12/04/2003 12:00AM

Turf Paradise: Grimm stuck outside


PHOENIX - The Grimm fairy tales were usually orchestrated to extract fear or horror. Well, it seems Grimm the racehorse is taking his name to heart, and his current form has been exacting a similar response from foes. A 4-year-old who has won six of his last seven starts, Grimm is the 122-pound co-highweight in the $35,000 Black Mountain Handicap at Turf Paradise.

But it's entirely possible it is Grimm who has things to fear. He is the hottest horse on the circuit over the past year, but there are significant hurdles. First, he must deal with the worst of the draw - the extreme outside post, No. 9., and with a short run into the first turn of the mile race, that could mean trouble. Second, while he has won at the distance, the win came on the turf last time out in the Patchy Groundfog here Nov. 18, he has yet to race beyond 6 1/2 furlongs on the dirt. Third, it's not like this spot came up soft. Among his rivals is stablemate R. Baggio, the co-highweight, as well as Walter Cluer winner Jila and the always competitive Milk Wood.

Grimm, however, remains the horse to beat. After a super winter here last year he was part of the favored entry along with R. Baggio in the Phoenix Gold Cup only to run a dull fifth after pressing a sizzling pace. Trainer Eric Kruljac gave him more than seven months off and the move paid dividends - Grimm was an easy winner of an optional claimer in his Oct. 27 return, then won the Patchy Groundfog three weeks ago.

He's ridden by Hoogie Drexler which is interesting because Scott Stevens, aboard for those two strong recent wins, ends up on stablemate R. Baggio. The two are not coupled in the wagering.

R. Baggio has shown he's capable of big efforts and has shown he ships well. He has performed solidly in Southern California and even tried Grade 2 and Grade 3 foes at Churchill and Arlington over the summer. He was freshened after a dull turf try at Ellis Park, but returned here Nov. 18 with a strong sprint win. It sets him up ideally for this.

The entry of Milk Wood and Jila form the main threat. Milk Wood has been consistent, though his last win came slightly more than a year ago. Jila, meanwhile, has been sharper lately. Before his Cluer win on the turf he romped going a mile on the dirt here Oct. 21.