07/07/2002 12:00AM

Mr. John upsets Cornhusker

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ALTOONA, Iowa - Mr. John received a perfect stalking trip under Mark Guidry and rallied for a 2 1/4-length upset win in Saturday's Grade 3 Cornhusker Breeders' Cup Handicap at Prairie Meadows.

Mr. John, who added blinkers for the Cornhusker, broke alertly but settled off of Deferred Comp and Slider who hooked up in a speed duel through a half mile run in 46.61 seconds. Slider put away Deferred Comp and went clear entering the second turn of the 1 1/8-mile event.

Guidry sent Mr. John ($18.00) after the leader on the second turn and rallied to challenge entering the stretch, Mr. John and Slider dueled to the final furlong before Mr. John, a 4-year-old son of Golden Gear, drew clear late under a strong hand ride while covering the distance in a stakes record 1:47.07.

Unshaded who raced well off the pace to the stretch under jockey Jon Court, split horses late and finished strongly to gain the place, three-quarters of a length in front of Fajardo who made a strong five-wide run on the second turn before flattening out late.

Defending champion Euchre, who was sent off as the 2-1 favorite in the Cornhusker, was hard ridden to keep pace early under Jorge Chavez, he remained within striking range to the stretch but failed to rally after briefly lacking a clear path in midstretch, finished fifth beaten 3 1/2 lengths.

The victory was Mr. John's fifth in 10 career starts and his first stakes win. The $240,000 winner's share of the $400,000 purse more than doubled Mr. John's career earnings to $416,312. Elliott Walden trains Mr. John for owner Thomas Van Meter.

Minister's Baby up in time

Minister's Baby rallied strongly through the stretch and outfinished Caressing to score a hard fought nose victory in Saturday's co-featured $125,000 Iowa Distaff.

Craig Perret settled Minister's Baby well off the early pace set by Netherland who reeled off a fast first half mile in 45.72 seconds in the 1 1/16 mile Distaff.

Minister's Baby rallied in company with Caressing while racing four wide around the second turn, the pair collared Netherland leaving the furlong marker and dueled to the wire with Minister's Baby gamely prevailed under left handed urging.

Caressing, who added blinkers for the Distaff while making her second start in foal to Fusaichi Pegasus, finished two lengths clear of Netherland who was third.

The victory was Minister's Baby's sixth from 19 career starts. Ken McPeek took over the training of the 4-year-old daughter of Deputy Minister last fall and she has won four of her seven starts since for owner Lucky Seven Stable.

Minister's Baby returned $7.80 as the favorite in the ten horse Distaff field. The exacta was worth $34.60 and the trifecta paid $116.00.