03/10/2005 12:00AM

Fonner: Thundering Verzy still a star

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Thundering Verzy, the top Nebraska-bred 3-year-old colt last season, makes his seasonal debut for new connections when he heads a field of six in the $25,000 Ogataul Handicap for older statebreds at Fonner Park.

Thundering Verzy was claimed in his most recent start by owner Craig Wulf for $20,000 at Turf Paradise last December and was placed in the barn of trainer Dan Coughlin. He had a mark of 4-3-2 from 14 starts under trainer Phil Storms and earned more than $65,000. Thundering Verzy won the Fonner Park Special; the Journal Star and State Fair Breeders' Stakes at Lincoln; and the Labor Day Handicap at Columbus.

Thundering Verzy tuned up for this six-furlong race with a solid five furlongs in 1:01.65 on March 5. With most of the Coughlin's help looking on from the turn, Thundering Verzy and Curtis Kimes clicked off fractions of 25.31 seconds, 37.25, and 49.71, then galloped out in 1:14.85 for six furlongs while looking the part of a favorite for this race. Kimes will be in the saddle under top weight of 122 pounds from post 5.

Yankee Ruler also makes his seasonal bow after a 2004 campaign in which he won seven times against mostly claiming and starter allowance company. Trained by Ken Kirby, Yankee Ruler finished off a successful summer by returning from Canterbury Park to win $5,000 starter allowances at both Atokad and The Woodlands. Perry Compton will be aboard from post 3 under 114 pounds.