01/02/2003 1:00AM

Komax fresh for Cactus Wren


PHOENIX - Turf Paradise has carded a stakes doubleheader on Saturday.

Komax, a multiple stakes winner over this track, leads a field of nine going 6 1/2 furlongs in the $35,000 Cactus Wren Handicap for Arizona-bred older horses. One race later, Eagleton, another multiple local stakes winner, is the horse to beat among seven in the $35,000 Kokopelli Handicap. The Kokopelli, at a mile on the turf, is for 4-year-olds and upward.

Komax makes his first start off a layoff Saturday. Last April, he easily beat a number of his Saturday foes in the Grand Canyon. After that he finished third to former sprint champ Kona Gold in the Grade 3 Los Angeles at Hollywood, then was fifth after a slow start to Disturbingthepeace in the Grade 2 Bing Crosby at Del Mar.

In his last race, the Grade 3 Longacres Mile at Emerald Aug. 25, Komax finished fifth to front-running winner Sabertooth after a slow start and a wide trip.

Komax has put in a strong, steady stream of drills for trainer Kory Owens. Leslie Mawing rides Komax, the 124-pound highweight, who breaks from the rail.

Main opposition figures to come from Ex Post Facto, who twice was third to Komax here last spring and comes off a sharp optional claiming win. His recency and form could be key.

Turf Paradise veteran Mistakenly Special returns to his best game after a dull try in the Paradise Mile on turf.

In the Kokopelli, the 7-year-old Eagleton makes his first start since defeating Milk Wood, who runs again Saturday, in the Walter Cluer on the turf here Nov. 2. Eagleton has worked well since that win. He carries high weight of 122 pounds and Miguel Hernandez from post 1.

His main opposition again figures to come from Milk Wood, who has been firing bullets since coming here from Southern California after trainer Molly Pearson claimed him for $20,000 in August. After narrowly missing to Eagleton in the Cluer, he came back to win an optional claimer, then was a troubled third (moved up to second via disqualification) in the Paradise Mile.

Our Best Man, who lost by a nose to Milk Wood in that aforementioned optional claimer Nov. 26, is a potential upsetter.