Updated on 09/15/2011 1:19PM

'Knoll' the choice against elders


PHOENIX - Saturday's $30,000 Mesa Handicap will be the 3-year-old Knoll Lake's first start against elders. Knoll Lake, who has towered over her peers at Turf Paradise, figures to be the prohibitive choice against seven foes in the 6 1/2-furlong Mesa off a monster return win here Sept. 30 in the Ahwatukee Express.

Owned by Dennis Weir, Knoll Lake has dazzled winning 4 of 6 starts. She won her first three races last year by 20, 17 1/4, and 2 3/4 lengths, hardly breaking a sweat. But in April, in her first start since December, she lost at 1-2 after getting caught in a speed duel.

Trainer Kevin Lewis tried her on the turf in May, and she finished fourth at 2-5.

Lewis gave Knoll Lake the summer off, and when she came back at the start of this meet she romped by seven lengths, earning a huge 101 Beyer Figure. The filly she beat, Salty Helen, came back to beat some of the horses running in the Mesa in the City of Phoenix the following week by almost three lengths.

Obviously, anything close to a repeat of Knoll Lake's Ahwatukee Express run blitzes the competition. Knoll Lake carries high weight of 121 pounds and rider Hoogie Drexler from post 6.

Her main challenge may come from northern California invader Time for Romance, who is in the best form of her life. Trained by Clay Brinson, Time for Romance performed admirably at Del Mar in the summer, suffering two heartbreaking losses for a $25,000 and a $20,000 claiming tag. She shipped to Bay Meadows and finished second in an Aug. 31 sprint, and was claimed by Brinson.

She then beat starter allowance foes there Sept. 14, earning a strong 98 Beyer. She returned Oct. 4 in an optional claimer and ran second. That gives her a string of Beyers of 86, 89, 86, 98, and 87, higher than the Beyers of any of her opponents, except Knoll Lake's recent 101.

Time for Romance has the speed to keep Knoll Lake within reach. She is ridden by David Patton, carries 116 pounds, and breaks from post 7.

The most interesting entrant may be Ally's Katandmice. Off a 14-month layoff, the 3-year-old Ally's Katandmice beat a field of maidens here by more than 14 lengths. She came back to work well, and while it's a big step up to face multiple winners, she at least has shown significant ability.

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