11/13/2003 12:00AM

Homecoming day for Mullins


PHOENIX - Until he switched his base of operations to Southern California a couple years ago, Jeff Mullins dominated the training scene at Turf Paradise. He returns to the site of so many successes with new acquisition Demon Warlock in Saturday's $35,000 Paradise Valley Handicap. The 7 1/2-furlong turf race drew a full field of 10 and one also-eligible.

Mullins, several times leading trainer here, claimed Demon Warlock out of a 6 1/2-furlong turf race for $50,000 on Oct. 29. The 3-year-old Demon Warlock was a solid fourth that day, and had previously finished a close third over the same downhill turf course at Santa Anita for a $62,500 tag. Mullins has had tremendous success in recent seasons with new acquisitions, clicking at a super 29 percent first off the claim.

This is Mullins's first starter of the meet, and based on Demon Warlock's Southern California turf form and overall ability, he is the likely favorite. Glen Corbett rides at 120 pounds.

Also in at 120 pounds are Cut of Music, who won over this course last May but spent the summer running on dirt at Arapahoe, and Double Intrigue, who has yet to try turf and comes back after eight-plus months on the shelf.

Cut of Music, trained by William Brownlee, hasn't run in almost three months but is no stranger to these parts. He won a $25,000 optional claimer on this course going a mile last May and has worked strongly for his return to action. Still, the layoff is a significant hurdle.

That goes even more so for Double Intrigue. He was third in the Turf Paradise Derby here Feb. 1, behind the classy 3-year-olds Robledo and Siberland, but then shipped back to Sunland Park and was a dull seventh. He hasn't raced since March 2 and must deal not only with that lengthy layoff but a new surface as well.

The potential spoiler is Newark. He took a couple months off during the summer, but came back Sept. 27 to be a strong second in the Saguaro, then romped in an allowance race here Oct. 15. Both of those were dirt sprints. He now goes to turf and gets more ground, but he romped in the Arizona Stallion Stakes on this course at this trip back in May. In his only other turf try, Newark faced midrange claimers at Hollywood Park and found those waters too deep. Steve Gomez rides at 119 pounds.