01/21/2002 12:00AM

Sunland: Star Smasher wins


SUNLAND PARK, N.M. - The $103,600 Pepsi-Cola Handicap at Sunland Park, a six-furlong race for New Mexico-bred 3-year-olds, was billed as a showdown between established stakes winner Star Smasher and the lightly raced Urlacher, and turning for home it appeared that was exactly what would take shape.

Urlacher, who had been dueling four wide on the lead from the outset through a half in 44.89 seconds, had a head in front while Star Smasher was forced to come around him five wide.

But once the field straightened out in the lane, it quickly became apparent that Urlacher had been done in by his early efforts and was beginning to tire, while the more experienced Star Smasher was just starting to roll. Star Smasher won the race by 2 1/2 lengths in 1:09.56.

Ninety Nine Jack finished second to Star Smasher for the second consecutive race, while Bulletman Jack held on for third. Urlacher finished sixth, beaten almost nine lengths.

The win was the biggest of Star Smasher's career, as he earned $62,160, pushing his total winnings past $155,000 for his owners, the Crew of Brew, and trainer Johnie Jamison.

Star Smasher improved his lifetime record to 9-5-2-0 with regular jockey Miguel Fuentes aboard for a $5 payoff.