02/07/2004 1:00AM

Irish Warrior all out in BC Handicap


PHOENIX - Irish Warrior needed to call upon all his class to get up in the final strides and win Saturday's $150,000 Turf Paradise Breeders' Cup Handicap over sharp local campaigner Black Bart.

The Turf Paradise BC Handicap was the headliner on a card that also included the $100,000 Turf Paradise Derby and the $75,000 Arizona Oaks. The stakes tripleheader drew a large crowd for Turf Paradise of over 5,400.

Irish Warrior, who is trained by Wally Dollase and was ridden by Emile Ramsammy, carried high weight of 123 pounds and was favored at 3-5 due to such fine efforts as his fourth in the Breeders' Cup Mile and a second-place finish in the Grade 2 Citation Handicap.

As is his custom, the 6-year-old son of Irish River bided his time early in the 1 1/16-mile turf event, and launched his run going into the far turn. At the top of the stretch he seemed poised to blow on by for a big win, but Black Bart, trained locally by Troy Bainum and carrying just 113 pounds, had other ideas as he surged to the lead and battled gamely to the wire under rider Sandi Gann. Black Bart came up just a head shy of winning his third straight at 11-1 and was five lengths clear of third-place finisher, Rock N Rosh, who opened up as much as a six-length lead down the backstretch before succumbing to the top pair.

Freefourinternet, who shipped in from Fair Grounds, finished a nonthreatening fifth as the 9-2 third choice. He was last early and left himself too much to do.

Irish Warrior covered the 1 1/16 miles on turf in 1:40.89 and paid $3.20. He earned $90,000 to push his career earnings to over $750,000.

Mambo Train much best in derby

Mambo Train, who found the Grade 2 Santa Catalina too tough last time out, appreciated the change of venue and class drop as he came home strongly to win the Turf Paradise Derby. The 3-year-old son of Kingmambo, trained by Marcelo Polanco for the Everest Stables, broke on top in the 1 1/16-mile dirt event, led through a quarter-mile and then relinquished the lead to pacesetters Bradford and Perfect Moon after having to check along the rail.

He got back into stride, swung out to stalk the pace, and then finished strongly to win going away by two and a half lengths. Perfect Moon held the place while Bradford tired to be third.

The race lost a bit of luster when one of the favorites, Point Dume, scratched to instead go in Sunday's Golden State Mile at Golden Gate, and Mambo Train's entrymate, Wimplestiltskin scratched after not making the trip and instead ran in the San Vicente at Santa Anita Saturday.

Mambo Train was timed in 1:42.07. He has two wins in seven starts and the $60,000 winner's share pushed his lifetime bankroll to over $97,000. He paid $7.60.

Everest Stables makes it a double

The Everest Stables made it a big day as their filly Very Vegas opened up a huge lead, then battled gamely when hooked in the lane to post a head win in the $75,000 Arizona Oaks.

Ridden by Mick Ruis for trainer Terry Knight, Very Vegas opened up as much as a nine-length lead going down the backstretch. She employed these same tactics in the Jan. 17 Sun Devil here going a mile but on that day couldn't quite fend off Coke's Melody.

Coke's Melody once again charged at her, closing the gap quickly on the far turn, but she couldn't quite get past Very Vegas. Muir Beach and Homemaker rallied well to be third and fourth, respectively. Church Editor, sent off as 6-5 favorite, loomed a threat on the far turn but tired to end up fifth.

Very Vegas earned $45,000 for her fourth victory from eight starts, pushing her bankroll to more than $110,000. She ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.67 and paid $6.60 as the second choice.