04/26/2006 11:00PM

Five stakes for statebreds


PHOENIX - Turf Paradise celebrates the Arizona-bred on Saturday, with five stakes and two starter allowances for statebreds on the 12-race program, headed by the $50,000 Sandra Hall Grand Canyon Handicap.

Komax, one of the top horses on the grounds at age 8, leads a field of seven in the six-furlong Grand Canyon, which goes as race 4. Trained by Kevin Eikleberry, Komax has won 12 of 37 for more than $296,000. He rattled off two straight victories at Sunland Park most recently, and has a splendid 4-4-0 record in 9 starts at Turf Paradise.

Komax's main opposition figures to come from King Justin, who set a Turf Paradise track record for 4 1/2 furlongs Feb. 17 while winning an optional claimer. After that, he was second in the March 7 Petro D. Jay before dueling for the lead and faltering in the April 11 G. Malleah.

Moores Bridge also is a threat despite coming off a dull seventh in the Phoenix Gold Cup on March 18. The 5-year-old Moores Bridge hadn't run in the two months prior to that race. Moores Bridge beat Komax in the Cactus Wren last November, and all five of his victories have come at Turf Paradise.

Also on the card:

* Society Cat heads a field of seven in the six-furlong Ann Owens Distaff Handicap (race 3). A 5-year-old mare, Society Cat has been freshened for almost two months after a game victory in an optional claiming route on March 6. While her last two races have been routes, she's a proven commodity sprinting: In her nine tries at six furlongs, she has won once and been second the eight other times. She won this race last year with a strong off-the-pace move.

Lil Easy, second to Society Cat in this race last year, is back for another try and comes here riding a wave of strong form. She has been in the trifecta in nine straight races and in her last start finished second (moved to first via a disqualification) in an allowance sprint on Feb. 26.

* The $35,000 Arizona Breeders' Derby (race 9) brings out nine 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles, with Hey Slick the likely favorite. A son of Society Max, Hey Slick was third in the Arizona Juvenile sprinting and then rallied smartly to win the Rattlesnake on Jan. 22. He finished fourth behind top local 3-year-old Keagan and eventual WinStar Derby runner-up Sky Diving in the Turf Paradise Derby on Feb. 11. He has been freshened since by trainer Kory Owens, drops from facing open foes, and boasts some good works.

Corporal Tillman, coming off four straight strong races, three of which were victories, looms the main rival.

* Justafirecracker looks to get back on track in the $40,000 Dwight D. Patterson Handicap (race 10). The 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and upward lured a field of nine.

Justafirecracker rattled off three straight victories earlier this meet after invading from California. He was then eighth in a dirt stakes but bounced back to be second in an optional claimer going about a mile on turf.

Overland Road was second to Justafirecracker in an optional claimer on Feb. 18 and has had some good works since. Three of his four wins have come on Turf Paradise's grass course.

* The $40,000 Joanne Dye (race 11) matches 11 3-year-old fillies going 6 1/2 furlongs on the main track. Restride attempts to get back on track for trainer Glen Wasson. A daughter of Buckstrider, Restride won her first three races at Turf Paradise in impressive fashion last year, but since moving in against open foes hasn't been as effective. She beat a number of these last fall and winter.

* The Tom Bane, a starter allowance at six furlongs for 3-year-olds and upward, and the C.W. "Doc" Pardee, a starter allowance at a mile on the main track for fillies and mares, go as races 5 and 8.