01/18/2006 1:00AM

Turf Paradise track report


Strategically may not have won last week's Cotton Fitzsimmons Handicap, but he has excelled in ways that surprise even his trainer, Jerry Atkin. Strategically has won four of his last five starts, including three stakes.

"What I can tell you is, this is a really good race horse," said Atkin. "He can run on the lead or from behind; it doesn't matter. He keeps getting better and I'm more amazed at just how good he is."

Atkin claimed Strategically, now 6, for $12,500 in November 2004 for owner Mary Shoemaker. Since coming under Atkin's care, Strategically has won six races, including the Black Mountain Handicap on Dec. 10.

"Mary complimented me on what I've done with him after he won his last stakes," said Atkin. "I told her, 'The only thing I've done is lead him to the paddock.'"

Despite his second-place finish in the Fitzsimmons, Strategically will still be one of the favorites in the $75,000 Turf Paradise Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile turf event Feb. 11.

* Kresgeville may not get the same publicity as last year's horse of the meet, Muir Beach, but her connections had to feel pretty good about upsetting Muir Beach in last week's $40,000 Kachina Handicap.

Kresgeville led from start to finish to score a half-length win over Muir Beach, who was making her first start since August and was conceding five pounds to Kresgeville.

"I knew if we got the lead my horse would coast the distance," said jockey Jocelyne Kenny-Martin. "With Muir Beach coming off a long layoff, we had a chance."

Kresgeville could show up next in the $40,000 Glendale Handicap here Feb. 18. That race is at 1 1/16 miles on the turf, but Kresgeville already has a grass win to her credit. She had been sprinting exclusively until the Kachina, and now that she has shown she can route, trainer Lyman Rollins has more options with her.