03/07/2013 2:56PM

Turf Paradise: E Z Kitty to get true test in Mesa

Coady Photography
E Z Kitty won the Sun City impressively last out (above), but she'll have to be at her best to beat Jaws n’ Paws in the Mesa.

PHOENIX – If E Z Kitty is to retain her status as the leading female at Turf Paradise, she’ll need all her versatility as she faces a tough challenge in Saturday’s $35,000 Mesa Handicap. A field of eight is entered in the 6 1/2-furlong event.

Owned by Mike Chambers, John Xitco, and Dan Agnew, and trained by Chambers, E Z Kitty continues her superb form. Before coming here, the 5-year-old mare was a multiple winner at Emerald Downs in 2011 and 2012, including a stakes win last spring. She’s since flourished, and it’s her versatility that seems key.

E Z Kitty is a stakes winner sprinting on dirt here (Phoenix on Dec. 19), routing on dirt here (Kachina on Jan. 5), and routing on turf (Sun City last time out, Feb. 16). She has speed but is by no means a need-the-lead type, and her far outside draw should lead to a dream stalking trip under Scott Stevens. She carries co-high weight of 124 pounds.

One reason this is a tough assignment for E Z Kitty is the presence of the other 124-pound highweight, least year’s Mesa Handicap heroine Jaws n’ Paws. Owned by Stateside Racing and trained by Robertino Diodoro, the 6-year-old mare romped by 4 1/2 lengths in this last year and then went on to capture the Princess of Palms by 9 1/4 lengths.

After a couple sharp efforts at Northlands Park last spring, Jaws n’ Paws went to the sidelines. She returned here Feb. 8 and dominated an optional claimer by eight lengths. That made her 3 for 3 on this track and showed she’s back as good as ever. Giovanni Franco rides.

If someone were to upset the top, two the most likely candidate would be Page Springs. Owned by the Sawyer Cattle Company and trained by Dan McFarlane, the 4-year-old Page Springs is known for her amazing early speed. She’s won 6 of 9 here, including the Princess of Palms and Cactus Flower this meet. She faded to fourth behind E Z Kitty in the Phoenix and ran third against males in a 1,000-yard contest Feb. 22.

Page Springs figures to sizzle early under David Lopez, though that may leave her vulnerable come the final furlongs. She totes 120 pounds.