Updated on 09/16/2011 6:41AM

Urlacher moves up to stakes in Pepsi


SUNLAND PARK, N.M. - Sunday's $100,000-added Pepsi Cola Handicap at Sunland Park, a six-furlong race restricted to New Mexico-bred 3-year-olds, shapes up as a showdown between the multiple stakes winning Star Smasher and the upstart Urlacher.

The 11-horse field includes two couplings, one of which is a three-horse entry from the barn of trainer Cliff Lambert Sr.

Star Smasher, owned by the Crew of Brew and trained by Johnnie Jamison, who are also the connections of the defending Sunland handicap champ, Brew, will be favored off his two recent stakes wins in similar company and his career earnings of more than $93,000. Another factor that makes Star Smasher attractive is his ability to either set the pace or stalk it, giving jockey Miguel Fuentes options depending how the race shapes up.

Urlacher, named after former New Mexico Lobos and current Chicago Bears football star Brian Urlacher, has shown great promise for owners Joe and Sharon Allen, winning his only two career starts with ease. The question Urlacher must answer is if he can handle the jump from allowance to stakes company.

"We'll find out what he's made of against this bunch," said his trainer, Joel Marr. In addition to Urlacher, Marr will start a coupled entry of Jacks Romeo and Bulletman Jack, both weighted at 120 pounds, two below Star Smasher and two above Urlacher. A win from either half of Marr's entry would be no surprise.

The field from the rail out is made up of of Milagro Del Paso (Mike Clark the rider), Jacks Romeo (Travis Wales), stakes winner How Bout Now (James Gonzales II), Bulletman Jack (Manuel Ortiz), Trixie's Chokem (Alfredo Jaurez Jr.), Star Smasher (Miguel Fuentes), Ninety Nine Jack (Joe Martinez), Rally Mode (Fernando Gamez), Urlacher (Brian Theriot), Giddy Up Bullseye (David Lidberg), and B. G. Tiger (Perry Whetstone).

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