12/16/2004 1:00AM

Muir Beach the pick in Mesa, if she starts


PHOENIX - Turf or dirt, sprint or route, it doesn't matter in the slightest to Muir Beach. A consistent 3-year-old, has won 6 of 18 by virtue of her adaptability, and she again looks like the favorite in the $40,000 Mesa Handicap Saturday at Turf Paradise - if she runs. She also was entered in Friday's Bueno Stakes here. The six-furlong Mesa, for fillies and mares, has lured a field of seven.

Owned by Dennis Weir and trained by Dan McFarlane, Muir Beach has been first or second in 11 of her 14 races this year, including wins in the Torrey Pines at Del Mar and the Phoenix and Chandler handicaps here. She was second in the Auwatukee Express and second in her most recent start, the Queen of the Green on the turf here Nov. 27.

Regular rider Wilson Dieguez has the call on Muir Beach.

Elegant Mercedes, a 4-year-old trained by Henry Dominguez, invades from New Mexico. Earlier in the year she raced in the East, winning at Aqueduct and Saratoga. She was claimed by her current connections on Aug. 26, then shipped to Albuquerque, where she was fourth as the favorite in the West Mesa Handicap on Sept. 24.

Elegant Mercedes was given some time to regroup and resurfaced in an allowance race at Sunland on Nov. 9. She sat well back early and came home strongly to win going away. Leading rider Mick Ruis picks up the mount on Elegant Mercedes.