01/14/2010 12:00AM

Bingham targeting a repeat in Fitzsimmons


A win in last year's Cotton Fitzsimmons Mile Handicap propelled Bingham to the top of the heap among middle-distance horses at Turf Paradise. But it won't be easy for Bingham to successfully defend his title in Saturday's $75,000 renewal at the Phoenix track.

A field of 11 is entered in the mile grass event, named for the longtime Phoenix Suns coach and executive who was a fixture in the turf club here for years until his death in 2004. Southern California raiders Feisty Suances and Icemancometh, Northern California shipper Yacht Spotter, and local stalwart Mutak Gold pose significant hurdles to Bingham.

The Fitzsimmons goes as race 8 on a nine-race program that also features the $50,000 Glendale Handicap.

Bingham, a 5-year-old owned by Dennis Weir and trained by Kevin Lewis, came into his own in 2008, winning 5 of 10. He began 2009 with a romping three-length win in this race a year ago, parlayed that into a win in the Turf Paradise a month later, and seemed on his way. He didn't run badly afterward, but suddenly wins were tough to come by. He finished second and third in a couple stakes, got a six-month break in the middle of the year, and came back to lose twice to Mutak Gold.

Bingham ended the year with a 9 1/4-length allowance romp on the main track here Nov. 27 and a fifth-place finish as the 4-5 favorite in the Dec. 12 Hank Mills Sr. He worked a bullet four furlongs in 46.80 seconds here Jan. 11 to hint that he's doing well. As usual, Glenn Corbett has the ride.

Feisty Suances is winless in two turf tries, but his efforts on grass still make him a threat. Trained by Darrell Vienna, Feisty Suances was second, beaten a nose, in the Jack Coady Sr. on the turf here Nov. 14, then third, beaten a neck, in the one-mile Contested Bid on the Hollywood Park grass Dec. 5. David Flores comes in to keep the ride.

Icemancometh won three in a row on the grass during the fall, then finished sixth in an optional claimer in November on the Hollywood turf. Trainer John Sadler dropped him in for $25,000 at Hollywood last month, and he ran second and was claimed by owner-trainer Leonard Espinoza.

* Dextera and Star of Whitney lead a field of nine fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on the turf in the Glendale Handicap. Dextera shipped here from her Southern California base to win the Chandler Handicap on Nov. 14 and comes off a sixth, beaten just 1 3/4 lengths in Hollywood's Starine for trainer James Cassidy.

Star of Whitney has been the best turf female on this circuit the past couple seasons. She's won 12 of 33 and was second in this race last year. Trained by Dennis Sowers, Star of Whitney hasn't run since finishing second in the Queen of the Green here Oct. 24.