09/24/2003 11:00PM

Unyielding: The name says it all

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PHOENIX - So far Unyielding has been true to his name - especially when racing on the Turf Paradise dirt.

Unyielding has been a dynamo here, winning all four of his local main-track starts, and he is the horse to beat in Saturday's $35,000 Saguaro Stakes. The one-mile race for 3-year-olds lured a field of eight, but no matter how you look at it, this race seems to go through Unyielding.

Unyielding, who is trained by Jim Hill, has won 6 of 11 career starts. He cut his teeth in the summer of 2002 at Emerald Downs near Seattle, winning his debut then holding his own in three races against winners.

He then got four months off, and showed up here in January a new horse. He rattled off three straight wins, topped by a victory in the Palo Verde Handicap. Next out he tried a mile on the turf in the Tempe Handicap, his first try on the surface and routing. He was hardly disgraced, finishing fourth, beaten only a length.

Hill put him back on the main track and he responded, winning the Chuck N Luck at a mile here before shipping back to Emerald. There he won the Auburn and finished fourth as the even-money favorite in the Pepsi Cola Handicap May 26.

That was his last race, and he showed his readiness to return with a six-furlong work Sept. 14 at Emerald in 1:10.40.

At least four others appear threats to the favorite. Taraval ships in from northern California for trainer Greg Gilchrist. Last out he finished second by a head in the Earlene McCabe Derby at Sacramento.

Beckstein became the top 3-year-old at the Yavapai meet. Trained by Darrell Alvey, Beckstein didn't seem to be headed anywhere special, but in August he won a restricted claiming sprint there and then won the 1 1/16-mile Yavapai Derby at 11-1, defeating several of his Saturday foes.

The two horses who finished immediately behind Beckstein in the Yavapai Derby, Instantly and Icy Tobin, form a strong entry for trainer Lyman Rollins. They went off at 2-5 in the Yavapai Derby.