07/19/2006 11:00PM

At long last, stakes action begins at Fairmount


With nearly two-thirds of the meet in the books, and having seen only a sprinkling of overnight handicaps, fans at Fairmount Park are understandably hungry for some stakes action.

After one stakes was canceled last month due to a lack of entries, an appetizer of sorts will finally be served Saturday in the form of the $40,000 Bungalow Handicap for Illinois-bred fillies and mares at one mile and 70 yards. The Bungalow launches the Fairmount stakes program, which is highlighted this year by the $250,000 St. Louis Derby on Aug. 26.

Seven were entered in the Bungalow, and the top contenders are a well-balanced group. The 2005 Bungalow winner, Lady Riss, is back, and joining her this year are Ms. Lydonia and Capistrano, both of whom have won or placed in stakes on the Chicago circuit this year.

If there is a queen of Fairmount Park, Lady Riss may well be it. She has won 10 of her 14 starts locally, with four second-place finishes. She seeks to snap a seven-race losing streak stretching back to last summer.

Ms. Lydonia enters the Bungalow off a win in Arlington's Lincoln Heritage Handicap on the turf, a surface she has come to prefer. Capistrano, on the other hand, has done her best work on the dirt. Stakes-placed at Hawthorne in April, Capistrano more recently earned competitive Beyer Speed Figures in a pair of stakes at Prairie Meadows.

Completing the field are Defuhr, Trout River Red, Princess Paster, and Paddle's Big Girl.

Great Lakes: Trio from Bennett

Deb's Favoite Gift, second in the Larkspur Handicap to stablemate Bucky's Prayer, is the likely favorite for the $50,000 Moonbeam Handicap at Great Lakes Downs.

The Moonbeam, which drew a full field of 10 Michigan-bred fillies and mares, will be contested at one mile as the seventh race on a card that starts at 6:30 p.m. Eastern. Skydivers from the nearby Muskegon Air Fair will perform.

With the absence of Bucky's Prayer, who was second in the J J'sdream Stakes at Arlington Park last Sunday, Deb's Favoite Gift is the powerhouse of a Gerald Bennett-trained trio. She is coupled with Musical Factor because both are owned by Thomas Vanderhyde. Gold Ginny, who was third in the Bennett sweep of the Larkspur Handicap, will run for owner Elizabeth Weber as a separate entry.

A past champion at Great Lakes, the 5-year-old Deb's Favoite Gift is the 119-pound highweight and will be ridden by leading rider Terry Houghton. She sports a 6-7-2 record from 20 starts locally.

Gold Ginny, the second choice on the morning line at 7-2, made a late bid to be third in the Larkspur after a five-month layoff. Freddie Mata, just back at the track after sustaining a broken leg in February, will be in the irons.

- C.A. Shoemaker

Prairie Meadows: Filly tests males

The undefeated filly Seekingthereinbow and the gelding Okie Time, both trained by Kelly Von Hemel, head a field of six 3-year-olds entered in the $60,000 Iowa Stallion Stakes at Prairie Meadows.

Seekingthereinbow goes for her sixth straight victory when she faces males for the first time in the mile and 70-yard Iowa Stallion. Seekingthereinbow, a front-running daughter of Mutakddim, has won her five starts by a combined 22 lengths. Her most recent start was her first around two turns and she scored a gate-to-wire 2 1/2-length win in the Northbound Pride going 1 1/16 miles over a sloppy track at Canterbury Park on June 24.

Prior to the Northbound Pride, Seekingthereinbow scored an easy 3 1/4-length victory locally in the six-furlong Bob Bryant Stakes against Iowa-breds on May 27.

Perry Compton has a return call aboard Seekingthereinbow.

Okie Time may be the one to beat, based on his Beyer Speed Figures. In his last four starts, Okie Time has earned Beyers between 79 and 87. All four of those Beyers are higher than the best figure any other starter in Saturday's field has earned.

In his most recent start, Okie Time dueled to the stretch before weakening to finish fourth, beaten six lengths, in the Prairie Mile on June 10. Okie Time has a career record of 2-1-0 from 5 starts. Jockey Tim Doocy has a return call on Okie Time, who figures to be close to the pace.

- Dave Basler

Solano: Owner goes for repeat

Owner Jerry Jamgotchian is taking a different route as he bids to win his second straight $40,000 Fairfield Stakes at the Solano County Fair.

Jamgotchian won last year's edition of the six-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies with Luck and Fame, whom he had just claimed for $32,000.

This year, he sends up Yessiremychickadee, a $19,000 Ocala purchase last year, who has won 2 of 3 starts. She won her career debut at Santa Anita on March 10, followed it up with an allowance victory at Hollywood Park, and lost by a nose in an optional claimer at Hollywood last month.

If she wins the Fairfield, Yessiremychickadee will probably do it the same way Luck and Fame did - wire to wire.

Although she lost by a nose to the older Fire Bolt in her last start, Yessiremychickadee turned in her best race. She set a pressured pace or 22.02 seconds and 44.78 before losing in the last stride in 1:10.54.

Left in Yessiremychickadee's wake in her last race was the 2005 Barretts Debutante winner, Catch My Fancy.

Devons Smokin won the CTBA Stakes at Del Mar last summer and the U.S. Bank at Emerald Downs this year. She has run third in two stakes since then.

- Chuck Dybdal