12/14/2006 12:00AM

Surface should favor Skyline Trail


PHOENIX - Skyline Trail couldn't handle Florida Keys when the two met in the Walter R. Cluer on the grass here Nov. 11. But Skyline Trail is better on the dirt - as evidenced by an overnight stakes victory on the main track here last out - and he has a good chance to reverse the outcome of the Cluer when he meets Florida Keys again Saturday in the $40,000 Black Mountain Handicap at Turf Paradise. The one-mile event on the main track lured a field of nine.

Skyline Trail drew the outside post, but the 5-year-old gelding has enough early speed to take the early lead, get over, and save ground. Owned and trained by William Mehok, Skyline Trail will be ridden by Kristina Kenney at 120 pounds.

Trained by Troy Bainum, Florida Keys came here from Southern California with a nice resume. While it included no dirt wins (all seven have come on the turf), he was stakes-placed on dirt at Fairplex last summer and set the pace in that meet's marquee event, the 1 1/8-mile Ralph Hinds Handicap, before tiring to sixth. So he can handle dirt, though possibly not as well as he handles turf.

In the Cluer on the turf, Florida Keys stalked the pace of Skyline Trail, surged into contention into the lane, and edged away for the score.

Florida Keys will be the 124-pound highweight Saturday, and Jocelyn Kenny will ride.

Prorunner is certainly a danger for trainer Molly Pearson. A 4-year-old gelding, Prorunner faced the top sprinters on this circuit last year and beat them in the G. Malleah in April. He then went to Hollywood Park and was third in the Grade 3 Los Angeles Handicap and fourth in the Grade 3 Ack Ack before failing to threaten in the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap.

After a summer vacation, Prorunner came back here and finished strongly to be second in a good allowance race Nov. 27. All four of his wins have come here, and while he has sprinted for the most part, he's shown before he can handle this trip. Glenn Corbett has the mount.