03/11/2009 11:00PM

Briecat the clear class of Mesa


PHOENIX - A stakes tripleheader that includes a top mare from Southern California and the top local 3-year-old male highlights Saturday's Turf Paradise program. Briecat, a Grade 2 winner and Grade 1 battle-tested in Southern California, looms an overwhelming favorite for the $50,000 Mesa Handicap. That 6 1/2-furlong event (race 5) drew a field of seven fillies and mares.

Hidden Bounty, the top locally based 3-year-old, tries turf for the first time in the $50,000 Tempe Handicap (race 8) against nine others. Prior to those two events, eight 3-year-old fillies are set to battle in the $50,000 Scottsdale Handicap (race 4) at a mile on the turf.

Briecat figures a prohibitive favorite in the Mesa, despite her 125-pound impost. A 4-year-old filly owned by David and Holly Wilson and trained by Vladimir Cerin, Briecat won the Grade 2 Bayakoa Handicap at Hollywood Park Dec. 7. She then set the pace in the Grade 1 Santa Maria Handicap at Santa Anita Feb. 14 before faltering to seventh. She's run first and second in her two starts at Turf Paradise, capturing the Arizona Oaks 13 months ago, and running second, beaten a nose, in the Sun Devil here Oct. 4. She was beaten in that sprint by Malia Sofia, a rival again here.

Malia Sofia hasn't been as sharp since, so Briecat's main opposition figures to come from Shesa Private I, a winner of 10 of 27, including multiple sprint stakes here. She returns from a dull sixth in a sprint stakes at Sunland Dec. 28. Born With Eagles has won 6 of 12, including her last three in a row, the last two of which were stakes.

* Hidden Bounty comes into the Tempe off victories here in the Lost in the Fog Juvenile Dec. 27 and Rattlesnake Jan. 31. Trained by Bart Hone, he then finished second behind talented Southern California raider Mayor Marv in the Feb. 21 Turf Paradise Derby.

Hidden Bounty worked over the turf course here March 9, going five furlongs in 1:04.20.

His main opposition may come from One Call and Frisky Ricky, both smart turf winners here last month.

* Woody's Bluff, trained by Dennis Sowers, may be the girl to beat in the Scottsdale. She romped in her only turf start, a maiden win here Jan. 25, before finishing fourth behind the unbeaten filly Carlsbad in the Arizona Oaks on the main track here Feb. 21.

Abuelita Jenny A is unbeaten in two starts, her last coming on the turf; Fancy Free Kelli invades from Golden Gate having won her only turf try; Dash Dot Dash hasn't run since winning two stakes at Fairplex last September; and Scilly moves to turf off victories on dirt here by 10 1/4 lengths Feb. 6 and 7 1/2 lengths Feb. 20.