06/27/2009 12:00AM

My Pal Charlie seeks end to bad luck

Louis Hodges Jr.
My Pal Charlie, winner of the Super Derby last fall, is looking to end his losing streak in the Cornhusker.

My Pal Charlie's first bad break this year was landing lousy post 11 for the New Orleans Handicap 14 weeks ago. Lady Luck has not dealt a good card since. Maybe things will change Saturday night at Prairie Meadows in the Grade 2, $300,000 Cornhusker Handicap.

My Pal Charlie faces seven foes Saturday, compared to 11 in the May 25 Metropolitan Handicap. After stumbling badly at the start, My Pal Charlie could see most all of them, and his steady rally for a close fourth in that Grade 1 left his connections wondering, "What if?"

"He falls on his head and gets beat a length and a half," trainer Al Stall said. "Honestly, we thought he should've won."

Twenty-three days earlier, My Pal Charlie had hit the gate at the start of the Churchill Downs Handicap, finishing well for second behind mud-loving front-runner Accredit. The race before, My Pal Charlie got the wrong trip on Keeneland's Polytrack.

Now, My Pal Charlie stretches out to 1 1/8 miles after three one-turn tries, and that's the distance at which he won the Super Derby last fall.

"If he gets too eager on the front end, I think Robby can grab a good hold of him," Stall said.

That's Robby, as in Albarado, who rides My Pal Charlie for the first time. And My Pal Charlie would have to work hard to make the front, with all the other speed entered. Rail-drawn Stonehouse is a habitual front-runner, as is longshot Red Hot N Gold. Shadowbancing put up a 46.20-second half-mile on his way to a clear win in the local Cornhusker prep.

Jonesboro, 7, also used to lead early, but he has pressed and stalked in two fine performances this spring, the last a close second to It's a Bird in the Lone Star Park Handicap. Perhaps the more relaxed approach will help Jonesboro score his first nine-furlong win; he has been no better than third in five tries.

Locally based Wayzata Bay scored a 38-1 upset in the 2008 Cornhusker. He'll be a long price again and looks at least as unlikely this year.

But Secret Getaway merits attention. He was fourth to It's a Bird in the April 4 Oaklawn Handicap, but that race came three weeks after Secret Getaway had finished a strong second in the New Orleans Handicap. Secret Getaway was given one month's idle time after the Oaklawn loss, and he has been working steadily - and working well - for trainer Mike Stidham at Arlington Park. He has demonstrated his ability to show up at 1 1/8 miles.