02/17/2005 1:00AM

Obvious choice has some kinks


PHOENIX - The competition in the $50,000 Glendale Handicap on Saturday at Turf Paradise is deep, but the path to the winner's circle almost certainly goes through Muir Beach, the dominant filly or mare on the circuit.

Muir Beach will carry high weight of 124 pounds against 10 opponents in the 1 1/16-mile turf race. A 4-year-old daughter of Skip Away, Muir Beach boasts a record of 21-9-8-1 and has earnings of over $284,000. She goes for her fourth straight victory Saturday after winning the Mesa, Kachina, and Princess of Palms handicaps.

Muir Beach has had success on turf, but not as much as on dirt. She is 6-1-3-0 on turf, and that win was in the 7 1/2-furlong Chandler Handicap here in November. Muir Beach also has the worst draw, post 11, with a fairly short run into the clubhouse turn.

Another possible concern is the weather. Rain was in the forecast for the Phoenix area late in the week, which may lead to a non-firm turf course. Of course, if the race were to be rained off that would suit Muir Beach just fine, since she won her only wet-track start.

Trainer Dan McFarlane said he is keeping his options open.

"We've also nominated to Santa Anita's Buena Vista Handicap on Monday," said McFarlane. "But I haven't seen her weight assignment for that yet. So, we'll see."

Regular rider Wilson Dieguez has the call if Muir Beach goes.

Shezsospiritual, second highweight at 121 pounds, invades from Southern California for Graph Racing Stable and local trainer Troy Bainum. She was sixth last out at Santa Anita in the Tuzla behind Good Student, who came back last Sunday to be a close second in the Grade 1 Santa Maria Handicap at Santa Anita. Shezsospiritual invaded here for the Nov. 27 Queen of the Green Handicap and was a deadheat third just behind Muir Beach, finishing on even terms with Cal's Baby, another foe Saturday. Scott Stevens rides.

Frisco Belle, based in northern California, ships in for trainer Greg Gilchrist and owner Harry Aleo, the same connections of the dazzling Lost in the Fog. Frisco Belle won on this course in 2003. Jake Barton rides.

Trainer Marcelo Polanco and the Everest Stables, the combination that won last Saturday's Turf Paradise Derby and Turf Paradise Breeders' Cup, will send Petionville Indeed. A 5-year-old mare, Petionville Indeed was scratched from last weekend's Grade 1 Santa Maria at Santa Anita. This is certainly a better spot, and turf is her preferred surface.