01/12/2005 12:00AM

Turf Paradise track report


It was only fitting that Turf Paradise rename a stakes in honor of Cotton Fitzsimmons, the former NBA coach and executive with the Phoenix Suns, who regularly held court at his table in the track's turf club. Fitzsimmons, a Phoenix-area icon, died at age 72 last July 24 of complications from cancer.

The $50,000 Cotton Fitzsimmons Mile, formerly named the Paradise Mile, was won last Saturday by the suddenly hot Grimm. Trained by Eric Kruljac, Grimm ran the mile on firm turf in 1:36.66. Ridden by Scott Stevens, Grimm jumped out to the lead, controlled the pace, and held on for his second straight stakes win. Just a couple of weekends prior, he won the Cactus Wren Handicap on the dirt.

Grimm's ability to go at least this far on the turf makes him a player for the $100,000 Turf Paradise BC Handicap on Feb. 12 at 1 1/16 miles. But this day belonged to Fitzsimmons.

"We wanted to put Cotton's name on one of our more prestigious stakes races," said track marketing director Vince Francia.

Before the race, track announcer Luke Kruytbosch read a tribute to the coach.

"We want to do this with dignity and respect, because he was a friend to us," Francia said.

* Turf Paradise is now accepting superfecta wagering on every race on its Friday, Monday, and Tuesday programs.

* V'ville Lady may be the hottest horse on the grounds after she rattled off her fourth straight win here Tuesday. Rider Joel Campbell has been aboard V'ville Lady for all four wins.

"I'd like to ride 15 of them just like her," said Campbell. "She's a tiny thing; weighs maybe 600 pounds. But she's all heart. All guts."

V'ville Lady ($3.20) covered the mile on yielding turf in 1:38.15.