02/09/2006 12:00AM

Two invaders look best at Sunland


Two horses new to Sunland Park appear in position to control Saturday's $50,000 El Paso Times Handicap. A 6 1/2-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies, the El Paso Times has attracted a field of seven, with invaders Shimmering Sunset and Great Actress likely to vie for favoritism.

Shimmering Sunset comes in for the ever-dangerous Steven Asmussen barn. She began her career with a 9 3/4-length victory at Arlington last summer. She then faded badly to finish ninth in an allowance race at Keeneland, took two months off, and resurfaced with a half-length allowance win at the Fair Grounds meet at Louisiana Downs on Dec. 2.

Wheeled back in the Dixie Belle at Oaklawn Park on Jan. 29, Shimmering Sunset stalked the pace but came up empty in the drive, fading to finish seventh of nine in the race. She faces easier competition here and is the one to beat as the 119-pound highweight. Brian Peck rides.

Great Actress will be making her first start for trainer Chris Hartman. She has made all 10 of her starts at Calder Race Course in Florida, including a smart maiden win sprinting there in the summer and a win over restricted claimers routing on Dec. 1. She most recently was no factor while trying turf for the first time on Dec. 23. She moves back to dirt, which should help, and has two nice recent works over the Sunland track. Alfredo Juarez Jr. rides at 118 pounds.

Local hopes ride on the emerging filly Dust Strip. She showed enough ability early in her career last summer to warrant a couple of stakes tries at Sunland. After Dust Strip failed to win in those spots, trainer Dooley Guinn moved her back to the maiden ranks here Jan. 3, and she responded with a wire-to-wire romp by seven lengths. That might be a sign she has turned the corner and is ready to step up in class. Mike Ziegler rides at 116 pounds.