03/29/2006 12:00AM

Turf Paradise track report

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Mr Playwright was beaten just a head and neck in last Saturday's $40,000 Tempe Handicap, but rider O.A. Martinez Jr. felt lucky to get that close.

"Mr Playwright ran his race in the warm-ups," said Martinez. "He was washed out and misbehaving in the gate, something he's never done before."

The lone filly in the field, Nezi O, set an honest pace for the boys, zipping six furlongs in 1:10 before ducking in at the eighth pole and losing momentum. Ragin Nonno inherited the lead and was able to maintain a head advantage over Sans Serif, with Mr Playwright another neck back in third in the field of 11 3-year-olds.

Claimed for $8,000 by trainer Manuel Uriza on Dec. 19, Mr Playwright won his subsequent start, an allowance race, before stepping up into the Tempe.

"In hindsight I probably should have jogged him on race day," said Uriza. "He was a little on edge."

Uriza, 30, will next travel to his hometown, Mexico City, for the $100,000 Handicap de Las Americas May 27. Uriza will send out 7-year-old Resident Rogue, a son of 1982 Travers winner Runaway Groom, in the 1 1/4-mile race.

"This is one of Mexico's most important races," he said. "It would be nice to win it since I'm from there."