11/21/2002 12:00AM

Reine and Krone look tough


PHOENIX - Last year in the Queen of the Green Handicap, Alexine swooped down from Southern California and snatched first prize. It could happen again as Southern California raiders Reine de Romance, Polaire, and Double Cat run in this year's Queen of the Green on Saturday at Turf Paradise. The $50,000 race lured a field of 10 to go a mile on the turf.

There's an added bonus - Julie Krone, the Hall of Fame rider who recently came out of retirement, will ride likely favorite Reine de Romance.

Reine de Romance, trained by Jenine Sahadi, comes into the race having faced some of the best female turf runners anywhere. As a 3-year-old last year she ran into the likes of Golden Apples and Affluent. This year she hasn't been in quite so deep, but still ran into graded stakes foes on a number of occasions. The

121-pound highweight, Reine de Romance must deal with a lousy draw - post 10 - but may have too big a class edge to be compromised.

Polaire, assigned 120 pounds, has plenty of back class, though the 6-year-old mare hasn't been sharp the past year or so. Still, the one time she ran on this turf course she aired. She is trained by Donald Burke.

Double Cat, trained by Neil Drysdale, has run just three times this year, but showed all kinds of talent last year. She has worked steadily since finishing fourth in a stakes at Delaware.

The local contingent is led by Moonlit Maddie, an impressive winner over this course in her recent comeback, and 4 for 7 on this course. Locally based Miss Pixie, known mainly known as a main-track sprinter, pushed Alexine to a nose in last year's Queen of the Green.

- Juan Rivera, who fell when his mount, Friendofthefamily, stumbled at the start of the third race last Sunday, required stitches under his chin and time to recover from body soreness after being kicked and jostled. Rivera did not ride Monday but was expected to resume riding Friday.