11/16/2006 1:00AM

As usual, California shipper one to beat


PHOENIX - They have to beat a Southern California invader in Saturday's $40,000 Chandler Stakes at Turf Paradise - a familiar theme at stakes during this meet. Princess McLean, a winner on the hillside turf course at the Oak Tree meeting at Santa Anita last month, will be favored against nine opponents in the 7 1/2-furlong turf event for 3-year-old fillies.

A daughter of Scatmandu, Princess McLean had mixed results through the first part of her career in Southern California, though she did win a couple of dirt sprints. She tried turf for the first time Oct. 9 at Santa Anita. Princess McLean chased the pace against $50,000 claimers and finished sixth, beaten just two lengths at a hefty 53-1. She came back Oct. 27 at Santa Anita in a first-level allowance race for California-bred 3-year-old fillies on the hillside turf course, and won by a length after surviving a pace duel.

She meets tougher Saturday, and has to show she can carry her speed another turn and another furlong. Octavio Vergara has the mount.

Royal Cheer, another Southern California shipper, is a danger. She rallied to be fifth and fourth in a pair of turf routes at Santa Anita last month. Both races came against elders, so she should appreciate facing 3-year-olds only here. Mick Ruis rides Royal Cheer, who is a proven router.

Local hopes ride with Irish Ferry. Irish Ferry came here from Emerald Downs as a maiden and powered home to beat maidens by four lengths Oct. 17. She came back in a first-level allowance race here Oct. 28 at 7 1/2 furlongs on turf, and finished strongly to be second, beaten a neck. Her trainer, Joe Toye, is off to a hot start to the meet, having won with 8 of his first 27 starters.

Joel Campbell, aboard for those last two outings, has the return ride on Irish Ferry.