11/23/2006 12:00AM

The Five J's has faced tougher

Email

The Five J's has been competitive with some of the best turf 3-year-olds in Southern California, and that likely will make him the favorite in Saturday's $40,000 Paradise Valley Stakes at Turf Paradise. A 7 1/2-furlong grass race for 3-year-olds, the Paradise Valley lured a full field of 10 and two also-eligibles.

The Five J's, trained by Steve Knapp, was a close fourth in the Grade 3 Cinema Handicap at Hollywood Park in June and dueled for the lead before tiring to sixth in the Grade 2 La Jolla Handicap at Del Mar on Aug. 12. A. P. Warrior won that race, and Porto Santo and Get Funky, who finished second and third, came back to run second and first in the Grade 1 Del Mar Derby.

The Five J's comes into this off a second against $80,000 claimers at Hollywood Park on Nov. 9. Scott Stevens rides from the rail.

Mr. Playwright comes off a second against older horses in a one-mile optional claimer at Turf Paradise on Oct. 29. Trained by Manuel Uriza, he won on this course at this distance back in February. Miguel Hernandez rides.

Sans Serif may well have turned the corner of late, coinciding with a move to the Turf Paradise turf course. He rallied furiously to be second in the Tempe Handicap on the course last March, but then saw his form decline as he shipped to Lone Star Park in Texas and Canterbury Park in Minnesota.

Trained by Troy Bainum, Sans Serif came back to Turf Paradise on Oct. 9 and promptly beat claimers on this course at this distance, and last out rallied strongly to be second in an allowance race at a mile on the Turf Paradise grass Oct. 23, just failing to catch Buzz the Tower. Chris Landeros rides.

Buzz the Tower is an also-eligible here and would merit respect if he goes. He posted two big victories on the Turf Paradise turf in October, one at this distance and the other at a mile. Last time, in the 1 1/8-mile Black Bart Handicap, he battled for the lead in the lane and faltered late. This shorter trip figures a better fit for him.