05/28/2011 1:54PM

Prairie Meadows: Native Ruler a standout

Jeff Coady/Coady Photography
Native Ruler, with Terry Thompson riding, wins the King Cotton.

ALTOONA, Iowa – The Prairie Meadows march towards the June 24-25 Iowa Festival of Racing continues Memorial Day evening with a pair of six-furlong stakes, the $60,000 Prairie Express and the $60,000 Prairie Rose.

MEMORIAL DAY RACING: Stakes schedule, contender replays, and news updates »

The Prairie Express, for the male sprinters, drew a select field of five led by the consummate professional Native Ruler, who will be making his first local start of the year for 2010-11 Fair Grounds leading owner Maggi Moss. The 7-year-old son of Elusive Quality, Native Ruler is a winner of 15 of 35 lifetime for earnings of $581,696 and 5 of 8 locally, including the 2008 Iowa Sprint Handicap, and he continues to excel as trainer Chris Richard’s stable star. He has been installed as the 9-5 morning line favorite.

Kajiwara, a talented Churchill Downs shipper from Steve Asmussen’s stable, makes his stakes debut following a promising May 14 allowance score by 3 1/4 lengths over five furlongs in the Louisville track’s slop. Kajiwara should have company on the front end from Wiredfortwotwenty, a 6-year-old gelded speedster who hails from red-hot trainer Bart Hone’s shed row. On Feb. 19, Wiredfortwotwenty won the $75,000 Phoenix Gold Cup Handicap at Turf Paradise by a convincing 5 1/4 lengths.

Trainer Chris Hartman – whose 9-year-old gelding Ducky Drake broke the 5 1/2-furlong track record here Friday night when stopping the clock in 1:02.26 – will start deep closer Stephengothisstar. Hone also entered Chimney Sweep, a 6-year-old gelded son of Trippi, who has a solid effort over the track when he was 1 3/4 lengths second to Winter Camp over the Prairie Express distance.

The Prairie Rose, for fillies and mares, has a wide-open feel to it from its eight entrants. Favoritism will likely go to the Christine Janks-trained Cruise, winner of Hawthorne’s April 23 $88,000 Governor’s Lady Handicap by 1 3/4 lengths. Jockey Terry Thompson, whose 42 wins led the the jockey race here by 20 through Friday, handles the assignment.

The lightly raced Ha Ha Tonka, who ships in from Arlington for trainer Dan Peitz, should control the pace and looked impressive beating allowance foes by 1 3/4 lengths over Churchill’s slop on May 3. Smoky Belle, a $4,000 claimer in 2009, has credentials and finished a game second beaten a length by Beautician in the Pan Zareta at Fair Grounds on Feb. 19.

Others to consider are the 2010 Goldfinch winner, Tornado Betty; the Chip Woolley-trained speedball Stormy Express, and Hone’s versatile mare Dixie Unioness.

Denali Glitter, whose trainer Tim Martin’s stable won three on Friday night, and Jack Frost’s recent $15,000 claim Swift Action round out the field.