02/22/2007 12:00AM

Frankel shipper owns back class


PHOENIX - Trainer Bobby Frankel holds a strong hand with Heroi Do Bafra in Saturday's $75,000 Turf Paradise Handicap. A Brazilian import, Heroi Do Bafra has shown promise in two Southern California starts, and will face 11 others, including fellow Southern California invaders Cervelo and Wild Buddy, in the 1 1/16-mile turf race.

The program also features the $100,000 Phoenix Gold Cup and the $50,000 Sun City Handicap.

Heroi Do Bafra won two Group 1 races on the turf last spring in Brazil. In his first start in the U.S. and for Frankel, he finished second in an allowance race on the turf at Santa Anita on Jan. 1. He came back to be fourth in the Grade 2 San Marcos there Jan. 21, a race that likely stamps him the horse to beat here.

Cervelo won two allowance races impressively in Southern California this winter before finishing fourth in the Thunder Road at Santa Anita on Feb. 3 behind Grade 1 winner Sweet Return. Wild Buddy has been rubbing elbows with some of the best turf horses in the nation, having chased the likes of Lava Man, Aragorn, T. H. Approval, and King's Drama the past year. He has plenty of speed and figures to be part of the pace picture.

Capitano, who won this race last year, also has faced top competition in Southern California, though his form of late hasn't been so sharp. He comes off sevenths at Santa Anita in the Grade 2 San Gabriel and the Thunder Road.

Wait in Line, second in the Cotton Fitzsimmons here Jan. 6, a prep for this race, may be the best of the local set. He's winless in three turf tries but has certainly run well on the surface, finishing second twice and third the other time. One of those seconds came in the USA Stakes at Lone Star last May.

Sun City: Cal invaders formidable

It's the same theme in the Sun City Handicap. Southern Californian shippers lead a field of 10 fillies and mares in the mile turf race.

Shermeen was recently third in a strong allowance turf sprint at Santa Anita, her first start in eight months. She was Grade 3-placed at this distance last year at Hollywood Park. Big Promise was a close fourth in the 1 1/4-mile La Zanzara at Santa Anita on Feb. 1.

Haka Girl may have turned the corner. She won a main-track allowance race here less than two weeks ago ago by 16 lengths and has proven turf form.

Shadowy Waters was second in this race last year. She comes off a fourth as the favorite in a dirt route here Feb. 10 and may appreciate the move back to turf.