02/08/2007 12:00AM

Victorina returns to Turf Paradise


The only other time Victorina visited Turf Paradise she put on a show. She invaded here for the Oct. 28 Ahwatukee Express and won in a romp, geared down. Other distaffers had to be pleased to see her return to her northern California base, but the 4-year-old filly returns – maybe even bigger and badder – for Saturday’s $45,000 Princess of Palms Handicap. The six-furlong event for fillies and mares, 4 years old and upward, lured a field seven.

Owned by Harry Aleo and trained by Greg Gilchrist, Victorina has been something of a national traveler. Since the start of 2006 she’s won stakes at Golden Gate, Hawthorne, Calder, and Turf Paradise. She was third in the Grade 3 Dogwood at Churchill Downs last June and comes here off a game second to Bai and Bai in the Muir Woods at Golden Gate on Jan. 6. That race was at 1 1/16 miles, and while Victorina handled it well, she almost certainly prefers this shorter trip – in seven tries at six furlongs, she has five wins and two seconds. Glenn Corbett, who rode her here last fall, has the mount again as the 123-pound highweight.

This doesn’t figure to be a walkover, however. Bully Bones has been freshened off a strong win in the Mesa Handicap on Dec. 23 for owner-trainer David La Croix. As a 2-year-old in December 2005, she invaded here from Southern California and won the Arizona Juvenile Filly Stakes by more than 10 lengths. Isais Enriquez comes in from Southern California for the mount.

Katy Smiles hasn’t run since last October when she was second, beaten just a head, in the Phoenix Stakes here. She’s been superb over this track – three wins and three seconds in her six local starts – and six of her eight career wins have come at this trip for owner Richard Galyen and trainer David Van Winkle.

The most intriguing entrant, however, is the white-hot Mirando. She got a half-year vacation last year and has come back in top form in four straight races here. After a second on Nov. 27 she beat $16,000 claimers Dec. 15, then romped over $12,500 claimers Jan. 8 and was claimed by current owner Les Blake and trainer Troy Bainum. Most recently she easily won the Shy Riannon on Jan. 30. This is surely a tougher task, but Mirando looks better than ever.