12/05/2002 12:00AM

Sunland Park track report


Sunland Park, N.M. - Saturday's $50,000-added Sunland Park Yuletide Derby at 6 1/2 furlongs would have a well-balanced field if not for one horse, multiple stakes winner Premeditation.

Owned by William Clifton Jr. and trained by Bill Leach, Premeditation sports a 8-2-1-1 record and $161,557 in earnings on the year, including victories here this spring in the Borderland Derby and at Lone Star in the $100,000 Alysheba Breeder's Cup. Cementing his role of favorite is that he will be ridden by leading jockey Garrett Gomez.

Premeditation does have two possible weaknesses in that he enters the race after a two-month layoff and his last several races have been routes.

The bettor's challenge will be to find a possible upsetter. Pacer finished a close fourth here against older sprinters in the KLAQ Handicap on Nov. 23 and has a stalking style that should prove effective against this field. Pacer was coming off a two-month rest in that race, and trainer Todd Fincher, who has given the call to hot rider Ricardo Jaime, has every right to believe his horse will be in the hunt this time against fellow 3-year-olds.

Lou's Expectation spent the summer in Southern California and held his own against the tough competition on that circuit. Last time out he won the Paradise Valley Handicap at Turf Paradise in near wire-to-wire fashion going 7 1/2 furlongs on the turf, and he could be a bit of an overlay. Daryl Montoya rides for trainer Jeff Mullins.