04/27/2006 12:00AM

Habaneros set for peak effort in Bosselman

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Habaneros should be sharper in his second start following a long layoff when a field of eight meet Saturday in Fonner Park's showcase event, the $100,000 Bosselman/Gus Fonner Stakes.

For the first time in several years a defending champion or past Bosselman winner will not be present in the field, but the top four finishers from the Dowd Mile, the local prep for this 1 1/16-mile race, return for a shot at one of only two $100,000 purses in Nebraska all year.

Habaneros found himself boxed in through the far turn of the Dowd while making his first start since last November. He closed well once clear to finish second, beaten two lengths, and should be a deserving favorite on Saturday. Trainer Ray Tracy will van Habaneros over from Prairie Meadows for the race and brings in Cindy Murphy to ride from post 5.

Habaneros has not won since taking the Grade 3 Carleton F. Burke Handicap at Santa Anita in 2004. His strongest performance last year came in the Grade 2 Cornhusker Breeders' Cup at Prairie Meadows when he was fourth, beaten a neck.

Tonight Rainbow, a winner of three stakes here this year, is in the best form of his career. Normally a sprinter, Tonight Rainbow collected his first career victory at a mile in the Dowd but must prove he can go a sixteenth farther on Saturday.

Tonight Rainbow was a strong third in this race two years ago, then fell upon hard times as a 6-year-old last year when a poor blood count kept him from running up to par. Trainer Boyd Caster has brought Tonight Rainbow back to the form that made him this meet's horse of the year in 2004, as well as champion sprinter in 2003 and 2004. Larren Delorme will be aboard when Tonight Rainbow breaks from post 1.

Trainer Mike Biehler will bring out Wally's Choice for his seasonal debut. A Minnesota-bred son of Quick Cut, Wally's Choice won 4 of 11 starts a year ago and is at his best going 1 1/16 miles. Ken Shino will be in to ride from post 6.

Stormy Business, trained by Larry Donlin, drew the outside post. He finished third in the Dowd after being hung widest of all through the first and second turns, losing a considerable amount of ground, then could not put together his final closing bid and was beaten 3 3/4 lengths. R.D. Williams will again ride.