04/26/2012 11:52AM

Turf Paradise: A Political Time tops Arizona-bred Day


PHOENIX – Turf Paradise puts the spotlight on the home-grown product Saturday, with five stakes for Arizona-breds, headed by the $50,000 Gene Fleming Breeders’ Derby. The 1 1/16-mile event for 3-year-olds, race 7 on the nine-race card, drew a field of eight, headed by multiple stakes winner A Political Time.

Owned by J. Lloyd Yother and trained by Kevin Eikleberry, A Political Time figures to go off a heavy favorite in the Gene Fleming Breeders’ Derby. That’s because the 3-year-old gelding by Top Hit has not only shown quality but versatility as well, though this race marks the farthest he’s raced.

A Political Time won the Arizona Breeders Futurity, a dirt sprint, here Nov. 26, and then after a layoff had a much-troubled trip in the Tempe Handicap at a mile on turf March 17. He was near the lead going to the far turn when he had to check hard, losing all his action. He faded to ninth. A Political Time bounced back well, however, to lead all the way and capture the 7 1/2-furlong Arizona Stallion Stakes on grass April 7.

His main foe figures to be Ten Ninety Seven. Trained by Jimmy Pickard, Ten Ninety Seven finished first on grass here March 5, only to be disqualified to third. He finished third behind A Political Time in the Arizona Stallion April 7.

In other stakes action on Saturday:

◗ Top Debutante carries high weight of 124 pounds and Vicky Baze as she leads a field of eight fillies and mares in the $35,000 Ann Owens Distaff Handicap (race 3) at six furlongs. Top Debutante, trained by Kory Owens, won the Joanne Dye here last spring and comes off a solid second routing at Golden Gate March 29.

◗ Salado Tribe appears the horse to beat in the $35,000 Dwight D. Patterson Handicap (race 4). A field of seven 3-year-olds and up is entered to go 1 1/16-miles on turf, with Salado Tribe the 122-pound highweight. Second in the Gene Fleming Breeders’ Derby on Arizona-bred Day here a year ago, Salado Tribe is 3 for 9 on grass, including a win here Feb. 2. He comes off a third-place finish to Edgerin J here March 30. The filly Sweetsomerwine, who has three wins on this course, will take a shot at the boys.

◗ The $35,000 Joanne Dye will mark the return of the remarkably quick filly Page Springs. A field of eight is entered in the 6 1/2-furlong event for 3-year-old fillies (race 6). Page Springs was the talk of the town much of last year, beginning her career with five straight daylight wins, two of them stakes wins here as well as a stakes win at Prairie Meadows. She was never headed at a margin call in any of those races. In the Arizona Breeders’ Futurity here Nov. 26, however, she blasted out to a nine-length lead and weakened in the lane to finish fourth. She’s worked strongly for trainer Dan McFarlane.

◗ Outta Town and Frisky Ricky bring two-race win streaks into the $35,000 Sandra Hall Grand Canyon Handicap (race 8). The six-furlong event for 3-year-olds and up drew a field of 10. Frisky Ricky is the 123-pound highweight after a win going 870 yards here April 3, and then an easy four-length win over some of his Saturday rivals here April 9. Outta Town, at 116 pounds, has seemingly turned the corner after three decent outings here this winter. He romped by 6 1/4 lengths March 5 and backed that up with a 5 1/2-length laugher for $4,000 here April 1.