07/01/2001 11:00PM

Bonapaw holds good hand in Iowa Sprint

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ALTOONA, Iowa - Bonapaw heads a strong field of six sprinters Wednesday at Prairie Meadows in the six-furlong, $150,000 Iowa Sprint Handicap, which also includes two former winners of the race.

The Sprint Handicap is part of a special 10-race Fourth of July evening program at the track.

Bonapaw, a 5-year-old gelded son of Sabona, has been off for two months since finishing a game second in the Grade 2 seven-furlong Lane's End Churchill Downs Handicap on May 5. In the Churchill Downs, Bonapaw battled on the lead after being bumped at the start and then dropped a tough half-length decision to Alannan.

In his previous start, Bonapaw scored an easy 4 3/4-length victory after leading throughout in the Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap at Oaklawn in April, covering the six-furlong distance in a rapid 1:08.18.

Bonapaw has a record of 10-6-0 from 22 starts for trainer Howard Alonzo. Gerard Melancon will be in from Lone Star Park to ride for owners James and Dennis Richard. Bonapaw will be the starting highweight at 119 pounds, spotting his five rivals from 4 to 12 pounds.

Salty Glance is the defending champion in the Sprint Handicap but has won only one of five starts since he won this race last year. That victory came in his most recent start, in the Tallahassee Stakes at Hialeah on May 12, so the 6-year-old gelding may be rounding back into top form for trainer Steve Standridge. Salty Glance will carry 115 pounds, including the meet's leading rider, Terry Thompson, who rode him to victory in this race last year.

Chindi won the Iowa Sprint Handicap in 1998 and is still going strong at the age of 7 for trainer Steve Hobby. A late-running son of El Prado, Chindi is winless in four starts this year but has finished no worse than fourth in any of those races, all of which were stakes. Chindi, whose last win came in the Grade 3 Ack Ack Handicap at Churchill last October, rallied to finish second behind Bonapaw in the Count Fleet in April.

Chindi's regular rider, Tim Doocy, will be in for the mount and no doubt will be hoping for a fast pace to set up Chindi's late move. Chindi has the most career victories in the field, 12, and also has the highest career earnings, totaling $660,000.

Sand Ridge is the top locally based horse in the Sprint Handicap. He enters the race off back-to-back stakes victories here for trainer Don Von Hemel. His most recent victory was in the June 2 Bob Feller Stakes.

Ken Shino, who has been aboard for both of Sand Ridge's wins here, will be in from Canterbury to ride.