04/03/2003 12:00AM

Hero's Pleasure relishes distance

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PHOENIX - You can make a case for most of the eight 3-year-olds in Saturday's $23,000 Chuck N Luck Stakes at Turf Paradise, but the mile distance might favor Hero's Pleasure.

Trained by Doug Oliver, Hero's Pleasure has come a long way in the last month. He rallied from well back to win a maiden sprint by a head March 7. In his first try against winners, he was asked to face stakes horses, try turf for the first time, and route for only the second time. It didn't matter. Sent off at 13-1 in the March 15 Tempe Handicap, he sat last early, then stormed home on the outside to win by a half-length, beating a number of the same foes he faces in the Chuck N Luck.

There figures to be another hot pace in the Chuck N Luck, to be run on the main track, and that should benefit Hero's Pleasure. Scott Stevens, up for those last two wins, keeps the call.

Deputy Doc, trained by Paul Treasure, finished second to Hero's Pleasure in the Tempe Handicap. He has been rock-solid, finishing in the top three in eight straight races, including four wins. All those wins came sprinting on dirt, but his last race shows he handles the mile and moving back to dirt can only help him.

Unyielding showed early speed and finished fourth as the 2-1 favorite in the Tempe. He was riding a three-race win streak - all three sprints on dirt - before the Tempe. The three who finished ahead of Unyielding in the Tempe all race again Saturday, but Unyielding was beaten only a length, and he should benefit in the Chuck N Luck by a return to dirt and the rail draw.

Ripley finished seventh in the Tempe. He won an optional claimer before that and is proven going a mile. Icy Tobin was third in the Tempe and has been knocking heads with the best 3-year-olds on this circuit. Trieste didn't fire in the Tempe but was second to Unyielding, beating Deputy Doc, in the Palo Verde on dirt before that.

Moody Slew hasn't started since chasing Siberland and Jimmy O in the Dec. 21 Arizona Juvenile. He won his only other two races, both sprints. Milk Thief has turned the corner. He graduated sprinting on dirt Jan. 27 and last out won an entry-level allowance for Arizona-breds going a mile.

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