06/09/2009 11:00PM

No clear-cut favorite in 12-horse Hawkeyes


The $70,000 Hawkeyes Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile race for Iowa-bred fillies and mares at Prairie Meadows, presents a difficult handicapping challenge. A hard-to-separate field of 12 will go to the post - and there could have been a few more.

"At one stage on Monday morning, it looked like we were going to have 14 in there," racing secretary Dan Doocy said. "Then, everyone quickly realized that we'd need more riders for a field that size than what we have."

The 4-1 morning line favorite is Friend O the Devil, who drew the outside post, which will make her task difficult. However, unlike many of her rivals, the 5-year-old Friend O the Devil has been in sparkling form this year, having won 3 of 6 starts.

Expected to vie for favoritism is Sakakawea, one of two 3-year-olds in the field. Sakakawea has won all three of her starts at Prairie Meadows, including the May 25 Bob Bryant Stakes by a nose. The Hawkeyes represents Sakakawea's first attempt at a route distance.

Leading trainer Kelly Von Hemel sends over a pair that add to the race's intrigue. Missmekissme, victorious in last year's Bob Bryant, has been on the shelf since a poor effort locally last July. It's My Day Toots, a 4-year-old filly by Five Star Day, tries to stretch her ample speed beyond six furlongs for the first time.