10/20/2004 11:00PM

Muir Beach must be at best in Ahwatukee


PHOENIX - Muir Beach has looked better than ever winning her last four dirt races, including a big victory in Turf Paradise's Phoenix Handicap on Oct. 2. But she'll need all that form and maybe more as some new shooters come in to test her in Saturday's $40,000 Ahwatukee Express. The six-furlong event for fillies and mares has lured a field of seven, and quality runs deep.

It starts with Muir Beach. Trained by Dan McFarlane, Muir Beach has done some of her best work here, including two stakes wins. She had a good campaign here during the last meet, then after a late spring vacation came back to win a Bay Meadows allowance sprint, a Del Mar optional claiming sprint, and the Torrey Pines Stakes at a mile at Del Mar, before topping it off with her strong Phoenix tally. Wilson Dieguez has the return call.

Two new faces provide a big challenge. Wind Flow, trained by Caesar Dominguez, hasn't raced in just over a year, but last year she was knocking heads with the best 2-year-old fillies in Southern California, including champion Halfbridled and graded stakes winners Hollywood Story and Victory U. S. A. She won the Bustles and Bows at Fairplex by seven and then romped by five in the Anoakia at Santa Anita. But that was Oct. 19, 2003, and she's been on the sidelines since. She's worked in super fashion for her return. Daniel Vergara has the call.

Another shipper who merits respect is Forward Glance. Trained by Gary Cross, Forward Glance is no stranger to these parts - she won her debut here in April. But this summer she went to Arapahoe and impressively won two allowance races. Then after a couple of months off she resurfaced in the Fair Queen Handicap at Albuquerque and romped by more than six. She's been working strongly since at SunRay Park in New Mexico and rates a long look under Ken Tohill.

Pop the Latch comes off a big maiden win and a super three-furlong work in 34.20 seconds for trainer Doug Oliver; Rockin On returns with a strong work tab and was good enough to easily beat Muir Beach in the Valid Leader here last December; and Solly's Dolly comes off a nice allowance win here Oct. 1 and has won 3 of her 4 local outings.