04/21/2004 11:00PM

Dusty Spike ready to defend title

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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. - Dusty Spike drew the rail for his attempt to repeat last year's victory in the $100,000 Bosselman/Gus Fonner Stakes on Saturday, the showcase event of the year at Fonner Park. The race drew a field of nine and is run at 1 1/16 miles.

Dusty Spike's chief rival in the race may be Sonic West, who won the Grade 3 Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn, a race in which Dusty Spike was fourth.

Dusty Spike collected three wins last year, including both of the state's $100,000 races. Following his Bosselman/Gus Fonner victory in April, Dusty Spike made the trip to Horsemen's Park, where he won the Omaha Handicap. He became the first horse to win both races in one year. Trained by Mark Lee and owned by Raymond William Deiter, Dusty Spike finished the year with a victory in the Marshland Stakes at Delta Downs and earnings of over $157,000. Kerry Kretzer will again be aboard Saturday.

Sonic West comes to Nebraska off a fourth to Peace Rules in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap earlier this month. Trained by Tom Van Berg, Sonic West won the Governors Handicap at Ellis Park and the Fall Stakes and Mountaineer Mile handicaps in West Virginia last year. He was a 2 3/4-length winner of the Razorback in his first start this year. Willie Martinez will be in to ride from post 2.

Both Dusty Spike and Sonic West run from a bit off the pace. The pace scenario should play into their hands, with the likes of Death Trappe, Big Glori, Novel T Dreamer, and Tonight Rainbow expected to show early speed.

Colorful Tour has shown the ability to rate or go to the front for trainer Noel Hickey. In his last race, Colorful Tour rallied to contention in a mile allowance at Oaklawn, but failed to sustain the bid and settled for third in his second start of the year. He'll be ridden by Perry Compton from post 6.

Ramon Gonzalez will send out the uncoupled entry of Novel T Dreamer, who breaks from post 3 with Perry Whetstone aboard, and Dalt's Kingpin, who breaks from post 4 with R.D. Williams aboard. Both invade from Sunland Park.

In his last race, Novel T Dreamer set the pace for just under a mile in the 1 1/8-mile Sunland Park Handicap before fading to sixth.