08/07/2002 11:00PM

Factors shift in favor of Miner's Prize


ALTOONA, Iowa - Miner's Prize heads a field of seven, which includes a Niall O'Callaghan-trained entry, in Saturday's $100,000 Prairie Meadows Handicap.

Miner's Prize, a 5-year-old gelded son of Miner's Mark, comes to Prairie Meadows off a fast-closing third-place finish in the Omaha Handicap at Horsemen's Park on July 21. He was beaten a length in that race by Catniro, who is also entered in Saturday's 1 1/8-mile race.

In the one-mile Omaha, Miner's Prize carried 125 pounds and made up five lengths through the short stretch of the five-eighths-mile oval. He drops three pounds off that race when he starts as the 122-pound highweight. He will also benefit from going an extra furlong and figures to get a lively early pace in front of him.

Forest Kaelin trains Miner's Prize, who has won 3 of his 7 starts this year, including the $100,000 Bosselman Handicap at Fonner Park in April. Overall, Miner's Prize sports a record of 8-5-8 from 44 starts and has $408,608 in earnings. Ken Shino has the mount for owner Mary Proctor.

Catniro was claimed for $40,000 by owner Robert Mitchell and trainer Randy Morse on June 30 from a turf race at Churchill Downs. The connections earned their money back and then some when the 5-year-old Catniro led throughout to score a half-length win in the $100,000 Omaha Handicap. Terry Thompson has a return call at 120, two pounds more than Catniro carried in Nebraska. O'Callaghan entered both Woodmoon and Frazee's Folly but is likely to only have one starter, as both of his horses are front-runners and Robby Albarado was named aboard both.

Frazee's Folly is the more accomplished of O'Callaghan's horses with six wins and earnings of more than $319,000. He enters off a last-place finish in a turf race but seems clearly more comfortable racing on the dirt.