04/22/2009 11:00PM

White Spar meets King Justin again in Grand Canyon


PHOENIX - The local product is celebrated at Turf Paradise with Saturday's Arizona-bred Day. Five stakes grace an 11-race program for statebreds.

The $50,000 Sandra Hall Grand Canyon Handicap (race 6) may be the linchpin of the program, as the six-furlong event for 3-year-olds and up features established sprinters White Spar and King Justin in the field of seven, as well as up-and-comer Hidden Character.

White Spar, owned and bred by Arizona stalwart Dennis Weir and trained by Kevin Lewis, was the top 3-year-old sprinter on this circuit in 2008, winning 5 of 8 starts, including this race last year over King Justin. White Spar looked poised to be the top sprinter this year but has had a rocky start. After a huge win in the Cactus Wren in the mud Dec. 20 that earned a 104 Beyer, he was fifth after a troubled start in the G Malleah on Jan. 24 and a dull 11th in the Phoenix Gold Cup on Feb. 14. Lewis has regrouped with White Spar, a 4-year-old gelded son of Benton Creek who has worked splendidly the past month or so, including two bullets (1:12.60 on March 15, 1:13.20 on April 14). Moving back in against statebreds only can help.

King Justin gave White Spar fits in last year's race, and the 8-year-old may be ready to do so again. After a couple of modest races at Golden Gate 11 months ago, he wasn't seen again until this April 6, when he returned to be third in the Answer Do, a grass sprint.

Hidden Character, a 4-year-old gelding owned by E E Dotte Ranch and trained by Wade Rarick, is unbeaten in two starts. He debuted here March 15 and romped by 13 1/4 lengths for an 87 Beyer. In his first try against winners here March 31, he stalked, took over, and drew off to win by 2 3/4 lengths for a 79 Beyer.

In the day's other stakes action:

* Arizona's Golden, a winner of two straight including her March 28 return here after five months on the bench, leads a field of seven 3-year-old fillies in the $50,000 Joanne Dye Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs (race 3). Racetrack Barbie, a strong allowance winner here April 2, and Towson, a 13 3/4-length maiden winner April 19, loom as factors.

* Ez Dreamer, who nearly won a couple of Grade 3 turf routes at Hollywood Park last summer, returns to Arizona after nine months on vacation as the likely favorite in the $50,000 Dwight Patterson Handicap (race 5). Ez Dreamer, who won the Arizona Breeders' Derby by nine lengths on this card a year ago, heads a field of seven in the 1 1/16-mile turf race, including El Mirage, winner of his only turf start, the Tempe Handicap on this course 13 months ago.

* Beacon Falls and Social Order clash in the $50,000 Ann Owens Distaff Handicap (race 8). The six-furlong event for fillies and mares, 3 years old and up, drew a field of eight. Beacon Falls ran third in this race last year and comes off two runner-up finishes in open stakes this meet. Social Order ran fourth against the boys in the Dwight Patterson on this card a year ago. She was second in an optional claiming dirt sprint here April 5.

* One Call looks to establish himself as the top 3-year-old Arizona-bred router regardless of surface as a field of nine goes 1 1/16 miles on the main track in the $40,000 Arizona Breeders' Derby (race 10). One Call was third in the Tempe Handicap on grass here March 14 and won the Capt. Billy Boogie on turf here April 5. He won his maiden on this main track.

Frisky Risky likewise comes here with strong turf form, having won two of his last three, all on grass. He was seventh (One Call was third) in the Tempe before leading all the way to win the Arizona Stallion Stakes on April 4. Like One Call, he's a winner on dirt here.