04/28/2011 12:00PM

Turf Paradise: Arizona-breds take the spotlight


PHOENIX – The spotlight shines on the local product Saturday at Turf Paradise. Arizona Breeders’ Day is highlighted by five stakes for Arizona-breds, with the $50,000 Gene Fleming Breeders’ Derby leading the way. The nine-race card also includes the Ann Owens Distaff Handicap, the Joanne Dye, the Sandra Hall Grand Canyon Handicap, and the Dwight D. Patterson Handicap, with each worth $25,000.

Jamaican Memories and Mighty Buck have been facing the best fields and lead a group of seven 3-year-olds in the Breeders’ Derby (race 4) at 1 1/16 miles, but sharp up-and-comer Lewkacy may be the one to beat. Owned by the Triple AAA Ranch and trained by James Frey, Lewkacy ran fourth in a strong allowance race here Feb. 5, behind Jamaican Memories and Mighty Buck, who ran second and third. He was freshened and came back to be a sharp second April 9.

Jamaican Memories is a stakes winner here but comes off eighth-place finishes in the Turf Paradise Derby on Feb. 26 and grassy Tempe Handicap on March 19. The move back to dirt and drop to face statebreds may get Jamaican Memories back on track. Mighty Buck was sharp this fall and winter but ran sixth in the Turf Paradise Derby and third in the Arizona Stallion Stakes on grass April 2.

In other Saturday action:

◗ Table Mesa looms a heavy favorite as she defends her title in the Ann Owens Distaff Handicap (race 2). She’s a multiple stakes winner this meet – on fast going, sloppy going, and turf – and leads a field of six fillies and mares going six furlongs.

◗ Top Debutante invades from Southern California to head a field of seven 3-year-old fillies going 6 1/2 furlongs in the Joanne Dye (race 3). She easily won her maiden at Santa Anita on Feb. 4 and then ran fifth in a strong optional claimer there March 27. Maria Lake, fourth in the Arizona Oaks last time out Feb. 26, and Gotta Skedaddle, second in the Arizona Stallion Stakes against males on turf April 2, are her main rivals.

◗ Ez Dreamer looms an overwhelming yet potentially vulnerable favorite when he leads a field of seven older horses in the six-furlong Sandra Hall Grand Canyon Handicap (race 5). Ez Dreamer has competed well in graded stakes and earned more than $517,000, but he doesn’t come here in peak form. He faded to 10th in the Grade 3 Phoenix at Keeneland on Oct. 8, was laid off, and then was eased to finish last of seven in a grass sprint at Santa Anita on Feb. 5. Should he continue his decline, the sharp claimer Plantsite may be the prime beneficiary.

◗ One Call must deal with high weight of 123 pounds and an outside post as he leads a field of seven older horses going 1 1/16 miles on turf in the Dwight D. Patterson Handicap (race 8). He adds blinkers after running fifth in a strong optional claimer on grass here April 2 and was sharp on turf earlier this meet, finishing second to likely Turf Paradise horse of the meet All Saint in the Cotton Fitzsimmons Handicap at a mile on the turf here Jan. 15. One Call’s main rival may be Hidden Bounty, who drew the rail and has ample speed. A multiple dirt stakes winner here, Hidden Bounty won three in a row this winter and steps up after running third in a $20,000 dirt sprint claimer April 4. Part of that three-race win streak was a wire-to-wire win on this turf course Feb. 5.

◗ Part of Saturday’s card will showcase cutting-edge technology that gives fans the dramatic point of view of being aboard the winning horse. The EquiSight Jockey Camera system will be used on races 2, 4, and 8. The EquiSight camera is mounted on a jockey’s helmet, giving fans the view and sensation of being in the middle of the action. The cameras will be worn by all jockeys in three races.