Updated on 09/15/2011 2:10PM

Salty Helen's speed the key


PHOENIX - She's giving away experience - having run five races while the others in the field have each run more than 16 times. And she's giving away maturity, at age 3, while the others in the race are older.

Still, Salty Helen has the speed to be the favorite and win Saturday's City of Phoenix Handicap at Turf Paradise.

The $30,000 feature, the ninth on a 10-race card, is run at six furlongs, and it drew a field of eight.

Salty Helen blasted onto scene for Triple AAA Ranch in the spring of 2000. She beat males in her debut in an allowance race, then beat them again in the Arizona Futurity Shootout. She then disappeared from the track for 14 months, but when she resurfaced for trainer Kory Owens it was at Del Mar this past July and at 16-1 she showed that her speed was still there. She opened up a clear lead in an optional $62,500 claimer and held sway for the win.

She then tried restricted stakes foes at Del Mar in the CERF Handicap and was a good fourth behind multiple winners Global, High Margin, and Forward Filly. Owens brought her back to Turf Paradise for the Ahwatukee Express during opening week. Salty Helen pressed the issue but could never get to the front, as Knoll Lake freaked, beating Salty Helen by seven.

The fact Salty Helen comes back quickly, after sporadic starts in the past, is a positive sign. She will be ridden by S. B. Martinez under co-highweight of 119 pounds, and leaves from the extreme outside Post No. 8. With her speed she will take catching.

Right next door, however, is another speedster, Kipper's Kitten - a 5-year-old, who invades from Southern California. When last seen, she was a close second in a $50,000 claimer, ending up more than six lengths clear of third. She was claimed that day by Bob Hess Jr.

Kipper's Kitten has plenty of speed of her own, though she might not be quite as quick as Salty Helen. She has won 7 of 29 for and $219,000- and obviously she comes into the race in sharp form. Hoogie Drexler will ride.

The other co-highweight is Back Seat Babe, also an invader from Southern California. A Dean Greenman-trained filly, Back Seat Babe has been facing some tough opponents, including Chilukki, Spain, Kalookan Queen, and Go Go. However, she's 0 for 4 at six furlongs, and may be more effective running a mile or longer.

She leaves from the rail under Scott Stevens, and will be looking for the top pair to battle early and collapse in the lane as she pours it on late.