05/28/2003 11:00PM

Prairie Meadows track report

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ALTOONA, Iowa - Depending on your point of view, the $50,000 Prairie Mile for 3-year-olds at Prairie Meadows could be either a handicapping dream or a nightmare.

With six of the nine contestants coming off a victory, the betting should be spread among several horses. But since none of the entrants has won a stakes race around two turns, finding the winner will not be easy.

If the race were a sprint instead of a two-turn stakes, Mick would be the one to beat. With 5 wins from 10 starts, including a stakes win for trainer Bill Pogue, Mick has the best race record of anyone in the race. He has never tried two turns, however, and has drawn the outside post.

Mick was a confirmed front-runner until his latest start. After he broke slowly, jockey Luis Quinonez let Mick race at the rear of the field to the stretch before he unleashed a powerful rally to win a six-furlong allowance over older rivals.

Whether Mick's newfound ability to rate will allow him to get two turns remains to be seen. Quinonez has a return call.

Golden Reputation is the 3-1 morning-line favorite and has proved her ability to route. Trained by Don Von Hemel, she is facing males for the first time and has never won a stakes. John Jacinto will ride.

Morning Merry enters off two straight wins in Chicago, the first against maiden company at a mile on the turf at Hawthorne and the second on dirt in an allowance at a mile and 70 yards at Arlington. Alex Birzer will ride Morning Merry for trainer Jim McCoy.

Other contenders include Strodes Commander, a stakes winner who has never won around two turns, as well as Bodgiteer and Exciting Storm, who both enter off victories around two turns but now step up to face much tougher competition.