03/30/2005 1:00AM

Fonner Park track report


Horsemen and fans alike will be watching with interest how the track plays for Friday's card following last Saturday's massive renovation of Fonner Park's surface. Racing was canceled last Friday after the fifth race because of slippery and unsafe conditions, the result of rain and snow that had saturated the track throughout the week. Thursday's card was conducted over a muddy surface, but the condition deteriorated, and the base was reported to have become inconsistent during Friday's card.

Fonner's track crew and local sand companies worked overtime on Saturday morning. The wet cushion was pushed to the outside fence, and dozens of loads of sand were spread in preparation for an afternoon racing card. With the track officially labeled good for Saturday's card, front-runners were aided in the early races, when most winners came from well out in the track. As the day wore on, the runners were able to move down closer to the rail, but the second half of the card was dominated by deep closers.

The track opened for training on Tuesday morning, and more than 50 horses were timed over a surface rated slow. The surface still was tiring with times for four furlongs of 53 seconds and slower the norm.

* Fonner park will offer a $5,000 guaranteed pick 5 pool on Saturday's 10-race card, which is highlighted by the $30,000 Dowd Mile Handicap. The guaranteed pool will be offered on the last five races of the card. The Dowd serves as a prep for the $100,000 Bosselman/Gus Fonner Handicap at 1 1/16 miles, to be run April 23.

Dusty Spike, the 2003 Bosselman winners, is among the 14 nominated for the Dowd Mile. He made his seasonal bow last week at Oaklawn Park where he caught a sloppy track and finished fifth against $62,500 optional claiming company. Our Best Man, owned by Monte Hehnke and Gene Graves, is expected to the starting highweight at 122 pounds. Lukfata Louis, a strong candidate for the sprinter of the year honors here, is also expected.