02/14/2008 1:00AM

Idiot Proof class of Gold Cup


PHOENIX – Surely the connections of some of the horses in Saturday’s $100,000 Phoenix Gold Cup at Turf Paradise didn’t plan on running into one of the country’s best sprinters, but that’s the hurdle in front of them. Idiot Proof, the runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, ships in from Southern California and will carry high weight of 125 pounds in the six-furlong fixture, which attracted a field of eight.

The Gold Cup, race 7, leads a stakes triple-header Saturday. Also on the card are two turf stakes: the $75,000 Turf Paradise Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles (race 8) and the $50,000 Sun City Handicap for fillies and mares at a mile (race 6).

Idiot Proof looms the overwhelming favorite in the Gold Cup for owners Pam and Marty Wygod and trainer Cliff Sise Jr. He showed talent long before his Breeders’ Cup second. He won the Grade 3 Jersey Shore at Monmouth on July 4, earning a 113 Beyer Speed Figure, and won the Grade 1 Ancient Title at Oak Tree at Santa Anita on Oct. 7. In the Breeders’ Cup Sprint on Oct. 27, he was near the lead early on the sloppy Monmouth track, put away the other speed, and finished 4 3/4 lengths behind Midnight Lute, well clear of the rest.

His only outing since was a bit disappointing. He dueled for the lead and faltered to third in the Grade 3 El Conejo Handicap at Santa Anita on Jan. 1. He has worked brilliantly since, including four furlongs in 44.60 seconds here Feb. 11. Sise said the move was too fast.

“I was looking for 46,” Sise said, although he reported the horse didn’t seem any worse for wear afterward.

The Gold Cup serves as a prep for Idiot Proof as he targets the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai on March?29, Sise said. Regular rider David Flores keeps the mount on Saturday.

Sailors Sunset and Tribesman also invade from California for the Gold Cup.

Sailors Sunset is a Grade 3 winner and ran second in this race last year. He hasn’t run since finishing fifth in the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap last July 7. Chris Landeros rides at 123 pounds.

Tribesman has rattled off four straight wins. He came back from a layoff of a couple of months Jan. 13 at Golden Gate, and went wire to wire to beat a strong group that included the stakes winner Vicarino.

Trail This is the best local hope. A 5-year-old, he has won his last two in impressive fashion over this track: the Swift on Jan. 5 and the G?Malleah on Jan. 26.

Turf Paradise Cap: Capitano returns

Capitano is back to defend his crown in the Turf Paradise Handicap. Trained by Tom Bell III, Capitano has run just once since last year’s race, a fifth in the Hang on Slewpy here Jan.?23.

The horse to beat is Crested. A graded stakes veteran trained by Wally Dollase, he rallied to win the Cotton Fitzsimmons here Jan. 5 over a number of these same rivals, including Billy Allen, who went on to win the Hang on Slewpy.

Fitz Flag has run in numerous graded turf marathons in Southern California with some success. He won his only start here, an optional claimer in December 2006. Willow O Wisp, a veteran of Grade 1 stakes, has plenty of speed and may appreciate the class drop.

* Live Life and North Beach lead a field of 11 in the Sun City Handicap. Live Life is Grade 1-placed and has speed. North Beach is 3 for 4 on turf, all three wins coming at this mile trip. Star of Whitney has 6 wins in 7 starts on this course, including three stakes wins.