12/27/2001 1:00AM

Purls Ledgend ships in to score


PHOENIX - Usually when a hot new filly rides into town here, she comes from the West, or more specifically, Southern California. But when Turf Paradise presents the $30,000 Kachina Handicap at a mile Saturday, the new shooter comes from another direction. She is, by no means, any less dangerous.

A field of 10 is entered in the Kachina, a mile race for fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up - and highweight Purls Ledgend presents a new hurdle for the locals. A 6-year-old mare, she has been a dynamo in the Southwest.

Trained by Kevin Eikleberry, she has won 12 of 39 starts, including several stakes at Sun Ray Park, Albuquerque, and Arapahoe.

But there are issues for Purls Ledgend besides new surroundings. She comes into this race off a two-month layoff, though the last time she returned from a similar layoff she romped to victory by more than five lengths at Arapahoe. She also has been effective primarily at sprinting. Despite her fine overall record, she is 0 for 7 at a mile. Note however that she won the 1 1/16-mile Columbine Handicap at Arapahoe last summer.

Purls Ledgend must also carry highweight of 121 pounds. Glen Corbett rides.

Despite Purls Ledgend's resume, she may well not be favored. Hard-hitting local Gleefully comes off a disappointing try in the Queen of the Green on turf, but she previously had won the Bersid over the main track at this distance, beating a number of these horses.

Unlike Purls Ledgend, Gleefully is at her best at this trip, and while she got no closer than seventh in the Queen of the Green, she had trouble early and was left with too much to do. But she did finish willingly. She also doesn't face any foe like Southern California shipper Alexine, whom she chased in the Queen of the Green.

Trained by Eric Kruljac, Gleefully carries second highweight of 120 pounds and figures to get a great trip, stalking the pacesetters. She is coupled with Molly and Me.

The Kevin Lewis-trained entry of Sunset Point and Balboa Park demands respect. Sunset Point hasn't raced since Nov. 10, but runs well fresh, likes this track, and returns from grass to dirt. Balboa Park comes off a sharp win at 7 1/2 furlongs on the turf, but has won three times on the dirt and was third to Gleefully in the Bersid at this trip on this track.

Another runner deserving mention is the quick Miss Pixie. Trained by Vann Belvoir, she ran second to Gleefully in the Bersid, then a terrific second - beaten just a nose - to graded-stakes performer Alexine in the Queen of the Green. Miss Pixie didn't show that brilliance last time, finishing third to Balboa Park as the 4-5 favorite, but her speed makes her dangerous.

It's worth noting also that Corbett rode her the last three times, but ends up on Purls Ledgend for this race.

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