02/20/2008 12:00AM

Fonner Park: Grasmick time again


The second weekend of the season around Fonner Park always seems to bring up the name of Leaping Plum, as it is hard to mention the Grasmick Stakes without bringing up the horse who won it seven consecutive times. In all, Leaping Plum won 15 stakes over this five-eighths-mile oval, more than any other horse.

Slowly closing in on his mark is Tonight Rainbow, a 9-year-old gelding who has won eight Fonner stakes. He is expected to return for his sixth consecutive appearance in the Grasmick, a race he won in 2004, 2006, and 2007.

Combined, Leaping Plum and Tonight Rainbow have won the Grasmick each year since 1995, with the exception of 2002 and 2005. Leaping Plum gained a bit of national acclaim when he won this race from 1995 through 2001. In 2002, Leaping Plum tasted Grasmick defeat for the first time at the hands of R C Mr Hay Boy. He bounced back for his eighth Grasmick win the following year, then lost to Tonight Rainbow in 2004 as a 13-year-old in his final career race.

Should trainer Boyd Caster ship in Tonight Rainbow for Saturday's Grasmick, the horse appears ready. Tonight Rainbow worked a bullet three furlongs in 34.60 seconds at Will Rogers Downs, his current base, over a good track on Feb. 9.

Tonight Rainbow's other Fonner Park stakes wins include the Budweiser-Tondi Stakes twice, and the Dowd Mile, Baxter, and Bachman Stakes.

* Fonner Park will again be the focus of two radio shows this year, with announcer Steve Anderson hosting "Inside the Winner's Circle," with live interviews from the press box on weekday mornings over local stations. "Race Day Weekly," which enters its third year with a new host, Mark Saldecki, will be broadcast live from the press box during the races on Saturdays. The show brings live coverage of the day's races and interviews on KRGI and affiliated radio stations.