02/16/2006 12:00AM

Muir Beach big favorite over invader in Glendale

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PHOENIX - Muir Beach showed it will take more than one loss to knock her off her perch as leading filly or mare on this circuit. She lost her comeback in the Kachina Handicap but bounced right back to win the Princess of Palms, and that sends her into Saturday's $40,000 Glendale Handicap at Turf Paradise again as the horse to beat. A 5-year-old mare, Muir Beach carries high weight of 124 pounds and faces seven rivals in the 1 1/16-mile turf race.

While nine of Muir Beach's 11 career wins have come on dirt, her turf record is solid. She has won 2 of 9 turf starts and was second four other times, including in this race last season.

After being named co-horse of the meet here last year, Muir Beach went to Southern California and performed admirably in four stakes, three of them graded. Her 2005 campaign ended in Southern California in early August and she didn't race again until the Jan. 14 Kachina.

Muir Beach rallied to be second in the Kachina as the 4-5 favorite, beaten by Kresgeville. That race apparently served her well, however, as she came right back to rally and win the Princess of Palms here Feb. 4. She will be a heavy favorite Saturday here under Joel Campbell.

Last year, Southern California invader Shezsospiritual upset Muir Beach in this race, and on Saturday Sparkling Humor is another dangerous Southern California shipper.

Sparkling Humor, 5, has faced quality opposition in Kentucky and California. In her last start, in the Tuzla Handicap at a mile on the turf at Santa Anita, she showed speed then faltered to end up last of six - but was facing multiple Grade 1 winner Ticker Tape and graded stakes runner Movie Star. She carries 118 pounds and Glenn Corbett rides.

Another interesting Southern California shipper is Porthcawl, who began her career in England, where she chased the future Group 1 winners Tarfah and Red Bloom. But she has run no better than fifth in three starts in this country. Tony Farina rides at 115 pounds.