04/05/2012 10:26AM

Turf Paradise: All Saint defends title in Wildcat

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Benoit & Associates
All Saint was the horse of the meet at Turf Paradise last year.

PHOENIX – Last year All Saint used a romping victory in the Wildcat Handicap at Turf Paradise to help earn horse of the meet honors. While the exploits of Derive, who has won six races this meet including three stakes, make repeating as horse of the meet likely impossible for All Saint, he stands a good chance to defend his title in the $35,000 Wildcat on Saturday.

A 1 3/8-mile grass event, the Wildcat drew a field of nine 3-year-olds and up.

Also on the Saturday program is the $35,000 Arizona Stallion Stakes for 3-year-olds at 7 1/2 furlongs on the turf. That race drew a field of seven headed by A Political Time and Ten Ninety Seven. The Wildcat goes as race 8; the Arizona Stallion goes as race 4.

All Saint, a 6-year-old horse owned by Pascual Gamez and trained by Wilton Whitehouse, was smashing here last year. He won four straight stakes, including an easy 4 1/4-length win in this race. Things haven’t gone quite so well this year, but after running fourth in the Cotton Fitzsimmons here Jan. 14 he bounced back to captured the Turf Paradise Handicap Feb. 18 for a second straight year. All Saint won that race by 1 3/4 lengths over Wildcat foes Grandpa Roy and Double Shuffle.

All Saint carries high weight of 125 pounds and has regular pilot Michael Iammarino aboard.

His main opposition may well come from Grandpa Roy, who chased him home in the Turf Paradise Handicap. An 8-year-old gelding trained by Troy Smith, Grandpa Roy followed up that runner-up effort with an optional claiming win here March 6 and a second to Saturday foe Edgerin J in another optional-claiming grass race here March 30. He carries 119 pounds and rider David Lopez.

Call Me Later is the second highweight at 122 pounds for trainer Robertino Diodoro. Call Me Later comes off three straight dirt route wins and tries grass for the first time.

Another contender is Brass Plate, who ran third in a turf stakes at Santa Anita March 24, his best result in three grass tries. He is a proven stayer, having won two races in the marathon series on dirt here in January.

Arizona Stallion:

Despite a poor outing in his only turf start, A Political Time may still be the one to beat in the $35,000 Arizona Stallion Stakes. A son of Top Hit trained by Kevin Eikleberry, A Political Time was strong on dirt here in the fall, easily winning an allowance sprint before winning the Arizona Breeders Futurity, also a dirt sprint. After nearly four months off he came back in the Tempe Handicap at a mile on grass here March 17. He dueled for the early lead but then checked hard on the far turn, lost all his action, and retreated to end up ninth. Scott Stevens has the call.

Ten Ninety Seven is the only horse in the race to have finished first in a race on grass. He won a $12,500 grass race at this distance here March 5, only to be disqualified and placed second. Ten Ninety Seven ended up fifth in the Tempe Handicap March 17.