04/27/2005 11:00PM

Breeders' Day pits top local sprinters


PHOENIX - Local products will be given a chance to shine Saturday, when Arizona Thoroughbred Breeders' Day is run at Turf Paradise. A total of 118 statebreds were entered for Saturday, and they will compete for $266,000 in purses spread out over 12 races. The number of horses and purse money are a record for an Arizona Breeders' Day. Five of the 12 races are stakes, four of which are worth $40,000 and one, the Arizona Breeders' Derby, worth $25,000.

Perhaps the best race on the card is the $40,000 Grand Canyon Handicap, a six-furlong race that has attracted some of the top sprinters on the grounds. Grimm looms a heavy favorite, though he will carry high weight of 125 pounds, giving from three to 11 pounds to his seven foes.

The Grand Canyon is carded as the seventh race on the program.

A 6-year-old, Grimm has had a terrific meet, winning three stakes. He won the Cactus Wren over Arizona-bred sprinters here Jan. 1, then came back to beat a classy field in the Cotton Fitzsimmons Handicap here just seven days later at a mile on the turf. After a couple of months off, Grimm returned here April 16 and won the G.W. Johnson Stakes. That race was at 4 1/2 furlongs on the turf, highlighting his versatility.

Trained by Eric Kruljac, Grimm has won 10 of 18 overall for earnings of over $204,000. Regular rider Scott Stevens has the call.

Grimm must face Komax, who was second in this race last year. He then shipped to Southern California and finished fourth three straight times. Komax has not raced since rallying to be fourth in a $32,000 claimer July 22 at Del Mar. He was claimed by trainer Kevin Eikleberry out of that race.

Komax, 7, has been working in steady fashion, primarily at Sunland Park in New Mexico. He has a record of 4 for 7 at Turf Paradise. Leslie Mawing rides Komax at 122 pounds.

A potential upsetter is King Justin. Trained by Ralph Andersen, King Justin comes off a five-length win over $20,000 claimers. His Beyer Speed Figure from that race, a 103, is easily the best in the field.