06/26/2006 11:00PM

Festival fields take shape

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Hot Storm, winning the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita in January, is a probably starter for Friday's Saylorville at six furlongs.

ALTOONA, Iowa - Graded stakes winners Congrats, Gouldings Green, and Master Command are expected to run in the Grade 2, $300,000 Cornhusker Breeders' Cup Handicap on Saturday at Prairie Meadows, the highlight of the Iowa Festival of Racing. The festival kicks off Friday and runs through Tuesday, closing day of the 45-day Thoroughbred meeting at Prairie Meadows.

The festival features eight stakes races to be run over the four racing days, with Sunday dark. Unlike previous years, when two stakes were run per day, this year's festival is weighted toward Friday and Saturday, with three six-figure stakes to be conducted on each of those nights.

The $250,000 Iowa Derby and the Grade 3, $200,000 Iowa Oaks are the co-features on the Friday night program. Among the probables for the derby is Blazing Sunset, who enters the 1 1/8-mile race off a front-running 1 3/4-length victory in the Alydar Stakes at Hollywood Park for trainer Doug O'Neill. Other probables include the Todd Pletcher-trained Circle the World, undefeated in two races, both sprints, and Spotsgone, the Jinks Fires trainee who dropped a neck decision in the Derby Trial at Churchill before capturing the Prairie Mile here June 10 in his most recent start.

The 1 1/16-mile Oaks field is expected to be headed by Grade 3 winner Baghdaria, who finished third in the Black-Eyed Susan last out for trainer Tom Amoss, and the multiple stakes winner Brownie Points, trained by Donnie Von Hemel.

The six-furlong, $100,000 Saylorville for fillies and mares will also be run Friday. Probables for the Saylorville include Hot Storm, winner of the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint for trainer Dallas Stewart in January at Santa Anita, and Red Lifesaver, a multiple stakes winner for trainer Steve Asmussen.

Saturday's 1 1/8-mile Cornhusker could have a full field of 14. Prairie Meadows racing secretary Dan Doocy said he had 12 confirmed starters as of Tuesday afternoon.

Also to be contested on Saturday is the six-furlong, $125,000 Iowa Sprint Handicap. Coach Jimi Lee, the race's two-time defending champion, may go off as the second choice in the wagering behind Bishop Court Hill, who captured the Grade 1 Carter Handicap in April for Pletcher.

Saturday's third stakes, the $125,000 Iowa Distaff Breeders' Cup at 1 1/16 miles, is shaping up with a short field. Defending champion Platinum Ballet and Capeside Lady, who won the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher Breeders' Cup Handicap last year, are among the probables for the Distaff.