05/04/2005 11:00PM

Back on turf, Pleasant Gulch could surprise


Pleasant Gulch figures to be a longshot in Saturday's $40,000 Desert Sky Handicap at Turf Paradise. But don't let that fool you, because Pleasant Gulch may well be poised for a big effort.

A one-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies, the Desert Sky has lured a field of nine.

The operative word for Pleasant Gulch is "turf." Pleasant Gulch has had mixed results since shipping here from Arapahoe last fall. One of her bright moments came in her only turf try, which came on this course at a mile on March 19. Pleasant Gulch Sat well back early and then charged home at 26-1 to finish second. Most importantly, the only horse in the race she did not beat that day was Muir Beach, the best distaffer on the grounds, a winner of four stakes this meet, and a shoo-in to be named horse of the meet. The filly Pleasant Gulch beat for second, Pc Symbol, won her next start.

Trained by Justin Evans, Pleasant Gulch came back in the April 16 Cactus Flower here at six furlongs on the dirt and finished fourth behind a couple of Saturday's foes. But the Desert Sky is on turf and it's a longer race, so Pleasant Gulch may be poised for the upset. She carries 119 pounds, including leading rider Wilson Dieguez.

Coke's Melody is the 121-pound highweight. A 4-year-old filly trained by Eric Kruljac, Coke's Melody was third in the Cactus Flower, but that was her first start since November, so she is eligible to improve. Coke's Melody has yet to win in three turf starts, but she finished third in the 7 1/2-furlong Chandler to none other than Muir Beach on this course Nov. 19. Jorge Carreno rides.

V'ville Lady has been dynamite over this course. She is 8 for 15 overall, including four straight wins on this course in the fall-winter meet. In the winter, V'ville Lady finished third in the Glendale Handicap and fourth in the Sun City Handicap, then tried two claiming races in Southern California. She finished fourth at 6 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita on April 8 and fifth, beaten two lengths, in a 1 1/16-mile race at Hollywood three weeks later.

V'ville Lady returns to the course she loves and looks like a huge threat under 120 pounds. Like Coke's Melody, she is trained by Kruljac. Daniel Vergara rides.