02/19/2003 12:00AM

Sunland Park track report


SUNLAND PARK, N.M. - Trainer Todd Fincher has done an excellent job of running his horses in the right spots at this meet and the result has been 14 wins from his 36 starters, a remarkable 38-percent win average.

Fincher, 31, is the son of trainer Leroy Fincher and was a jockey for 10 years before making the switch to training in 1998. He has steadily put together a high-quality stable that now includes the multiple stakes winning filly Devious Ways, and Pacer, who set the track record for six furlongs going 1:08.20 on Jan. 7. Fincher, who is tied for third in the trainer standings, exercises his own stock and even ponies his horses to the gate.

* Ramon Gonzalez is once again dominating at this meet and leads the standings. Gonzalez, a master of the claiming game, has sent 164 horses to the post and won 32 races. Henry Dominguez is second with 19 wins, while Joel Marr is in a tie for third with Fincher.

* Track records are becoming a ho-hum occurrence at this meet. With records at every distance from five furlongs to 1 1/16 miles having already been equaled or broken, it is time to start over again. In Sunday's feature, a classified allowance race at one mile, Caliban set a new track record only two weeks after Mecke Monster had tied the existing mark of 135.60.

Reflecting Colors, who had been beaten a neck in Pacer's track-record-setting six-furlong race, set torrid early fractions while jockey Daryl Montoya tried in vain to get him to relax. This set the race up for Caliban, who came along to pick up the win in 1:35.42 and returned $39.20 under Jimmy Coates. Mecke Monster was unable to duplicate his Feb. 1 performance and finished fifth.

Caliban is owned by Michael Wilson and Nelda Whatley and trained by Archie Whatley,

* Joe Martinez, who suffered a broken collarbone on Jan. 11, got back into action this week, winning with his third mount back in Tuesday's eighth race. Martinez, 41, guided Appealingly Bold ($35.20) to a win for trainer Cecil Crabtree and owner Harvey Caughey.

* Sunland, in the midst of a breakout season in the competitive simulcast market, topped the $1.5 million handle mark for the first time in track history Tuesday, with $1,530,964 coming in from all sources.