11/23/2005 12:00AM

Raging Wind claim pays off quickly

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Trainer Troy Bainum apparently made himself a nice claim, and a timely one. On Nov. 11 he claimed Raging Wind out of a dirt sprint. He brought him back in last Saturday's $40,000 Paradise Valley Handicap, at 7 1/2 furlongs on the turf, right into the teeth of huge 2-5 favorite, Chinese Dragon, who was shipping in from Southern California riding a four-race win streak since coming to the U.S. from Ireland.

Despite being 38-1 for new owners Jim Anstett and John Hansen, Raging Wind did well, prompting the pace, taking over into the lane, and having just enough to keep the heavy favorite at bay in the final yards.

"How much more exciting can this game get!" Bainum exclaimed. "I can't even describe how I'm feeling right now."

The horse not only paid $78.60 and earned $24,000 for the win, he also did it only eight days after the new owners plunked down just $20,000 to claim him.

"A nice return on our investment and very timely," said Hansen.

Trainer Bob Hess Jr. wasn't too dismayed by the loss of his classy turf runner, Chinese Dragon.

"We got beat. No excuses," said Hess. "This race will serve as a good prep for opening day at Santa Anita [the Sir Beaufort at a mile on the turf, Dec. 26.] And there he'll carry 10 less pounds."

Chinese Dragon, the 127-pound highweight, gave away 11 pounds to Raging Wind.

Three Wednesdays added to meet

The Arizona Racing Commission last week approved Turf Paradise's request to add three Wednesday racing programs - Nov. 30 and Dec. 7 and 14 - to its schedule and cleared the way for full-card simulcasting into California on those Wednesdays.

As a result of the three additional Wednesdays, Turf Paradise will not race live on Dec. 24. The Dec. 21 card was already scheduled as a special live race day.

Turf Paradise's request was a result of Hollywood Park canceling four Wednesday programs because it is not able to race on its turf course.

"Due to the situation with the loss of our turf course and of Wednesday racing, we looked for the best simulcasting product available," said Eual Wyatt, Hollywood Park general manager. "So I contacted Mr. [Eugene] Joyce [Turf Paradise's general manager] and we made an arrangement for full-card simulcasting."

Turf Paradise has planned an average of three turf races a day between Nov. 30 and Dec. 21.

"We're always happy to have our product in California," said Turf Paradise owner Jerry Simms. "We look at this as an opportunity to help our horsemen and Hollywood Park."

Handicapping contest field full

The Turf Paradise handicapping tournament on Dec. 10-11 - a qualifier for both the Daily Racing Form/NTRA Finals and the Coast Casinos Finals at The Orleans Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas - has already reached its 250-entrant limit.

"This is a first, to sell out with nearly a month to go," said tournament director Amelia Blanco. "This contest is that popular with horseplayers. I'm maintaining an also-eligible list in the event of cancellations."

The Turf Paradise tournament, which offers over $100,000 in prize money, sends the top 12 finishers to two finals in Las Vegas. The top six go to the DRF/NTRA finals at Bally's while the seventh-through-12th finishers go to the Coast Casino Finals at The Orleans.