12/06/2001 12:00AM

Mistakenly Special returns to site of major romp

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PHOENIX - The one time Mistakenly Special showed up at Turf Paradise he was special indeed. Now he returns to the site of possibly the finest performance of his career, and again things look in his favor Saturday when he carries high weight against nine others in the $30,000 Cactus Wren Handicap.

The 6 1/2-furlong race for 3-year-olds and up, bred in Arizona, is almost identical in circumstances to the Grand Canyon Handicap here on April 7, when Mistakenly Special romped by 6 3/4 lengths in a dazzling display of sustained speed.

On that occasion, the Kevin Lewis-trained Mistakenly Special went to the front, setting monster splits of 21.60 seconds, 43.80 and 55.80, on his way to a geared-down win in 1:08.40 for six furlongs. He earned a 99 Beyer for the effort.

However, some things are different. On that day Mistakenly Special was in the midst of a strong northern California campaign, having previously won an optional claiming route (also earning a 99 Beyer) and coming off a string of good races. This time he comes here fresh. His last race was back on Aug. 4, when he was fourth behind a good group of elders in Santa Rosa's Joseph T. Grace. At that level, 1 1/16 miles may be pushing it for him. He is working in terrific fashion for this, however, and looms a short price.

He leaves from post 7 under Scott Stevens and of 123 pounds.

The second highweights, at 117 pounds, are Doc Art and C.D. Haj. Doc Art hasn't run since May, but like Mistakenly Special, he has been working strongly for his return.

He was third, beaten seven lengths by Mistakenly Special in the Grand Canyon for trainer Frank Covello.

C. D. Haj has done most of his best racing at Arapahoe and Albuquerque, and is tough to gauge. His last two races were on the turf, going longer and at this track, and while he ran well last out in an optional claimer, he hasn't recently shown the flair he displayed during a three-race win streak in the spring. Maybe a return to dirt will give the Jodi Davis-trained runner a kick-start.

The potential spoiler and price play is the upstart Ex Post Facto. He had been a disappointment, but when trainer Molly Pearson returned him to a sprint, he blasted maiden claimers by almost eight lengths. He was next thrown in against foes routing on turf and was nowhere. But then last week he returned to a dirt sprint against restricted claimers and under jockey Glen Corbett galloped again, winning by eight. This is a big step up, but his form indicates that he has turned the corner, at least sprinting on dirt, and Corbett keeps the call.

Any race involving local legend G Malleah is the better for it. Sure, the 10-year-old G Malleah isn't what he used to be, and he hasn't won since 1999. But a winner of 17 races, including numerous stakes here, he still has some speed and warrants at least a passing glance.