05/04/2012 1:47PM

Turf Paradise: Brass Plate favored in Hasta La Vista

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PHOENIX – The traditional closing-day feature, the $35,000 Hasta La Vista Handicap, brings down the curtain Sunday on the long Turf Paradise meet. The 1 7/8-mile grass event is the final event on an 11-race program, and drew a field of nine grass marathoners headed by 122-pound highweight Brass Plate.

The meet’s final card also features the $35,000 ATBA Sales Spring Stakes for 2-year-olds going five furlongs.

Brass Plate, owned by Steve Henson and trained by Jim Frey, was big here in the winter, winning three straight dirt races including two parts of the Marathon Series, at 1 1/4 miles and 1 5/8 miles. He rallied to finish a strong third in a grass stakes at Santa Anita March 24, returned here, and gamely prevailed in the Wildcat Handicap at 1 3/8 miles on the turf. That is the traditional prep for this race.

The 4-year-old Brass Plate figures to be favored under Scott Stevens.

His main opposition may come from Keen Bidder. A 5-year-old gelding trained by Phil Hartman, Keen Bidder comes here razor sharp and adores this course. He’s won five of his seven starts on this layout and comes off two big wins here, first in the Turf Distance Trial at 1 1/8 miles March 4 and then in the Turf Distance Final at 1 1/2 miles April 9. Vicky Baze has the call at 118 pounds.

Northern Indy invades from California. He finished off the board in three starts this year and off the board in his only two grass tries, but this colt has been knocking heads with tough competition on the West Coast. Double Shuffle has a puncher’s chance, as the late-runner rallied for third behind Brass Plate in the Wildcat.

◗ Twelve juveniles are set to go postward in the ATBA Sales Stakes (race 10), headed by big trial winners Youbetshewon, Gadsden Purchase and My Little Tweety, as well as promising runners Rib Eye and Falcon Lane.

Racing returns to the Phoenix track for the 2012-2013 meet in the fall.