05/23/2012 2:49PM

Prairie Meadows: Pair of festival prep races top card

Renee Torbit/Coady Photography
Outta Tune has progressed from low-level claimer to a graded stakes winner since last July.

ALTOONA, Iowa – With the Iowa Festival of Racing looming large the last weekend of June, Prairie Meadows conducts local preps for the Festival’s two sprint races, the $100,000 Saylorville and the $125,000 Iowa Sprint Handicap, this Friday night.

The $60,000 Prairie Rose, a six-furlong event for fillies and mares, drew a field of six, including Churchill Downs-based graded stakes winner Salty Strike. Trained by Ken McPeek, Salty Strike, victorious in the Grade 3 Dogwood at Churchill Downs last June, looks to rebound in this spot following a seventh-place finish behind Groupie Doll’s dominant performance in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff.

Despite racing at six different tracks in her 13-race career, Salty Strike has collected all four of her lifetime wins on Churchill’s main track and, as the 9-5 morning line favorite, has an air of vulnerability despite her pronounced class edge.

Speedballs Seachi and Starlite Starbrite should ensure a lively pace and both have the credentials to win.

Locally owned by Dennis and Brenda Bracewell’s B-Fine Equine, Seachi, who thrives here, won a May 3 optional claimer in 1:09.80 and breezed a half-mile in 46.40 seconds last Friday.

Starlite Starbrite, conditioned by Tom Amoss for breeder-owner Andrena Van Doren, has been freshened since a 2  1/4-length tally in a tough Feb.  24 Fair Grounds allowance race.

Prairie Express: Outta Tune in top form

Success story Outta Tune is the focal point of the co-featured $60,000 Prairie Express, a six-furlong stakes which drew seven geldings.

Outta Tune won a $4,000 claimer here last July 4 and was taken for $5,000 by Maggi Moss when sixth on July 18. He has since won six races culminated by a half-length win in the Grade 3 Count Fleet handicap at Oaklawn Park on April 14. Co-leading jockey Terry Thompson, who has 36 meet wins along with Alex Birzer coming into Thursday’s card, retains the mount for trainer Chris Richard.

The challengers are led by Wiredfortwotwenty, the defending Prairie Express champ, and hard-trying River Bear, a stout closer from Fairmount Park.

Wiredfortwotwenty, trained by Bart Hone, is unraced since last year’s Prairie Express but shows a string of four solid morning drills.

Trainer Leroy Hellman, who is 10 for 32 this year, ships in River Bear off a conclusive 2 3/4-length win in Hawthorne’s Robert S. Molaro Handicap for Illinois-breds.