01/07/2007 1:00AM

It's back to grass for veteran


PHOENIX – Florida Keys, winner of the $40,000 Black Mountain Handicap on the dirt here in mid-December, is now targeting bigger and better things – Saturday’s $75,000 Cotton Fitzsimmons Mile.

The Fitzsimmons is on turf, which is Florida Keys’s best surface, according to trainer Troy Bainum, who cites the horse’s victory in the Walter Cluer Memorial Stakes on Nov. 11 here as proof.

The Fitzsimmons Mile, named after the late coach and executive of the Phoenix Suns who was an avid horseplayer and fixture at Turf Paradise, serves as a lead-in to the $75,000 Turf Paradise Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on the turf here Feb. 24.

Florida Keys, with Jocelyne Kenny aboard, gutted out a three-quarter-length victory over Trail This to win the Black Mountain Handicap. As the 6-5 favorite and 124-pound highweight that day, the 5-year-old Florida Keys stalked the pace and responded to Kenny’s urging to wear down Trail This in the last 70 yards.

“He’s awesome,” said Kenny.

Florida Keys ran the mile in 1:35.21. Florida Keys, whose previous seven victories came over turf, is now 8 for 25 with earnings of $237,815.

My Cupid shows promise

My Cupid may have given himself a shot at the Phoenix Gold Cup in mid-February after a smashing win in Monday’s $40,000 Cactus Wren Handicap.

Sent off at 5-1 under Chris Landeros, My Cupid bounced right out to the lead in the 6 1/2-furlong race, rebuffed a couple challenges on the far turn, and stayed on for a three-length victory. He covered the distance in 1:15.95 for trainer Dan McFarlane and owner Les Blake.

Moores Bridge and Komax, the two veterans who dominated the wagering, going off at 3-2 and 9-5, respectively, failed to make a dent.

Moores Bridge stalked the pace, made a menacing move on the turn, and then fell back, finishing fifth in the field of seven. Komax sat in midpack and made a bit of a run into the lane to finish second, though he was never a threat to the winner. Komax bled in the race.