07/15/2004 11:00PM

Omaha a replay of last year


OMAHA, Neb. - Dusty Spike, Tonight Rainbow, and Stormy Impact, the one-two-three finishers in the Omaha Handicap here a year ago, face off again in this year's renewal of the race on Sunday, closing day of the Horsemen's Park Summer Festival of Racing.

The $100,000 Omaha Handicap drew a field of 10 older runners. Dusty Spike, the defending champion in the mile race, was scheduled to arrive Friday afternoon by van from his base in Oklahoma and will start from post 9, the same spot he came from last year.

Trained by Mark Lee, Dusty Spike swept Nebraska's two $100,000 races last year by taking the Bosselman/

Gus Fonner Handicap in the spring at Fonner Park and the Omaha Handicap. This year Dusty Spike made his usual late run in the Bosselman but came up three-quarters of a length short of Crafty Shaw. He has since finished fifth in an allowance race over the turf at Lone Star Park and second in the Jim Rasmussen Memorial Stakes at Prairie Meadows. Kerry Kretzer will again ride Dusty Spike.

Tonight Rainbow was third in this year's Bosselman, then ventured to Canterbury Park, where he set a track record for five furlongs in a race that was taken off the turf. In his last start, he forced the pace before fading to fourth in the Minnesota HBPA Sprint Stakes. R.D. Williams will ride from post 3 for trainer Boyd Caster.

Stormy Impact returns to Nebraska from his base at Arlington Park. Stormy Impact was disqualified to third from his only win this year after coming out through the stretch in the Mister Gus Stakes at Arlington. Perry Compton has the mount from post 4.

Kodema, a multiple stakes winner this year, heads the list of newcomers to Omaha. He comes off a third in the Grade 3 Hanshin at Arlington Park on May 29. Kodema has registered stakes wins in the Delta Mile and Gulf Coast Classic Stakes over the six-furlong oval at Delta Downs, a track that should prepare him well for the five-furlong track here. Willie Martinez will ride from post 6.

* Sharing the card with the Omaha Handicap is the $27,500-added Skunktail Stakes for statebred 3-year-olds at a mile. Thundering Verzy returns off a tiring eighth in the Come Summer Stakes on the turf at Canterbury Park. He has dominated his statebred foes this year.

* Jitterbug Joy got an early jump on Sheso and never let go of the lead to register a 1 1/2-length win in the $30,400 Fantango Lady Stakes, Thursday's opening-day feature of the Summer Festival of Racing at Horsemen's Park.

An estimated 8,000 fans turned out for the opening day card under perfect racing conditions with temperatures in the mid-80's.