05/09/2013 4:49PM

Prairie Meadows: Moss has tough duo in John Wayne


With her crack sprinter Delaunay, a $40,000 claim last May 12  who has reeled off six straight stakes wins – including last Saturday’s Grade 2 Churchill Downs Handicap – headed for a freshening, owner Maggi Moss looks to dominate Saturday’s $70,000 John Wayne Stakes, a six-furlong sprint for Iowa-breds at Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa, with another pair of former claimers, Ice Hockey and Cresco Direct Hit.

Moss, currently ranked third in the country by wins and fifth in earnings, purchased Cresco Direct Hit out of a $7,500 claimer on May 11, 2010, and, among his six victories since, is a 1 1/2-length tally in last season’s John Wayne. Ice Hockey, taken for $12,500 on June 3, 2011, has 3 wins and 6 seconds since and is versatile in regards to distance.

Heading the opposition to Moss’s duo in the field of eight is Launch Light and Runaway Walkaway. Launch Light, a resident of Lynn Chleborad’s stable, ran a race full of promise, rallying to score in an April 27 Iowa-bred optional-claiming sprint by a head. Runaway Walkaway, trained for the first time this season by Ray Ashford, was beaten just a neck when third in that April 27 race after battling for the lead. He should benefit from that effort as he makes his second start of the year in the John Wayne.

The battle-hardened pair of Cainam, a winner of nine races at Prairie Meadows and $414,013 in earnings, and Wings of War, with seven local wins banking $289,651, will line up and, although respected, seem better around two turns these days.

Voodooville, the youngest member of the group at age 4, also is trained by Ashford and could sit an ideal trip stalking the pace. One Hundred Proof, making his 2013 debut for trainer Chris Hartman, also is a stakes winner on this surface and has trained well for his return.