05/03/2012 12:24PM

Fonner Park: Ruby's Big Band logical favorite in closing-day Al Swihart Memorial


Ruby’s Big Band should rule a strong favorite in the $25,000 Al Swihart Memorial Stakes for older fillies and mares going 6 1/2 furlongs in the closing-day feature at Fonner Park on Saturday.

Ruby’s Big Band comes off a 1 3/4-length win in the JEH Stallion Station Stakes at Lone Star Park. That win on April 14 came at the same distance as the Swihart and should set her up for a top effort in front of an anticipated large Kentucky Derby Day crowd to close out the local season.

Trained by Charles Smith, 5-year-old Ruby’s Big Band has banked $272,449 in earnings from a career mark of 12-4-7 in 37 starts. She won the Pepsi Stakes here in 2010 and has always run well over this five-eighths of a mile oval. Larren Delorme has the mount.

Brian Roberts will send out the entry of Sookie’s Kookies and Spice Swirl and may represent the local hopes of upsetting the favorite. Sookie’s Kookies captured the Runza Stakes on April 7 while Spice Swirl was fifth that day, beaten just 2 3/4 lengths. The pair have taken turns defeating each other this year with Spice Swirl taking the Orphan Kist Stakes by a half-length over her stablemate on March 24.

Leading trainer Chuck Turco sends out Gibson Crystal. Gibson Crystal was fourth, beaten 1 1/4 lengths in the Runza after dueling on the lead through the turn and into the stretch that day. She is 2 for 3 at the distance.

◗ In the $10,000 Coors starter allowance, the longest race of the meet at 1 1/8 miles, Turco sends out Kentucky Mile off a dominating 10-length win going 1 1/16 miles locally on April 20 against $5,000 claimers.