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Turf Paradise: Tempe, Scottsdale bring together 3-year-old turf runners
PHOENIX – Saturday’s $35,000 Tempe Handicap at a mile on the grass at Turf Paradise may reveal a leader among the 3-year-old males in that division. The $35,000 Scottsdale Handicap, also at a mile on grass Saturday, will showcase the undisputed leader among 3-year-old turf fillies.
The Tempe (race 5) has a field of 10, and the Scottsdale (race 8) drew 12.
There’s little proven turf form in the Tempe, so the two who have run well on the surface – Dontmesswithkitten and Resist – appear the main protagonists. Dontmesswithkitten, owned by Henry Leong and trained by Cindy Krasner, is a son of grass champion Kitten’s Joy, so it’s no surprise he enjoys the turf. He easily beat maidens here in his only grass start Jan. 25. He was a game second, beaten a head by Saturday rival Mark, in a race washed off the turf here Feb. 9. Jorge Bourdieu rides.
Resist, owned by the Vegas Racing Team LLC and trained by Carl O’Callaghan, tried grass for the first time here March 11 in an allowance race at about 7 1/2 furlongs. He dueled on the lead before finishing third. Vicky Baze rides.
Mark’s victory over Dontmesswithkitten earned him a shot at the Turf Paradise Derby on Feb. 23, but he was never a factor, finishing fifth. He ran sixth in his only grass try.
I Stand Alone is the 121-pound highweight after competing in stakes on dirt in New Mexico. This is his first grass try, and he will break from the outside post. Master’s Bluff, a stakes winner sprinting on dirt at Emerald last year, came here Feb. 8 and easily won sprinting. This marks his first try on grass and first route.
Scottsdale: Agent Scully hard to beat
There is much less an issue as to the one to beat in the Scottsdale. Agent Scully, owned by Jim McFadyen and trained by Robertino Diodoro, has emerged as the top 3-year-old filly on the circuit, turf or dirt. She’s won three of her last four, including grass wins here Jan. 4 and Jan. 31. She was an overpowering 6 3/4-length winner of the Arizona Oaks on dirt here Feb. 23 and looms the heavy favorite in the Scottsdale. Nate Smith rides Agent Scully.
If Agent Scully is to be toppled, it could be Pine Ridge who does the job. Owned by the Sawyer Cattle Company and trained by Dan McFarlane, she failed to threaten in four straight dirt sprints here in the fall and winter. But she moved to turf Jan. 15 and blasted allowance foes by 3 1/4 lengths, so this may be her game. David Lopez rides.
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