03/12/2009 12:00AM

Wind Water can redeem himself


The focus will be on speed at Sunland Park on Saturday with the $50,000 Bill Thomas Memorial Handicap carded as the day's headliner. Seven of the region's top sprinters will go 6o1/2 furlongs in the Thomas, the afternoon's 11th race.

Stakes regular Wind Water will start as the 122-pound highweight due in part to his consistent past. A 7-year-old Bold Badgett gelding, he is an 18-time winner, including three of his four local starts. His lone defeat at Sunland came in his most recent start when he was forced to settle for third in the Budweiser Handicap in early February. That effort was Wind's Water's first of the year and came after a short freshening. He also encountered some traffic in the late going that day and was forced to alter course.

A clean trip and the benefit of a recent start make him the one to beat Saturday. Trainer Chris Hartman once again will give regular rider Ken Tohill a leg up.

Happy Humor, perfect in two starts since returning from a lengthy layoff, will return to the stakes ranks for the first time since being unplaced in the Forward Pass Stakes at Arlington Park in the summer of 2007. Trained by Jon Arnett, Happy Humor made short work of a solid group of allowance performers in his most recent start, winning by over five lengths with something left.

Happy Humor continues to train well for Arnett and appears to be the main threat to upset Wind Water. Travis Wales has the call at 118 pounds.

Also in the Thomas is Loves Bonus, who finished directly in front of Wind Water in last month's Budweiser. A front-running stakes winner at Albuquerque late last year, Loves Bonus could be in position to control the pace once again as he will break inside of his two main rivals. Ricardo Jaime will be in the saddle at 119 pounds.

* Sunday's program will feature the Mesilla Valley Speed Handicap for Quarter Horses. A field of 10 will dash 350 yards, headed by 126-pound highweight and Grade 1 winner First Moonflash.