05/26/2004 11:00PM

Dusty Spike faces on-the-rise rival

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ALTOONA, Iowa - Dusty Spike and the rapidly improving Perfect Ride head a field of 10, which includes numerous stakes winners, in Saturday's first running of the $50,000 Jim Rasmussen Memorial at Prairie Meadows.

Dusty Spike returns to the dirt Saturday after a failed try over the turf against allowance company two weeks ago at Lone Star Park. In his last main-track start, Dusty Spike finished a closing second, beaten three-quarters of a length in the $100,000 Bossleman Gus Fonner Handicap at Fonner Park April 24.

Dusty Spike is versatile, and jockey Kerry Kretzer should be able to place him wherever he wants in the 1 1/16-mile Rasmussen. Mark Lee trains Dusty Spike, who has six wins in 26 starts and $278,627 in earnings for his owner-breeder, Ray Deiter.

Perfect Ride is an interesting proposition on Saturday. A son of Cherokee Run, he was a two-time winner in 22 career starts who had yet to clear his first allowance condition at the beginning of 2004. Six months and three consecutive allowance victories in Kentucky later, each more impressive than the last, makes the Charles Lopresti-trained Perfect Ride appear ready to tackle stakes-level opposition.

In his most recent start, Perfect Ride rated just off the pace to the stretch and then drew off to a 7 1/2-length score in a three-other-than allowance at 1 1/16 miles on April 16 at Keeneland. Joe Johnson picks up the mount aboard Perfect Ride on Saturday.

Multiple stakes winners Take Me Up, Colorful Tour, Tempered Appeal, and Patton's Victory, each of whom has 10 or more career wins, help make the Rasmussen a competitive race.