05/15/2003 11:00PM

All the Boys ships in for Hasta La Vista


PHOENIX - When they bring down the curtain on a Turf Paradise meet, it usually takes a while.

That's because the highlight of Sunday's closing-day program is a marathon: the 15-furlong, aptly named Hasta La Vista Handicap. It is a turf race for 3-year-olds and up worth $50,000.

It is one of three stakes that highlight the 10-race closing-day card. Also on tap are the $25,000 ATBA Spring Sales Stakes for Arizona-bred 2-year-olds at five furlongs, and the $25,000 Arizona Stallion Stakes at 7 1/2 furlongs on the turf.

In the Hasta La Vista, Southern California shipper All the Boys will be a heavy favorite in the field of 11. Trained by Paul Aguirre, All the Boys finished second in his last race, the Grade 1, 14-furlong San Juan Capistrano Handicap at Santa Anita, beaten by only a half-length. He appears to have a significant class edge, but prior to his big San Juan run he was facing high-priced claimers - so maybe his edge isn't all that it seems.

All the Boys will carry Iggy Puglisi at 124 pounds, giving his rivals from 7 to 17 pounds.

A number of Southern California runners have shipped to Phoenix and failed to fire. If All the Boys meets a similar fate, second highweight Pittsburgh Star may be the prime beneficiary.

He comes off a second to Free Corona, the horse of the meet, in the 11-furlong Wildcat Handicap. Unlike the favorite, Pittsburgh Star is proven over the course here, having won 3 of 4 starts on it, with his only loss in the Wildcat. Pittsburgh Star, trained by Scott Russo, has won 5 of his last 7, and it was just back in November when Russo claimed him for a mere $6,250. He appears to have made a good purchase. Alberto Higuera will ride at 117 pounds.

One possible upsetter is the 8-year-old Jestakick, who used to run with the best on the grounds. Trained by Michael Lenzini, Jestakick may not be what he was, but he at least is proven at this trip, having run second in the Hasta La Vista a couple of years ago.

Jockey title down to the wire

Dennis Weir has clinched his 11th title as leading owner at the meet and Don Mills will repeat as leading trainer, but top jockey honors will play out on closing day.

Seth Martinez, last year's leading rider, has a two-win lead (143-141) over Steve Gomez going into the final weekend.

Equine divisional honors go to: 2-/3-year-old filly, First Snowbound; 2-/3-year-old male, Siberland; 3-/4-year-old filly, Aspen Hill; 3-/4-year-old male, Grimm; older mare and Arizona-bred, Knoll Lake; claimer, Play Good; sprinter, Giovannetti; turf horse and horse of the meet, Free Corona.

There will be full-card simulcasting at Turf Paradise seven days a week, from May 19 through Sept. 25. Gates will open at 9 a.m. daily. The 2003-04 meet opens Sept. 26.