03/24/2011 3:53PM

Fonner Park: Neither defending champion likely to be favored


GRAND ISLAND, Neb. – Both the Orphan Kist Stakes and the Ogataul Stakes, the $25,000, six-furlong co-features on Saturday at Fonner Park, will feature two-time defending champions – and it’s likely neither will be the favorite.

Two-time Ogataul winner Skwhirl returns in the race for older Nebraska-breds and will likely take second billing to Reach One More, a winner in 11 of his 14 career starts.

Skwhirl, trained by Bob Rising, scored a $41.20 upset in this race in 2009, then returned to successfully defend his title last year at a less surprising $11.80. Skwhirl, an 8-year-old, has bankrolled more than $138,000 from a record of 7-7-15 from 58 starts. He rallied mildly when fourth against open allowance company here March 12 while making his second start of year and should be running late.

Reach One More, a 5-year-old, has been nothing short of remarkable during his career. Trained by Chuck Turco, Reach One More has been to the winner’s circle 12 times but was subsequently disqualified from the purse in the $82,000 Iowa Stallion Stakes at Prairie Meadows in 2009. His only loss in 2010 came when he finished second to Shadowbdancing in the $75,000 Bosselman/Gus Fonner Stakes.

Reach One More opened his campaign by taking the $25,000 Budweiser-Tondi Stakes here by a hard-fought neck with five horses finishing within a length. With Jordan Olesiak in the irons, Reach One More should rule a heavy favorite.

Two-time Orphan Kist winner Dazzling Seville trained by Robert Hoffman, is also likely to be overlooked in favor of a Turco runner, Lou Lou Larue.

Lou Lou Larue, a 4-year-old full sister to Reach One More, won her debut here March 5, surging clear in the half-mile Bold Accent Stakes for her sixth career win from nine starts. Lou Lou Larue has made her all of her career starts against stakes company and is the likely favorite in a field of nine statebred fillies and mares.

Gracie Jane, a multiple stakes winner trained by Jim Cranwell, should also receive support at the windows off her fast-closing third against open allowance company in her seasonal debut here March 12. Gracie Jane won the Al Swihart Memorial Stakes here last year.