05/30/2009 11:00PM

Native Ruler takes Prairie Express with wide move


A beautiful spring night attracted a large crowd to the Prairie Meadows apron to witness a pair of $50,000 stakes races, the Prairie Express and the Prairie Rose, both contested at six furlongs.

The Prairie Express, reduced to a field of four by the defection of six-furlong track record holder Coach Jimi Lee, was taken in convincing fashion by 3-10 favorite Native Ruler, who showed no ill effects from a foot injury that had sidelined him since winning Oaklawn Park's King Cotton Stakes on Jan. 31.

Patiently ridden by Israel Ocampo, Native Ruler swung five wide into the stretch and swept past his opponents to register a well-measured two-length victory. In the process, he clocked 1:08.96, the fastest time for the distance at the 22-day-old Thoroughbred meet.

Trained by Chris Richard for leading owner Maggi Moss, the 5-year-old horse by Elusive Quality banked $30,000 in winning his third consecutive stakes and eight of his last nine races on dirt surfaces. He looks set to defend his title in the Iowa Sprint Handicap on June 27.

Prairie Rose: Elusive Sparkle by a head

The Prairie Rose, featuring six fillies and mares, was a more difficult test to figure out and produced an exhilarating finish. Under a stylish ride from Terry Thompson, Elusive Sparkle, the 4-year-old half-sister to 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, was angled in approaching the sixteenth pole, surged through a gap between two rivals, and ran down the Don Von Hemel-trained Wings of an Angel.

Trained by Hall of Famer Carl Nafzger, who was on hand to saddle the Elusive Quality-sired filly, her winning margin was a head. Lindsey's Wish, who managed a four-wide rally in her return to sprinting, finished third, just a neck behind Wings of an Angel.

Elusive Sparkle, who scored in a maiden special weight on April 25 at Churchill Downs, made her stakes debut in the Prairie Rose. Collecting $30,000 for Jim Tafel LLC, she was sent off as the slight second choice in wagering behind Lindsey's Wish and returned $6.40.

The $100,000 Saylorville here June 26 could provide an enticing rematch for the top three finishers.