02/27/2003 12:00AM

Hostility finds a softer spot


PHOENIX, Ariz. - Trainer Jack Van Berg is hoping a change of scenery and blinkers off can snap Hostility back to life in Saturday's $35,000 Cactus Cup Handicap at Turf Paradise. The 6 1/2-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies drew a field of eight.

Despite a string of poor efforts at Santa Anita, Hostility may go favored in the Cactus Cup as the 121-pound co-highweight. A Devil His Due filly, Hostility has shown ability on the tougher Southern California circuit, but her last three races have resulted in two eighth-place finishes and a sixth.

Her last race came in the mud and she may have to deal with mud again as rains have pelted the Phoenix area this week. She will be ridden by O. A. Martinez.

Top Penny is the proven local commodity in the Cactus Cup. Also assigned 121 pounds, Top Penny has won two of her last three, including the To the Post Stakes here Jan. 31. The one loss in her last three starts came at a mile in the Sun Devil, and she's obviously more comfortable sprinting. She will be ridden by leading rider Steve Gomez.

A potential upsetter is Tulsa, trained by Kevin Lewis. An In Excess filly, Tulsa debuted in Southern California last June and finished fourth. She didn't race again until Feb. 16 at Turf Paradise, when she trounced maidens. Kelly Bridges rides at 116.

* Robledo, winner of the Turf Paradise Derby, is being pointed for Golden Gate's Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at 1 1/16 miles March 8. Trained by Vladimir Cerin, Robledo upended 1-5 favorite Siberland in the Feb. 1 derby here, earning a 100 Beyer.

* After suffering a partially collapsed lung in a multi-horse spill on Feb. 17, Seth Martinez returned to riding Feb. 19. But, his mount in the sixth race that day banged him around in the gate before the start, and Martinez was reinjured. He hasn't ridden since and is expected to return riding Sunday.

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