01/15/2009 12:00AM

Majestic Diamond one classy invader


PHOENIX - He's never routed, he's never run at Turf Paradise, and he's facing some tough local opposition, but Majestic Diamond's class may carry him through as he invades Saturday for the $75,000 Cotton Fitzsimmons Handicap. The mile turf event for 4-year-olds and upward lured a field of nine and is the marquee event on a program that also features the $50,000 Glendale Handicap. The Fitzsimmons goes as race 8 on a nine-race card; the Glendale is race 3.

Majestic Diamond came to the U.S. in the fall from his native New Zealand, where he won 3 of his last 4 starts. He wasted no time proving his mettle for owner Paul Viskovich and trainer Leonard Powell. He rallied from well off the pace to win a tough optional claiming turf sprint at Hollywood Park Nov. 6 at 35-1. To prove that no fluke he came back in the Impressive Luck Handicap on Santa Anita's hillside turf course Dec. 29, lagged back early, and finished full of run to be second. Julien Couton, who rode him in his two Southern California starts, comes in for the ride.

Bingham, trained by Kevin Lewis, may be the horse for him to fear most. The 4-year-old Bingham handles any footing, but has proven particularly adept on turf. He's won 3 of his 4 turf starts, and is 2 for 3 on this course. He was fourth as the favorite in the Walter R. Cluer Memorial Handicap at a mile on the grass here opening week Oct. 25, his lone turf loss, but bounced right back to romp in the Jack Coady Sr. Handicap by 6 3/4 lengths Nov. 15 at about a mile on this course. He finished second to Saturday rival Highland Games in the Hank Mills Sr. on the main track here Dec. 6, his last start. Glenn Corbett rides again.

Kalgoorlie beat Bingham and a few others in here in the Walter R. Cluer. Trained by Mike Chambers, Kalgoorlie was a dull sixth in the Hank Mills Sr. Handicap as the 6-5 favorite, but may not have been comfortable on the main track. The move back to the turf may be key. Seth Martinez rides.

Glendale: Star of Whitney sharp

The Glendale Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for fillies and mares, drew a field of six.

Star of Whitney, a winner of 7 of 10 starts on this turf course and third in last year's Glendale, comes off a second in the Kachina Handicap on the main track here Dec. 27. She's Sensational, third in the Kachina, makes her first start on the Turf Paradise turf. Light Fingers invades off a smashing claiming win on the turf at Golden Gate and may be ready for the class hike.