04/23/2008 11:00PM

Up from Florida, Wayzata Bay deserves nod


GRAND ISLAND, Neb. - Despite having its purse reduced from $100,000 - its level for the last 18 years - to $75,000, Saturday's Bosselman/Gus Fonner Stakes at Fonner Park has drawn a solid cast.

The race has drawn two out-of-state runners who will be sternly challenged by a strong local group. Iowa-based Wayzata Bay has been installed as the well-deserving morning-line favorite.

Wayzata Bay, trained by Judi Hicklin, is coming off a winter campaign in Florida where he most recently won the $65,000 Challenger Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on March 8. Hicklin moved her stable to Prairie Meadows earlier this month and she will bring in Tim Doocy to ride from post 5.

Wayzata Bay has a stalking style that should serve him well in Saturday's field of nine. A career earner of over $368,000, Wayzata Bay won the Prairie Meadows Handicap in Iowa and the Minneapolis Stakes at Canterbury Park last summer.

Habaneros ships in from Iowa for trainer Ray Tracy and is coming off a closing second in $16,000 claiming company at Fair Grounds on March 22. Habaneros has the benefit of experience over this five-furlong track. In 2006 he ran second to Tonight Rainbow in the Dowd Mile, then finished fourth in the Bosselman.

Ken Shino will be in to ride from post 9.

Yield to the Storm, a 4-year-old making just his second start, may play the role of pacesetter. Out of the graded-stakes-winning mare Cindy's Hero, Yield to the Storm didn't make the races while in training in California last year with David Hofmans. But he was a handy winner of his career debut going six furlongs here on March 29.

He came back last weekend with a five-furlong breeze in 59.80 seconds, one of the fastest works here this year. Leading trainer David Anderson sends out the homebred Yield to the Storm for owners Tom and Elizabeth Baxter.

Joining him on the lead perhaps will be Persepolis and Okie Dozer. Persepolis, an import from Turf Paradise for trainer Monty Luark, won his first start here going 6 1/2 furlongs on April 13 in $15,000 claiming company.

Okie Dozer, who arrived from Hawthorne in March, was second to Bevys Best in the Budweiser/Tondi Stakes. He returned in the Dowd Mile as the 4-5 favorite but settled for third behind Blumin Attitude and Hot Chocolate, both of whom he faces again here on Saturday.