03/13/2010 12:00AM

Twin Sparks looking vulnerable


PHOENIX - It was just a few months ago that Twin Sparks won the Caballos del Sol at Turf Paradise and set a world record for six furlongs of 1:06.49. But that fact hardly scared away the opposition for Monday's $25,000 Coyote Handicap as 12 others have signed on to take a swing at Twin Sparks in the 6 1/2-furlong race.

The reason? Some of the shine has come off Twin Sparks, who enters off a seventh-place finish as the 7-5 favorite in the Phoenix Gold Cup.

Owned by Bobbie Parsons and trained by Karl Myers, the 7-year-old Twin Sparks had been solid throughout his career but had never shown anything like his performance in the Caballos del Sol here Nov. 21, when he romped by 11 1/2 lengths and earned a 106 Beyer. He followed it up with a tally here in the Swift on Jan. 2, earning a 98 Beyer Figure. He had to work hard in that race, dueling every step and prevailing by a length. In the Phoenix Gold Cup, he stalked the pace and then gave way under Ry Eikleberry, who keeps the call on Monday.

Among Twin Sparks's opponents Monday are Goin Dancin, Highland Games, and Yankee Bravo.

Goin Dancin stalked the pace in the Gold Cup and stayed on for second behind Ez Dreamer, surely the best horse on this circuit. Trained by Nicole Davis, Goin Dancin has the speed to keep Twin Sparks in his sights. He easily won this race last year, beating Twin Sparks back into third. Regular rider Daniel Vergara stays aboard Monday.

Highland Games continues to knock on the door this meet and may be ready to break through. He came back from a layoff and finished seventh behind Twin Sparks and Goin Dancin (third) in the Caballos del Sol, then ran second in the Hank Mills Sr. Handicap, a tough optional claimer, and the Cotton Fitzsimmons Handicap, beaten a nose, a nose, and a head. In the Phoenix Gold Cup, Highland Games stalked the pace and finished third. Regular rider Miguel Hernandez keeps the call.

Yankee Bravo ran 10th in the 2008 Preakness behind Big Brown, and has seen a number of layoffs since. His last race was encouraging. Yankee Bravo, making his first start for Mike Chambers, charged to the lead in midstretch before settling for third in the Turf Paradise Handicap on turf here Feb. 13.