01/13/2011 1:01PM

Veterans clash at Turf Paradise


PHOENIX – You don’t normally equate surging form with an 8-year-old gelding and a 7-year-old gelding. But Saturday’s $35,000 Cotton Fitzsimmons Handicap at Turf Paradise will provide a clash of two rejuvenated veterans, the 8-year-old Carnera and 7-year-old Green Secret. Those two lead a full field of 12 in the mile grass event, named for the former NBA head coach and executive who was a fixture in the Phoenix track’s Turf Club for many years before his death in 2004.

Carnera, owned by Three Sisters Thoroughbreds and trained by Mike Chambers, has held solid form the past couple seasons. The bulk of that has come against claimers but the one-time stakes horse hinted in recent months he’s ready to get back into deeper waters. Carnera whipped $16,000 claimers at Canterbury Park Aug. 15, and then looked even better romping by 4 1/4 lengths over $16,000 foes here Nov. 6.

Carnera has not raced since then but shows a string of solid works. Jake Barton, aboard for that big Nov. 6 win, keeps the call.

Chambers has trained Green Secret for much of the gelding’s career, although he now is trained by Pam Eikleberry. Green Secret has been on a tear since last March, winning six of his last seven including his last race, an optional claimer on this course Nov. 9. He was claimed that day by Eikleberry for $25,000. Ry Eikleberry has the call.

Yet another link to Chambers may actually be the horse to beat. California Soldier invades from California and makes his first start for Chambers after some sharp races for John Sadler. He’s raced on turf just once,finishing second at this distance at Del Mar last Aug. 27. He won and ran second in a pair of main-track races at Oak Tree at Hollywood Park in October.

Boundless Cat led all the way to win the Walter R. Cluer on this course Oct. 23. That’s his only grass try, and returning to this surface may help after a pair of dull main-track stakes tries.

Waltzing With Blue was third to Boundless Cat in the Cluer as the even-money favorite in his first try here. That was his first race in a couple months and he was very far back early and very wide. He’s worked strongly for this, including five furlongs in a bullet 57.80 at Santa Anita Jan. 5.