03/25/2004 12:00AM

Fonner Park track report


GRAND ISLAND, Neb. - A strong field of eight will run in the $25,000 Budweiser-Tondi Handicap at six furlongs, the highlight of which might be the matchup between Tonight Rainbow, last year's horse of the meet, and Death Trappe.

In addition, two Oaklawn Park invaders, Abbi's Choice and Getaway Holme, will move their rivalry a few hundred miles to test the locals here at Fonner.

Tonight Rainbow opened his 2004 campaign here on Feb. 21 in the four-furlong Grasmick Handicap with a 1 1/4-length win. Death Trappe shipped in from Southern California early this year and dominated in the Ogataul Handicap against statebred foes. Tonight Rainbow and Death Trappe are confirmed front-runners and should be joined by Abbi's Choice and several others vying for the lead in the Tondi.

With all that early pace, the Tondi should play into hand of Getaway Holme, a closer that has split his two races at Oaklawn with Abbi's Choice. Trained by Kelly Von Hemel for the partnership of Larry Widman and Russell Hansen, Getaway Holme will have leading rider Perry Compton in the irons, and starts from post 6.

Abbi's Choice might be the speed of the speed in the Tondi and comes off consecutive wins at Oaklawn, for $25,000 and $40,000. His latest win, on March 10, came in the a lightning-fast time of 1:08.80 for six furlongs. Trainer Greg Frye will bring in Alex Birzer to ride from post 3.

Death Trappe, from the barn of Don Leifeld, was a 4 1/2-length winner in the Ogataul, running a meet-best time of 1:11 for six furlongs. Death Trappe had been running longer distances in Southern California and it will be up to jockey Armando Martinez to reserve Death Trappe's speed in a race in which he is unlikely to find a clear lead.

Tonight Rainbow is a confirmed horse for the course here, with a record of 6-1-1 from nine starts over Fonner's five-eighth-mile oval. This race will be a stiff challenge for Tonight Rainbow.