04/05/2006 11:00PM

Class edge to Mr. Trieste


Mr. Trieste has lost just once over the last 19 months and 10 races. He ran fifth that day, Jan. 7, in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap at Louisiana Downs to Brass Hat, who came back to win the Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream and then ran second in the $6 million Dubai World Cup.

Mr. Trieste meets no one like that on Saturday at Sunland Park, taking on seven other 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles in the $100,000 Sunland Park Handicap.

Mr. Trieste, 5, has been a win machine, with 11 victories in 20 starts and earnings of $365,780. Owned by Richard Lueck and trained by Gary Cross, Mr. Trieste was freshened for a couple months after the New Orleans Handicap and resurfaced here March 19 for an allowance race, which he won going away. As the even-money favorite that day, he beat Go Kitty Go and Spanish Highway, two of the foes he meets again Saturday. Mr. Trieste, the 123-pound highweight, will be ridden by Ken Tohill.

Last weekend, Southern Californians rode in and took home the big money in the WinStar Derby and Sunland Park Oaks. Easy Million attempts to do the same. Easy Million, 6, owned by Michael Malouff Jr. and trained by Bob Hess Jr., has been a rugged campaigner in both northern and Southern California, winning 8 of 34 starts and more than $260,000. He rallied to beat Primerica in a $50,000 claimer at Santa Anita on Jan. 29, then lost by a half-length to that same foe in a similar spot there March 1. Mick Ruis comes in to ride Easy Million, a strong closer.

Spanish Highway has blossomed in recent months. After a pair of seconds in allowance races at Sunland earlier this winter, he ran off two smashing victories against allowance foes, first sprinting Feb. 5 and the second going a mile March 4. Five days later, Spanish Highway dueled early in another allowance race, at 1 1/16 miles, but was unable to fend off Mr. Trieste and late-running Go Kitty Go. Casey Lambert rides Spanish Highway for trainer Bill Tollett.

El Batallon comes here razor sharp for trainer Steve Asmussen, and has won twice here this meet. He has been freshened since his last win Feb. 21, but has strong works since, including two bullets, and retains the services of Brian Peck, who was up for the last two victories.

Turf Paradise

Saturday's $35,000 Arizona Stallion Stakes at Turf Paradise is a new game for most in the field - racing on turf. It also presents a problem for handicappers, as seven of the 10 entrants are maidens. The Arizona Stallion, for 3-year-olds sired by an Arizona stallion, is at 7 1/2 furlongs on the grass and only four of the entrants have raced on turf.

Rebuck faded to fifth in his only turf start yet might be favored, based on the speed he showed that day and some proven form against winners. Trained by Glen Wasson, Rebuck was third in an allowance sprint on dirt here Jan. 18, but his form hasn't been as sharp since. In his turf race, Feb. 18 in a nonwinners-of-two allowance, he maintained a lead to the eighth pole before tiring in the final furlong behind stakes types Mr Playwright and Greasewood Flats.

If rider Steve Gomez can get Rebuck to slow down a bit early and save something, Rebuck may carry his speed all the way.

Desert Glory has never been on turf, but he does have one advantage over many of the others - he is a three-time winner. Trained by Larry Wells, Desert Glory comes off a second in a dirt sprint at Turf Paradise Feb. 20. He has ample speed and has beaten Rebuck a few times in the past while sprinting on dirt. Carl Williams rides.

Sir Chester is a maiden, but he has the best turf form in the field. He has been second and third here this meet on the grass. He was no factor here March 25 but was fractious in the gate and blew the start.

Scott Stevens rides Sir Chester, who is by multiple Turf Paradise turf stakes winner Big Sky Chester.