03/31/2005 12:00AM

Virden one to beat off bad-trip second


Two things worked against Virden on March 13 in the Cactus Cup Handicap at Turf Paradise: Island Escape and trouble.

When Virden takes on nine runners in Saturday's $40,000 Scottsdale Handicap at Turf Paradise, Island Escape will not be there, and trainer Dan McFarlane hopes that trouble doesn't show up either in the mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies.

"She was blocked behind a wall of horses and couldn't find clear sailing," McFarlane said of Virden's second-place finish in the Cactus Cup. "She should have won that race."

Virden has been a model of consistency with five in-the-money finishes from as many starts, the last four stakes, including a hard-fought victory against She Sings in the Sun Devil Stakes. She Sings avenged that loss, defeating Virden by 10 lengths over a muddy track in the Arizona Oaks.

Virden's consistency is being rewarded, or penalized, depending on how you look at it. She carries high weight of 121 pounds, giving from four to seven pounds to her nine foes. She also races on turf for the first time, though being by a son of Storm Cat she could handle the surface. Virden worked a bullet five furlongs in 59 seconds here on March 26.

Joel Campbell has the call.

Leading rider Wilson Dieguez, who has ridden Virden in all five career starts, ends up on Stolen Gal.

The Joe Toye-trained Stolen Gal is a proven turf horse. She comes off a rallying win over this course at this distance against $12,500 claimers on March 14. She carries only 114 pounds because this much tougher assignment.

Santa Anita shippers, Lyndee's Pearl and Regal Boot are both maidens but have ability. Regal Boot (to carry 115 pounds) is owned by Everest Stables and trained by Marcelo Polanco; they have won four stakes at this meet, including the Turf Paradise Breeders' Cup (with Night Patrol) and Arizona Oaks (She Sings).

Lyndee's Pearl carries 116 pounds for her new trainer, Kevin Eikleberry.