to his trainer, Leroy Fincher, Stowe Creek was given a much-needed break last summer and returned an improved horse.