08/13/2008 12:00AM

Moon Odyssey one to beat in Van Berg


Moon Odyssey will face a field of seven in the Van Berg Derby on Friday night as Columbus rolls into the second half of its six-week season, which offers at least a pair of stakes races each weekend.

Moon Odyssey won his Nebraska debut by a head here in the Hall of Fame Stakes on Aug. 2 for trainer Milton Gaede. In that six-furlong race he was well off the early pace and then made a late run through the stretch to prevail in the closing yards. A winner of 4 of his 9 starts this year, Moon Odyssey has been running longer all year and should appreciate the mile and 70 yards of the Van Berg. He won back-to-back races at Prairie Meadows going a mile before his race here. Gaede haltered Moon Odyssey off a winning effort against $5,000 company on July 5.

Big Dog Daddy, trained by Mark Lemburg, rallied to be fourth, beaten just under four lengths, in the Hall of Fame and should also appreciate the longer distance of the Van Berg. He will have Luis Ranilla aboard.

Fancy Princess and Diamond Highway, a pair of invading fillies facing males, will both make their Nebraska debuts. Fancy Princess comes to the barn of David Anderson after facing allowance company at Prairie Meadows this summer. She has a pair of wins this year going a route and should provide a solid pace in this race. Diamond Highway was purchased privately and now comes to the barn of Kelli Martinez from Emerald Downs. She is seeking her first career victory.