04/06/2004 11:00PM

Sunland Park track report


SUNLAND PARK, N.M. - A major highlight of the 2003-04 meet here has been the jockey race between Casey Lambert and Ken Tohill. With three days left, Lambert holds a 67-64 edge.

The numbers tell only part of the story, however. The two jockeys contrast greatly in style. Lambert is an outstanding athlete who rides in an aggressive fashion, while Tohill is a wait-and-see type who takes things as they come. In short, Lambert makes things happen while Tohill makes the best of what happens, and those differences add to the excitement of the race. Obviously, some fans and horsemen are going to like Lambert better, while others prefer Tohill, and there is not much middle ground.

Lambert, 38, grew up in El Paso and is the son of longtime trainer Cliff Lambert Sr. He won his first title here in 1984 at age 19 before moving on to the larger tracks in the Midwest. He and his agent, childhood friend Dominic Rivera, plan to go to Lone Star at the conclusion of this meet.

"I worked in the racing office there in 2000, so I know the people there, and Casey has ridden there several years," Rivera said. "We aren't going with expectations of riding for any one stable but have commitments from several different trainers, and we feel very good about our chances."

Tohill, a 41-year-old native Californian, moved to New Mexico about this time last year, and with his acceptance on the circuit feels he has found a home.

"I don't have plans to move back to California any time soon," he said. "I can tell you that. I have really grown to love it here."

* Sunland publicity director Eric Alwan has accepted the announcer's job at the Downs at Albuquerque meet, which begins on Friday and runs through July 5.