04/30/2008 11:00PM

Evening Reward can play spoiler


Evening Reward appears to be the biggest threat to halt the win streaks Middle Earth and Fearless Anthony bring into the $50,000 Route 66 Stakes at Will Rogers Downs.

The six-furlong race for 3-year-olds and up shares a program with the $50,000 Wilma Mankiller for fillies and mares at the same distance. Annie Savoy and Sweet Ambition are the top contenders in the Wilma Mankiller.

The races are the first Thoroughbred stakes to be run at Will Rogers since the track reopened for racing in 2006.

Evening Reward should get a favorable pace setup behind Middle Earth, a starter allowance horse who has won his last five races by a combined 42 lengths, and Fearless Anthony, who has won his last three starts by a total of eight lengths. Evening Reward will break to the outside of the two front-runners, from post 9 in the field of 10.

"He likes to come from off the pace," said his trainer, Dave Andis.

Evening Reward also takes a class drop after a close fourth last out in the Grade 3 Count Fleet at Oaklawn. The winner of the race, Semaphore Man, is one of the best sprinters in the Midwest, and Evening Reward finished 2 1/2 lengths behind him after a troubled trip on April 10.

"He ran good," said Andis. "Coming down the stretch, he got blocked and had to change course, and he's a big horse and it's kind of hard for a big horse to change directions that quick."

Evening Reward earned a career-best

96 Beyer Figure.

Sumfun, a multiple stakes winner, is another leading contender. He was an allowance winner at Lone Star Park in his last start April 13.

"Looking at those couple of speed horses that are in there, I would think we'd be in a stalking position," said Bret Calhoun, who trains Sumfun.