12/28/2001 1:00AM

Two-pronged threat from Leach's barn


SUNLAND PARK, N.M. - Trainer William Leach and owner William L. Clifton Jr. hold a strong hand in Sunday's $150,563 Riley Allison Futurity at Sunland Park.

The 6 1/2-furlong race drew a field of 10 2-year-olds, each of whom made the cut in two qualifying races here Dec. 14. Both trials were won convincingly by Leach and Clifton's horses, Engraved and Premeditation. The pair will be coupled in the wagering.

The Riley Allison was originally a $45,000-added race but was bumped to $100,000-added after Sunland Park received approval to increase its number of slot machines in November. According to the conditions of the race, the winner will receive an automatic berth in the 2002 Lone Star Derby on May 11.

Coming into the trials, Premeditation was a known commodity with wins at Lone Star and Retama and a stakes placing at Retama. His final time of 1:15.83 was a half-second faster than Engraved's 1:16.33, though Premeditation was under a drive to keep his rivals at bay. Engraved came into the trial with only one prior start, a disappointing seventh at Lone Star in May, a race from which he emerged with an ankle chip that required surgery.

Engraved's win was highly impressive. Going straight to the lead with jockey Brian Theriot never asking him for speed, Engraved set fractions of 21.88 and 44.51 seconds without ever being challenged.

Leach said he feels the draw set up perfectly for his horses. "With Engraved's speed he can go right to the front from the three hole and Premeditation can stalk him from just to the outside."

The Steve Asmussen-trained Interminable Gold had a terrible trip in Premeditation's trial and figures to rebound. Interminable Gold, who won his maiden against special weight company at Keeneland, broke awkwardly in his trial, was forced wide into the stretch, and was beaten nearly eight lengths at 6-5. Interminable Gold has not shown much early speed but does have the class to be close at the finish of the Riler Allison.

The field, from the rail out, consists of Miss Hadley (Nicky Madrid to ride), Pacer (Travis Wales), Engraved (Theriot), Mon Ouimet (Juan Padilla), Interminable Gold (Luis Quinonez), Army General (Perry Whetstone), Premed-itation (Mike Clark), Johns Hot Water (Daryl Montoya), Steves Eldorado (Alfonso Fuentes), and Mr Motion (Joe Martinez).