06/22/2013 3:24PM

Prairie Meadows: Delaunay the star of Iowa Festival opening night

Barbara D. Livingston
Delaunay has been on a roll and comes off a smashing victory in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes

ALTOONA, Iowa – The June 28-29 Iowa Festival of Racing, comprised of six open stakes races worth more than $1,000,000 in total purses, gets under way Friday at Prairie Meadows.

Headlining the first evening of the Festival and its trio of listed stakes is Delaunay, one of the nation’s top sprinters, in the $125,000 Iowa Sprint Handicap.

Delaunay, trained at Churchill Downs by Tom Amoss for Prairie Meadows’ leading owner and Des Moines resident Maggi Moss, has reeled off six straight six wins, including a four-length victory in his last start, the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes on the Kentucky Derby undercard. Jockey Rosie Napravnik is making her initial visit to the Altoona oval to retain the mount.

Four rivals, led by the lightly raced speedball Gentlemen’s Bet, will oppose Delaunay. Gentlemen’s Bet, who will be ridden by Robby Albarado, blitzed a May 17 Churchill Downs allowance field by 5 3/4 lengths and covered six furlongs in 1:07.90.

The steadily improving Jasizzle, second by a neck in Churchill’s Grade 3 Aristides on June 1, makes the trek from his Lexington, Ky., base for trainer Tommy Mills. Accomplished locals Credit Report and City Sage will try to make the best of their home court advantage in the six-furlong test.

The $100,000 Saylorville, a six-furlong race for fillies and mares, will see the return of its 2011 winner, Beat the Blues. A 6-year-old mare, victorious last out in Churchill’s Grade 3 Winning Colors, she will be accompanied by regular rider Miguel Mena for trainer Bret Calhoun.

The Saylorville drew a field of six. Other notables include stakes winners Devious Intent and Lulu Wong, another speedster owned by Moss, who dusted her rivals by 3 3/4 lengths in the May 24 Prairie Rose, the Saylorville’s local prep. The improving Livi Makenzie, trained by Moquett, enters off a career-best two-length tally in a May 16 Churchill allowance sprint.

Seven fillies and mares will start in the $100,000 Iowa Distaff at 1 1/16 miles.

Flashy American, making her stakes debut for trainer Kenny McPeek, and Magic Hour, winner of Tampa’s Wayward Lass in her last start on March 16, will vie for favoritism. Readying for the rise in class, Flashy American impressed in her June 6, when she cruised to a 3 1/4-length win. Magic Hour represents trainer Ian Wilkes and owner Janis Whitham, connections of 2012 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap and Breeders Cup Classic winner Fort Larned. She will arrive fresh and sharp.

Locally based Itsabeautifulthing, Cruzette, and Queen Lilly Kay, along with Oklahoma-based closer Miss Hockaday and Canterbury Park pace stalker Lava Girl will aim for an upset.