02/01/2007 1:00AM

Diligent Prospect sharp for G Malleah


PHOENIX - When he burst on the scene as a 2-year-old in Southern California back in 2004, Diligent Prospect looked like a potential player on the Derby trail. While injury took away much of his 2005 season, Diligent Prospect has managed to find his calling the past year: becoming a quality sprinter. He takes that reputation into Saturday's $45,000 G Malleah Handicap at Turf Paradise. The six-furlong event, which honors the world-record holder for the distance, lured a field of eight.

Diligent Prospect failed twice against graded stakes company in late 2005, then came here for the January 2006 Swift Stakes. He dueled for the early lead and drew off to win by 4 3/4 lengths, leaving some of the best sprinters in this area in his wake. His Beyer Speed Figure was a strong 99.

Diligent Prospect went to Sunland for the Bill Thomas Memorial in March, but faltered to fourth after dueling for the early lead. He went to the bench yet again and didn't reappear until the KLAQ Handicap Dec. 16 at Sunland. It was worth the wait. He went nearly wire to wire to win that race by 2 1/2 lengths, and came right back to win a tough optional claimer there on Jan. 2. A 5-year-old son of Diligence owned by Ron Whited and trained by David Tollett, Diligent Prospect carries high weight of 122 pounds and rider Francisco Duran.

His main challenges figure to come from Family Guy and Snowbound Halo. Family Guy, trained by Eric Kruljac, has won two in a row here in impressive fashion. He went wire to wire to win an allowance race here Dec. 23 and then rallied from far back to win the Swift here Jan. 6. Leslie Mawing rides at 121 pounds.

Snowbound Halo rattled off three straight impressive wins to start his career. But he then had a troubled start in the Swift and faltered to fifth after getting caught in a speed duel, finishing four lengths behind the victorious Family Guy. Regular rider Jocelyne Kenny is up again at 115 pounds.