08/01/2013 4:03PM

Prairie Meadows: Interesting matchups on Iowa Classic Night


ALTOONA, Iowa – Prairie Meadows showcases Iowa-bred talent Saturday with its annual Iowa Classic Night, a series of seven divisional stakes worth over $500,000 in total prize money.

The $85,000-added Ralph Hayes, a 1 1/16-mile test for 4-year-olds and up, drew eight rivals and brings together an intriguing mix of battle-hardened veterans and improving sorts.

The old guard is led by the 6-year-olds Cainam, a deep closer, and Ice Hockey, an ultra-consistent runner who is always in the thick of the action.

Cainam, the 2011 Ralph Hayes champ, is reunited with jockey Terry Thompson, who managed to get his nose in front of fellow Ralph Hayes entrant Larrys Lost Legend on June 30. Despite a subpar campaign for Cainam under the care of trainer Jon Arnett, he is still capable if a solid early pace develops.

Ice Hockey, the 5-2 morning line favorite, is trained by the meet’s leading trainer, Chris Richard, and will be piloted by Ken Tohill. Ice Hockey will force or stalk the early pace before trying to grind out another Iowa-bred stakes win in the stretch.

The lightly raced Shamrock Edge, victorious in all three of his local starts in 2013, makes his stakes debut and is trained by Ray Tracy. He looked strong in his only route race, a 3 1/2-length allowance romp in sealed slop on June 14. Jockey Alex Birzer retains the mount.

None of the remaining five can be dismissed as Beware the Devil, Edgy Memorie, Freeze Your Kela, Seanjoebud, and Larrys Lost Legend are all in good form.

The co-featured Donna Reed, a mile and 70-yard race for older fillies and mares with an $85,000-added purse, is another wide-open affair, with defending champ Someplace Else and the determined sprinter Lonely Lover heading the field of 10.

The Kelly Von Hemel-trained Someplace Else, who has put in some stellar breezes here recently, must regain her 2012 sparkle following a dull try July 3, when she finished a well-beaten fifth while making a belated seasonal debut.

The Richard-trained Lonely Lover has done little wrong with four wins in her six starts, all sprints. Jockey Floyd Wethey has the assignment of nursing her speed around two turns for the first time.

Among the others, Rudy’s Edge drew the rail and could get brave if allowed her own way in front. Ginger Added has been more effective in sprints, but she has had an excellent season and is 7 for 15 lifetime.

Praire Cougar is likely to run in this spot over the Iowa Classic Sprint, according to her trainer, Ray Tracy. She landed the outside post and must carry her tactical speed farther than ever before.

Lauren’s Powerplay and Haforuhaforme, a pair of Richard-trained juvenile fillies who cruised to easy debut wins here, look like a formidable entry in the $75,000-added, six-furlong Iowa Sorority.

In the $75,000-added Iowa Cradle, the 2-year-old gelding Boji Moon, also conditioned by Richard, could get more of a test than in his July 6 debut, which he won by 11 3/4 lengths. Fellow undefeated runners Never Hide, Ooey Gooey, and Magic and More give this the look of an outstanding renewal.

The $75,000-added Iowa Breeders’ Oaks, contested at a mile and 70 yards, drew 10 3-year-old fillies. Sunset Illusion, I Tour, and Cat Five’ O are likely to vie for favoritism.

The Kelly Von Hemel-trained Oh My Gravy is steadily improving and is the horse to beat in $75,000-added Iowa Breeders’ Derby, a 1 1/16-mile test for 3-year-olds. He makes his stakes debut on Saturday.

Richard stablemates You Funny Me and defending champ Cresco Direct Hit square off against each other and six other rivals in the $70,000-added, six-furlong Iowa Classic Sprint.

The Iowa Sorority, with its scheduled post of 7:25 p.m. Central, kicks off the string of seven consecutive stakes on Iowa Classic Night.