02/13/2003 12:00AM

Turf Paradise track report


PHOENIX, Ariz. - How competitive is the $50,000 Coyote Handicap at Turf Paradise? The weight spread from top to bottom among the 11 contestants is a mere four pounds, 121-117, and one of the horses who has been at or near the top of the Phoenix pecking order the last few seasons, Hangonslewpyhangon, is one of the 117-pound lightweights.

With the likes of Hangonslewpyhangon in the twilight of his career, the six-furlong Coyote might produce a changing of the guard. Veterans such as No Cal Bread, Ex Post Facto, Classy Sheikh, Iza Redhead, and Hangonslewpyhangon might make their presence felt and are capable of producing a big run.

But it is apparent that a new group of young horses is ready to take over. And the prospect of an off track after successive days of rain only adds to the confusion.

Flying Supercon, from the Dan Morgan barn, comes into the race as one of the sharpest sprinters on the grounds. Owned by Don and Gary Silvers, he has won five of seven career starts, including three of his last four. He won the Swift here Jan. 25 and the Honor the Hero on Dec. 17. A 4-year-old, Flying Supercon has steadily moved up the Beyer Speed Figure ladder, too. His Swift win earned him a 95 Beyer.

Still, Flying Supercon doesn't leave himself much margin for error. His last three wins came by a head, neck, and nose. In fact, he was only a nose ahead of his Saturday foe Ex Post Facto in the Swift, with Classy Sheikh less than another length behind. And on Jan. 5, in the Jim Powell Memorial, he was a non-threatening fourth, beaten by Saturday foes No Cal Bread and Expert.

Flying Supercon carries high weight of 121 pounds with rider Miguel Hernandez, and off his hot recent form might be the favorite.

Another 4-year-old, Grimm, comes into the Coyote on a three-race winning streak. He won his maiden by 12-plus lengths in November, stepped up and defeated allowance foes, and then on Jan. 4 won the Cactus Wren - a sprint restricted to Arizona-breds. In the Cactus Wren, he easily defeated a much more seasoned Ex Post Facto easily. Dave Patton rides Grimm, who is trained by Eric Kruljac.

Perhaps the most interesting entrant is Del Chiaro. He invades from Southern California, having recently finished fifth in a highly rated turf sprint at Santa Anita. He worked strongly over this track - three furlongs in 35.80 seconds on Monday. His only victory over winners, however, came in a turf sprint.