02/22/2007 12:00AM

Re-energized Jack's Kid rolls into Gold Cup

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PHOENIX - For a year and a half Jack's Kid was stuck at the first-level allowance condition and it appeared as if he might never break through. But the 5-year-old gelding has turned the corner in recent months and enters Saturday's $100,000 Phoenix Gold Cup, the marquee event of the Turf Paradise meet, as the horse to beat.

The Gold Cup, which has a full field of 12 going six furlongs, goes as race 9 on the 10-race card Saturday and leads a stakes tripleheader. Also on the card are the $75,000 Turf Paradise Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on the turf (race 8), and the $50,000 Sun City Handicap for fillies and mares at a mile on the turf (race 6).

After spinning his wheels until last spring, Jack's Kid was given about five months off by trainer Bob Hess Jr. He came back with two improved outings in the fall, then blasted first-level allowance horses at Hollywood Park Dec.o16, cruising home by three lengths for a 101 Beyer Speed Figure. Showing that was no fluke, he came back Feb. 9 at Santa Anita and powered home to again win by three, this time against second-level allowance foes. His Beyer again was 101.

Michael Baze comes in to keep the mount on Jack's Kid, who will carry 120 pounds.

But the fact is, Jack's Kid may need to improve further to win on Saturday. Sailors Sunset, the 123-pound highweight, has proven Southern California class. He easily won the Grade 3 Vernon Underwood at Hollywood Park Dec. 2, with a Beyer of 106, before dueling for the lead and finishing sixth in the Grade 1 Malibu at Santa Anita on Dec. 26 in his last start. He's no stranger to success at Turf Paradise, having won the Nov. 4 Saguaro by a half-length over Smokey Stover, who came back and won the Sunshine Millions Sprint. Scott Stevens rides for trainer Marcelo Polanco.

Snowbound Halo and Family Guy might be best of the local contingent. Snowbound Halo has won 4 of 5 starts, including an easy win in the G Malleah here Feb. 3 with a 102 Beyer. Family Guy posted two strong wins here this winter, including the Swift Stakes on Jan. 6 in his last race.

Relato del Gato comes off three straight big wins against easier foes. Diligent Prospect has won 6 of 11 starts, including the 2006 Swift here. He was second to Snowbound Halo in the G Malleah.

Pure American also rates a shot at an upset, having won 3 of his last 6 starts. He was a rallying second to Family Guy in the Swift.