07/28/2005 12:00AM

Entry formidable in Prairie 'Cap


The entry of Silver Axe and defending champion Tricky Mocha loom a short price against five rivals in Saturday's $75,000 Prairie Meadows Handicap.

Silver Axe is the 119-pound starting highweight in the 1 1/8-mile race and the one to beat, based on his last two starts at Prairie Meadows. On May 30, Silver Axe rallied to score a three-quarter-length victory in the Jim Rasmussen Memorial at 1 1/16 miles, recording a career-high 101 Beyer Speed Figure.

Silver Axe topped that effort in his most recent start, turning in the most impressive performance of his 55-race career by rallying from last at the top of the stretch to finish second, beaten just a head, in the Grade 2 Cornhusker Breeders' Cup Handicap at the same 1 1/8-mile distance as Saturday's stakes.

Owner Maggi Moss claimed Silver Axe on March 3 at Fair Grounds and turned the training duties over to Tom Amoss. Moss's local trainer, Dick Clark, will have his first recorded start as Silver Axe's trainer on Saturday, although Silver Axe has run out of Clark's barn in each of his last two starts.

An 8-year-old gelding, Silver Axe sports a record of 10-11-10 from 55 starts, good for more than $585,000 in earnings. Glenn Corbett, the meet's leading rider, picks up the mount. Silver Axe spots his six rivals from three to six pounds.

Tricky Mocha, also owned by Moss and trained by Clark, was an upset gate-to-wire winner of this race last year and lends support to the entry, although he is winless in nine starts since then.

Tricky Mocha has won 15 races in his career and sports earnings of $364,269. Joel Campbell will ride.

Minnesota-bred Wally's Choice may have the best chance of pulling an upset. In his most recent start, Wally's Choice rallied to score a half-length win over statebreds in the Blairs Cove Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on turf at Canterbury Park.

Wally's Choice was 9-5 when he finished fifth in the Rasmussen after making a bid on the final turn to be beaten 3 1/4 lengths by Silver Axe.

Trainer Mike Biehler has given Ken Shino the call on Wally's Choice, a winner of 9 of his 19 career starts.