01/09/2002 12:00AM

Urlacher is NFL and Sunland star


Urlacher has made a strong impression on horsemen at Sunland Park, winning both his career starts at this meet with ease against fellow New Mexico-breds.

In last Saturday's seventh race, he won a nonwinners-of-two-lifetime allowance race, covering six furlongs in 1:10.89 under jockey Brian Theriot.

Trainer Joel Marr will now point Urlacher for the $100,000-added Pepsi-Cola Handicap on Jan. 20, a state bred sprint for 3-year-olds.

Urlacher is named for the Chicago Bears' star linebacker Brian Urlacher. Long-time breeder Thomas Pierce of Albuquerque, N.M., is also an avid fan of the University of New Mexico Lobos, where Brian Urlacher attended college. Pierce explained how the football connection led him to name the colt.

"My wife, Prudy, and I are both U. of New Mexico grads and big fans of the Lobos," Pierce said. "Brian was our favorite player and when we came across this yearling who was big, muscular, and built like a linebacker, it was natural that Urlacher come to mind."

* After 29 days of racing Sunland has a very contentious jockeys' race that may not sort itself out until the end of the meet in early April. Nena Matz, a newcomer from Remington Park, is tied with reigning Sunland champ Daryl Montoya at 16 wins each. The key here is Matz has only 63 mounts to Montoya's 119. A. J. Martinez is right behind with 14 wins from 89 mounts.

Miguel Fuentes and Travis Wales are tied for fourth and right in the thick of the race with 12 wins each.