10/25/2012 12:51PM

Turf Paradise: Chambers stablemates may have turf advantage in Walter Cluer


PHOENIX – Things look tough enough to assess among the 10 slated to run in Saturday’s $35,000 Walter R. Cluer Memorial at Turf Paradise. Adding to the confusion in the mile grass event named for the Phoenix track’s founder is a paucity of proven turf form. It’s that lack of grass power that may play into the hands of trainer Mike Chambers’s two entrants, Gleam of Hope, Grade 3-placed on turf last fall, and Saratoga Boot, winner of the Cotton Fitzsimmons here Jan. 14 at this same distance.

It’s not as difficult to find the horse to beat in the $35,000 Queen of the Green, which is also slated for Saturday, as defending champ Rare Sunset returns to a course she adores. But it’s no slam dunk for the 7-year-old as seven fillies and mares are entered for the mile grass contest.

Gleam of Hope has won twice on turf and was third in the Grade 3 River City Handicap on turf at Churchill Downs last fall. After a win on Arlington’s Polytrack on Aug. 30, he ran fifth in the Bienvenidos, a dirt sprint, here Oct. 5. The move back to turf helps.

Saratoga Boot won the Cotton Fitzsimmons on this turf course at this trip Jan. 14 but is winless in five starts since. He ran seventh in the Bienvenidos.

Jaival is winless in eight grass tries but ran third in this race last year at 33-1, while Evening Island steps up in class after winning a dirt route at Fairplex on Sept. 9 and then winning in his first try on this grass course Oct. 13.

Rare Sunset, trained by Miguel Silva, has been a pro for a long time, winning 12 of 41 starts. She’s 5 for 9 on this course and counts among those wins a 5 1/2-length romp in this race last year. This marks her first start since she ran fourth in the Lady Canterbury on grass at the Minnesota track Aug. 4.

Unloch the Fury is a winner on turf and comes here sharp from New Mexico, where she won three of her last four. All those were on dirt but she won smartly here Dec. 30.

An interesting entrant is Emerald invader E Z Kitty. She won three in a row there before finishing fifth to the Northwest’s top female, Class Included, in the Boeing there July 8. Trained now by Chambers, E Z Kitty has been rested and tries grass for the first time. She is by He’s Tops, and her pedigree says turf shouldn’t be a problem.