04/21/2013 9:40AM

Prairie Meadows: Vannistelrooy Star noses out King Henny in Golden Circle


Vannistelrooy Star put forth a tenacious effort to fend off the heavily favored King Henny by a nose in Saturday's $58,800 Golden Circle Stakes at Prairie Meadows.

 The Golden Circle, a six furlong sprint for 3-year-olds, was eventful from the start as second choice Favorite Uncle was sluggishly away and the previously undefeated Vervata blazed a trail through fractions of 22.20 and 44.92 seconds. Vannistelrooy Star ($8.80), who was never far away, put his head in front approaching the three-sixteenths marker.

 King Henny was asked to improve midway around the turn from third place, setting up a battle between himself and the winner for most of the final furlong. Vannistelrooy, owned and trained by Tim Martin, was never headed and completed the distance in 1:10.00 while earning $36,000 for his first stakes win.

 On an evening when jockey Alex Birzer won five races, including four for trainer Ray Tracy, his colleague David Mello took the biggest prize aboard Vannistelrooy Star. Birzer who aboard Favorite Uncle, who rallied strongly despite the dawdling start and was gaining on the top pair at the finish, beaten just 1 1/2 lengths.