06/04/2002 11:00PM

Nut N Better seeks repeat in Eisenhower


ALTOONA, Iowa - Nut N Better, Iowa-bred mare of the year in 2001, will face a strong field of six statebred fillies and mares when she attempts to defend her title in Friday's $60,000-added Mamie Eisenhower Stakes at Prairie Meadows.

Nut N Better, a 5-year-old daughter of Miracle Heights, made a successful return to the races from a 7 1/2-month layoff when she rallied through the stretch to get up by a nose against open allowance company here at six furlongs May 17.

The victory was especially satisfying to Nut N Better's connections as she contracted a severe case of pneumonia after her championship season and at one point her return to the races was very much in doubt.

The allowance win, which was Nut N Better's 14th from 26 career starts, also made her the richest Iowa-bred mare ever with more than $564,000 in earnings for her owner-breeders, Shady Bend Thoroughbreds. Trainer Fred Falldorf has named regular rider Kelly Murray on Nut N Better in the six-furlong Mamie Eisenhower. The pair teamed up for a one-length score in this race last year. Nut N Better will carry co-highweight of 123 pounds.

The Mamie Eisenhower is far from a one-horse race.

Sumthintotalkabout, who twice defeated Nut N Better in stakes races last year, is a major threat, although she enters the race off a dull fifth-place finish against open company in the Prairie Rose Stakes here last month. The front-running Sumthintotalkabout has won 9 of 20 career starts. Cindy Noll has the call for trainer Steve Hobby. Sumthintotalkabout will carry 123 pounds.

Trainer Mark Bader has a pair of strong entrants. Sharky's Review, Iowa-bred 3-year-old filly of the year in 2001, looks for her first win of the season in her fifth start. She most recently finished third against a tough allowance field here May 20.

Bader's other entrant, Trisha Runs, comes off an impressive 3 1/2-length upset score against open company in the $50,000 Prairie Rose Stakes here May 11. She covered the six furlongs in a rapid 1:09.54 over sloppy going. Trisha Runs has won 6 of her 11 career starts and is best when she makes an uncontested early lead. The Bader entrants will start uncoupled due to different ownership.

Also in the field is Lady Tamworth, the 2000 Iowa-bred mare of the year who finished second behind Nut N Better in this race last year. The 7-year-old Lady Tamworth held the title of richest Iowa-bred mare for several years until Nut N Better overtook her last month.

Lady Tamworth has yet to hit the board in five starts in 2002 and will need a much improved performance to be a factor on Saturday. Ken Shino has picked up the mount for trainer Ray Tracy.