04/10/2003 12:00AM

Turf Paradise track report


PHOENIX - After being claimed for $12,500 last summer at Fairplex, Debonair Joe began an ascent that brought him into the ranks of the sprinting elite on the West Coast.

He has found staying there a tougher matter, however, so now Debonair Joe ships to Turf Paradise for Saturday's $23,000 Zany Tactics in an effort to get back on track. The six-furlong stakes has lured a field of eight, but Debonair Joe figures dominant.

Trainer Juan Pablo Silva claimed Debonair Joe, a 4-year-old gelding, last summer at Fairplex out of a fifth-place effort. Silva raised Debonair Joe in class to a $32,000 claimer Oct. 10 and he won at 27-1. He beat $40,000 optional claimers at Golden Gate Nov. 8, then really went through the roof, winning the Grade 3 Vernon Underwood at 52-1 at Hollywood Park, and Santa Anita's Grade 1 Malibu Stakes at 26-1 in December.

Since then, Debonair Joe has finished sixth in the Sunshine Millions Sprint, fourth in the Ken Maddy, and fourth last out in the Grade 2 Potrero Grande. The class drop Saturday is significant, but Debonair Joe is a deep closer who is often at the mercy of pace and traffic. He will be ridden by Scott Stevens, and will be a heavy favorite.

There is a strong local contingent in the Zany Tactics. Flying Supercon, third in the Phoenix Gold Cup March 8 and second in the Answer Do March 28, has plenty of speed and likes this track - he's 5 for 9 here. Flying Supercon, trained by Dan Morgan, drew the rail.

Irish Cream Taffy has never beaten this quality of opposition, but he finished second in both the Honor the Hero and Jim Powell, and he comes here sharp for trainer Dan McFarlane following two optional claiming wins.

Heightenedinterest comes off a win in the Answer Do. The Answer Do was his second race following a couple months off, and he could be fitter for the Zany Tactics.