03/23/2006 12:00AM

Cookin's Cast, Expectant Diva meet again


Cookin's Cast and Expectant Diva, who finished one-two in a recent allowance at Sam Houston Race Park, will be rematched Saturday night in the $40,000 Houston Ladies. The seven-furlong race is restricted to fillies and mares bred in Texas.

Cookin's Cast and Expectant Diva met over six furlongs in a Feb. 25 allowance, with Cookin's Cast winning by 1 3/4 lengths in a strong time of 1:11.60. Cookin's Cast stalked the pace in that race and should like the additional distance Saturday; she rallied for third going one mile in the $75,000 Martanza at Sam Houston in November.

Alan Love trains Cookin's Cast for his daughter Christie Love, and has given the mount to leading rider Quincy Hamilton.

Expectant Diva was making her first start since a November win in the $50,000 Yellow Rose over six furlongs when she rallied for second in the February allowance. She is 4 for 8 at Sam Houston. Trainer Randy Mayfield has given the mount to Bobby Walker Jr.

Millibar returns to dirt and cuts back to one turn for the Ladies. Her last win came over 5 1/2 furlongs on the main track at Sam Houston. She has worked well since finishing fourth last out in the $40,000 Tomball, and is likely to be closer to the pace than both Cookin's Cast and Expectant Diva. Trainer Michael Stidham has given the mount to Ted Gondron.

Dodd is another contender. She owns some of the field's highest Beyer Speed Figures and invades from Evangeline Downs for trainer Troy Young.

Fonner Park: Tonight Rainbow looks tough

Oklahoma-based Tonight Rainbow is the expected favorite among a field of 10 older horses for the $25,000 Tondi Stakes at Fonner Park.

The 7-year-old Tonight Rainbow, who won this race in 2003, made his 2006 debut at Fonner on Feb. 26, and was an impressive 5 1/2-length winner going a half-mile in the Grasmick Stakes. Based with trainer Boyd Caster at Will Rogers Downs, Tonight Rainbow tuned up for the Tondi with a strong 47.80-second breeze at Will Rogers on March 17. Larren Delorme again rides from post 5.

High Fleet, trained by Roland Schulz, comes into the Tondi off a late-running half-length win in the Ogataul Stakes on March 11. That was his first stakes score and he faces a tougher task here in his third start of the year. R.D. Williams rides from post 2.

Thundering Verzy, last year's older Nebraska-bred champion, set the pace in the Ogataul while making his 2006 debut, but came up empty and faded to fifth, beaten 2 1/2 lengths. He will benefit from having that race under his belt.

Loan Me a Fen could be a live longshot here. He rallied to finish second against Tonight Rainbow in the Grasmick and should be much more at home at the six-furlong distance of the Tondi.

The track is expected to be wet on Saturday following a spring blizzard last Monday that dumped 20-plus inches of snow over central Nebraska. The track crew worked at clearing the snow off the racing surface Wednesday afternoon, but temperatures in the low teens that night left the track frozen solid Thursday morning. The forecast calls for a slight warmup this weekend.

- Bill Hodtwalker