09/15/2009 11:00PM

It's 2-year-olds times two at Prairie


ALTOONA, Iowa - Prairie Meadows winds down its 2009 season this weekend with four stakes. On Friday evening, the juveniles come to the fore in a pair of $50,000 stakes, the Freshman and the Debutante, which is restricted to fillies. Both events are at six furlongs.

Without question, the Freshman is more wide open. Eight were entered but Chicago-based Perfect Drive will stay at home, according to his trainer, Steve Hobby. The race matches the best Iowa-bred juveniles against some talented shippers.

Of the local contingent, the Iowa-breds Cainam and Launch Light appear to fit nicely. Launch Light returns after a professional 1 3/4-length victory versus statebreds in the Aug. 29 Iowa Cradle here. Cainam had a disastrous trip in the Cradle, as he ducked sharply into the gap, causing Wild for Glory to unseat his rider. Somehow, Cainam recovered and rallied to finish third, although he was disqualified.

Cainam drew the rail for the Freshman, and trainer Lynn Chleborad is hopeful he will behave himself this time.

"He has never done anything like that," she said, referring to the antics of his last race. "The rider tapped him on the right shoulder just after the start and I think that may have been the problem."

Always Wildcatin', the probable favorite from Steve Asmussen's Woodbine-based string, and Uh Oh Bango both have tactical speed and have placed in stakes versus open company. The Mike Natale-trained Kentucky Thumbs Up looked like a bright prospect when winning a maiden race here July 4 by 6 1/4 lengths.

The Debutante, which has a field of seven, has a standout in Vertical Vision, also trained by Asmussen. Sixth in the Ontario Debutante over the Polytrack at Woodbine, Vertical Vision cruised by five lengths in the Prairie Gold Lassie on the dirt here on July 18. The Tony Reinstedler-trained Prospector Queen, an undefeated daughter of Pioneering, has the best chance at an upset.