03/11/2009 11:00PM

The Nutz up against tough Bud-Tondi field

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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. - The Nutz, winner of last year's Bosselman/Gus Fonner Stakes here, makes his seasonal debut in a full field of 10 well-matched older horses in the $25,000 Budweiser-Tondi Stakes at six furlongs Saturday at Fonner Park.

The Bud-Tondi has drawn a strong field including the defending champion, Bevys Best; this year's Ogataul Stakes winner, Skwhirl; and a host of other runners with stakes experience.

The Nutz, trained by Steve Hall, has been off since July when he was narrowly beaten in the Omaha Stakes at Horsemen's Park, and should receive plenty of support at the windows. Following his Bosselman win last spring, The Nutz tried the turf at Canterbury Park, failing to fire against allowance company. He returned to Nebraska and captured an allowance race at Lincoln, then took the State Fair Board Stakes. He won 5 of his 7 starts last year while earning more than $80,000.

Bevys Best was a strong favorite in the Ogataul Stakes here on Feb. 28. He led to deep stretch, then was caught in the final jumps by Skwhirl. Bevys Best will again be coupled in the wagering with Mike's Pet for trainer Larry Staroscik. Mike's Pet was a troubled fourth in the Ogataul and will pose a threat with his off-the-pace running style.

The unknown factors are Blue Comin Thru and Plagiarist, also coupled in the wagering, from the barn of trainer Jim Meyaard. Both horses have been off since August, but before that they were competitive at Northlands Park in Canada. Plagiarist was meeting stakes and allowance company, while Blue Comin Thru had three wins against higher-priced claiming company.

* Co-featured on the 11-race card is the $10,000 Bachman Stakes for 3-year-olds at four furlongs. Wholelotta Richter will face Reach One More as an uncoupled entry for trainer David Anderson.

Both geldings are stakes winners and undefeated in their careers. Reach One More took the State Fair Futurity at Lincoln in his only start, while Wholelotta Richter was a maiden winner then won the Capitol City Futurity in his two starts, also at Lincoln.