04/23/2008 12:00AM

Crimson King Kat returns strong

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Crimson King Kat, who had established himself as the top Iowa-bred 3-year-old of last year before knee surgery ended a promising campaign, indicated that he's going to be a force this summer in the older Iowa-bred ranks when he finished second to the top local sprinter Wild L on opening weekend.

Crimson King Kat, who last year won the Gray's Lake and placed in two other stakes, has never been worse than second in 10 lifetime starts. Trainer Kelly Von Hemel will point him toward the $65,000 John Wayne Stakes on May 17.

Scott Pope, who owns and operates the Crimson King Farm along with his wife, Alison, believes that Crimson King Kat will be better around two turns than one.

"In the long run, he's going to be better going long, and along with that in mind, Kelly has set the $70,000 Cyclones Handicap as Crimson King Kat's main goal."

The Cyclones will be run June 14 at 1 1/16 miles.