03/15/2012 11:44AM

Turf Paradise: Little turf experience in Tempe Handicap


PHOENIX – Saturday’s two mile grass stakes for 3-year-olds at Turf Paradise present different scenarios for handicappers. The $35,000 Tempe Handicap, for males, drew a competitive field of 12. The $35,000 Scottsdale Handicap, for fillies, drew a field of eight and has a heavy favorite in Lasso From El Paso.

In the Tempe, it’s not just a matter of the talent level top to bottom being fairly close – few in the field have much grass experience. Favoritism may fall to Makors Finale, who comes off a second in the Feb. 25 Turf Paradise Derby and a Feb. 3 allowance victory, both on the main track. Makors Finale did, however, show turf talent as he ran second, beaten a neck, in an allowance race on grass here Nov. 28. Wilson Dieguez rides Makors Finale at 121 pounds for trainer Valorie Lund.

Jake the Bachelor was a neck behind Makors Finale in the Nov.  28 grass race and then came back to easily beat optional claimers on this turf course Jan. 11. He moves back to turf after finishing fifth in Makors Finale’s Feb. 3 allowance win. Vicky Baze rides Jake the Bachelor at 118 pounds for trainer Molly Pearson.

The wildcard in the Tempe is Tequila Factor, who is a two-time stakes winner on grass, having won stakes at Louisiana Downs last summer and Retama in the fall. He even took a shot at the Grade  1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, though he was no factor and finished 14th and last. Tequila Factor comes off a fourth in the Riley Allison Futurity at Sunland on Dec. 30 and a fifth in the Borderland Derby there Feb. 25, both on the main track. He’s stuck with the outside post in the Tempe for trainer C.L. Wilson and gets Glenn Corbett to ride at 121 pounds.

In the Scottsdale, Lasso From El Paso appears to hold a significant class edge and is the only horse in the field with any turf experience.

Lasso From El Paso set a hot pace before finishing third to Indigo River on the hillside grass course at Santa Anita on Jan. 13. Making that effort look even better, Indigo River came right back to win again.

Lasso From El Paso, trained by J.J. Kruljac, won the Arizona Juvenile Filly here Dec. 26. After her good turf try, she returned here for the Feb. 25 Arizona Oaks, opened up a 12-length lead going down the backside and wound up second behind Regal Betty. She carries high weight of 123 pounds and rider Scott Stevens in the Scottsdale.

Giacomo Girl, a daughter of Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo, tries grass and routing for the first time. She is riding a two-race win streak, both dirt sprints here this winter.