06/25/2008 11:00PM

Delightful Kiss attempts an Iowa double


ALTOONA Iowa – Prairie Meadows’s signature race, the Grade 2, $300,000 Cornhusker Handicap, will close out the Iowa Festival of Racing on Saturday night, and while this year’s field may not have a horse with the potential of the 2004 winner, Roses in May, it does have the makings of a great betting race.

Roses in May went on to win the Whitney and Kentucky Cup Classic after his Cornhusker victory, and he also finished second in that year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic and won the Dubai World Cup the next year. Saturday’s 1 1/8-mile Cornhusker has drawn a field of eight, including Zanjero, who has been assigned top weight of 119 pounds, and Delightful Kiss, who will attempt to become the first horse to win the Iowa Derby as a 3-year-old and return the next year to capture the Cornhusker.

Zanjero, trained by Steve Asmussen, has been a model of consistency and has finished worse than third only twice in his 15 starts. His biggest scores last year came in the West Virginia and Indiana derbies, with his only off-the-board finish coming when he was 12th in the Kentucky Derby.

“Other than the Kentucky Derby, where he had traffic trouble most of the way, Zanjero always is right there,” said Scott Blasi, assistant trainer to Asmussen.

In his two starts this year, Zanjero has finished second in the Texas Mile and Lone Star Park Handicap.

Delightful Kiss won last year’s Grade 2 Ohio Derby and then displayed a powerful stretch run to take the Iowa Derby. Last seen finishing seventh two weeks ago in the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs, Delightful Kiss may have an opportunity to mow them down late.

Owner Maggi Moss claimed Temporary Saint for $50,000 last fall at Keeneland. A son of Awesome Again, Temporary Saint has since won Grade 3 Excelsior at Aqueduct and finished fourth in the Pimilco Special. Moss, an Iowan, has brought in horses she claimed before to win Festival races. Bruce Levine trains Temporary Saint.

Fairbanks will be making his fifth start of the year and is still in search of his first score of 2008. His second-place effort in last year’s Suburban Handicap would likely be good enough to win this race, and it appears his form is headed in the right direction. Fairbanks, trained by Todd Pletcher, has finished second this year in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap and the Grade 3 Hartack Memorial at Hawthorne.