The 1 3/8 distance is daunting to most horses but eight will give it a try in the $25,000 Wildcat Handicap on Saturday at Turf Paradise.
The Wildcat, which is the traditional prep for closing day’s 1 7/8 Hasta La Vista Handicap, will be run on the turf course. Also on the eight-race card is the $35,000 Arizona Stallion Stakes which attracted a field of 10 Arizona breds for the 7 ½ furlong grass test.
Only one the eight entrants has attempted the distance and that is Sir Searsucker who is a perfect two-for-two. Trained by Dan McFarlane, who won this race last year with Az Ridge, will be ridden by David Lopez for the first time. The 6-year-old by Shakespeare by the Irish bred Theatrical, is bred to run all day.
Leading trainer Robertino Diodoro has entered three: Congrats Seattle, Carouse and Blue Bomber.
Congrats Seattle is two-for-two over the greensward in his last two allowance victories at 1 1/16 miles. Carouse has won three of four turf starts, two at 7 ½ furlongs and one at 1 1/16 miles. And Blue Bomber has finished in the money in five of 10 grass efforts but has yet to notch a win locally.
Pacific Nights has won five of nine turf efforts locally for trainer Lisa Gangidino. His most recent grass score was at 7 ½ furlongs, February 28.
The Joe Toye turf specialist Thunder has won three races this meet with two of those wins coming over the turf.
Arizona Stallion Stakes
McFarlane his won this race twice in the last three runnings. This year he’ll send forth Sondrio who initial turf effort looked promising until jockey Chas Clark fell off while on the lead after being bumped.
Hey Ez Money broke his maiden at first asking at Emerald Down, then followed with a subpar effort as the favorite in allowance company. Although he has not raced since August of last year, his pedigree, Ez Dreamer by In Excess (IRE), suggests he should take to the turf.
Lieutenant Margie, one of three fillies entered, is another with a fashionable turf pedigree whose grandsire is Storm Cat.
Heber is the only entrant with a turf win which occurred February 20 against $20,000 claiming company.
Robertino Diodoro showed why he’s the leading trainer and why Mercedes Stables is such a powerful force by sweeping both the $25,000 Scottsdale Handicap and $25,000 Tempe Handicap Saturday at Turf Paradise.
In a battle of Diodoro stablemates, Malibu Kash ($7.80) claimed a wire-to-wire, half-length victory over Hymn’s Girl with 4/5 favorite Joan of Arch third another 2 ¼ lengths back in the scratched-reduced field of five 3-year-old fillies.
Owned by Mercedes Stables LLC and ridden by Daniel Vergara, Malibu Kash covered the one mile over firm turf in 1:38.0. The Kentucky bred earned $16.368 for her second career win and first stakes victory to have earnings of $29,316.
Diodoro came right back in the Tempe, again for Mercedes Stables with Gunfire ($10.40) getting the head bob in a four-horse photo-finish with Senator Robert second a nose in front of Ready Intaglio third in the field of ten 3-year-olds.
In scoring his first stakes win, Gunfire raced the one mile turf in 1:37.70 while increasing his bankroll to $37,477.
Two highly competitive stakes, the $25,000 Scottsdale and $25,000 Tempe Handicaps, will be featured Saturday at Turf Paradise.
The Scottsdale is for 3-year-olds while the Tempe is for 3-year-old fillies. Both races will be run at one mile on the turf course.
In addition, Saturday is Wiener Mania Day. The extensively cute Wiener Dogs will be racing throughout the afternoon in the family picnic area. The event raises money for the Arizona Greyhound Adoption Foundation.
The Scottsdale Handicap
The stakes drew a field of seven fillies dominated by the Roberto Diodoro triple entry of Malibu Kash, She Spends My Lute and Hymn’s Girl.
Malibu Kash is coming off a third place finish in the Arizona Oaks. She Spends My Lute recently broke her maiden at stakes distance at one mile on the turf. And Hymn’s Girl, a fourth in the Arizona Oaks, broke her maiden two starts back at 7 ½ furlongs on the grass.
The Molly Pearson-trained Joan of Arch, is a perfect two-for-two over the local lawn and just missed victory by a half-length to the undefeated Protective Shield in the Arizona Oaks. Joan of Arch won the Valid Leader Stakes January 25.
The X Factor is Santa Anita shipper and previous English racer the French bred Compel. A winner of two races in Great Britain, Compel finished sixth in her US debut at Santa Anita, January 15.
The Temper Handicap
In this field of 11, all eyes will be on the Dan McFarlane-trained Nightly News, clear winner of the Turf Paradise Derby, February 20. The son of Misremembered, who broke his maiden by 10 ½ lengths, January 20, will be making his first start on the grass. His breeding suggests he will adjust to the lawn, given his grandsire Candy Ride, was a multiple stakes winner in his native Argentina and the US on both dirt and grass.
Nightly News’ stablemate, Titanium Point, impressed in his maiden win February 10, winning as the favorite by 13 ¼ lengths.
Circus Ride, also by Candy Ride, is looking for his third consecutive win as he two-turns for the first time on his first attempt on grass for trainer Cindy Kramer.
Heber has been a model of consistency having been in the money in six of nine outings with two victories, including his last win and first go on the grass February 15 for trainer Don Schnell.
Arizona Moon, winner of the Lost in the Fog Juvenile Stakes, has been in the money in three-for-three turf efforts for trainer Stacy Campo.
Leading trainer Diodoro will send out Gunfire, a son of Tapit, who finished second to Nightly News in the Turf Paradise Derby.