12/05/2002 1:00AM

Turf Paradise track report


PHOENIX - Lamartinique finished sixth last time out but lost by less than a length. It was the sixth straight time Lamartinique has performed well, and that consistency makes him the likely favorite in a field of 10 in the feature race at Turf Paradise on Saturday.

A one-mile turf allowance race with a purse of $13,400, the race takes the place of the Cactus Wren Handicap, which had been scheduled as the Saturday feature but failed to attract enough entries.

Lamartinique finished eighth, beaten 16 lengths, at Canterbury last spring in his debut, then lost his rider in both his next two starts. He improved dramatically once he was freshened and dropped in for a claiming price. He won his maiden here going a mile Oct. 13, then came right back to win his first try on turf against one-other-than allowance foes.

In his last start, for a $12,500 price here going 7 1/2 furlongs on the turf, Lamartinique was sluggish early but made a big move in midstretch. Trainer Molly Pearson claimed him out of that race. Lamartinique is sharp and proven over this course and distance.

Lamartinique's main rival figures to be Four Corners. Trained by Kevin Lewis, Four Corners was fourth in his only turf try, which came here in the Paradise Valley Handicap. He sprinted on the main track last time, and now goes back to two turns and turf.

Vernon Lodge and Timbers Two, both also-rans in the Paradise Valley Handicap, will appreciate the move down in class and has been effective on this course and at this distance.