03/08/2012 4:23PM

Sunland: Short sprint specialist Thenew Normal at favorite distance for Mt. Cristo Rey


Thenew Normal, who has never been beaten at 4 1/2 furlongs, will put his streak at the distance on the line Saturday in the $100,000 Mt. Cristo Rey Handicap at Sunland Park. The race for 3-year-olds and up is restricted to horses bred in New Mexico.

Thenew Normal has made three starts at 4 1/2 furlongs, winning the $50,000 Road Runner Handicap at the distance at Ruidoso Downs last July, as well as two allowances at the trip at SunRay Park last April and May.

The Mt. Cristo will be his first start since July 31, and in his final prep for his return he worked a half-mile in a sharp 47.60 seconds. Trainer Martin Weston, who wins at an above-average rate with his comebackers, has given the mount to Alfredo Juarez Jr. Thenew Normal, who is a 4-year-old gelding by Avenue of Flags, races for his breeder, Ray Simpson.

The chief threat could be Our Choice, a winner of his last two starts, including an optional-claiming stakes over 5 1/2 furlongs for which he earned a career-high Beyer Figure of 91.