04/23/2009 12:00AM

The Nutz perfect over the Fonner track


GRAND ISLAND, Neb. - After an eventful week leading up to Saturday's $75,000 Bosselman/Gus Fonner Stakes, a field of eight has been entered for the 1 1/16-mile showcase event of the meet.

The week started off on a down note when last year's runner-up, Wayzata Bay, was pulled from consideration on Tuesday. On Thursday, trainer Randy Morse entered multiple graded stakes winner Jonesboro in the race, along with his expected entrant, Prospective Kiss. Prospective Kiss arrived here earlier this week.

Jonesboro is cross-entered in the Texas Mile at Lone Star Park on Saturday and the chances of the horse arriving in Nebraska are slim. Jonesboro drew post 2, has Terry Thompson named to ride, and has been installed as the obvious 8-5 choice on the morning line.

Defending champion The Nutz is the sentimental choice in his Bosselman defense for trainer Steve Hall as the 5-year-old will seek his third straight win of the meet and sixth win over this oval in as many starts. The Nutz was all business in winning the local prep for this race, the Dowd Mile on April 4, when he dusted off a challenge at the quarter pole and was taken in hand through the final furlong. Regular rider Damon Leeds will be aboard the probable starting favorite from post 7.

The Nutz was a Cinderella story in this race last year. He won his maiden in March, won an entry-level allowance in his following start, then took on Wayzata Bay, Habaneros, and a host of more experienced horses in his 25-1 Bosselman victory.

Prospective Kiss appears the main threat off his past stakes experience, although the 8-year-old will be making his first start in stakes company since last fall. Prospective Kiss earned more than $107,000 last year and won the Brooks Fields Stakes at Canterbury Park. He was stakes- placed in three other races in Minnesota. Tommy Molina will be in to ride from post 8.

Budge Man, trained by Kellyn Gorder for the local connections of Mary McKee's Whispering Pines, will make his first start since last fall's Grade 2 Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park. Budge Man made a big run to contend on the far turn of that race but was forced to check and faded to seventh behind Tin Cup Chalice and Pyro. Budge Man worked April 18 at Keeneland, going a half-mile in 49 seconds. He will have leading rider Jesus Ponce aboard.