08/13/2009 12:00AM

Prairie's best sprinters clash

Sunny Taylor/Coady Photography
Native Ruler, shown winning the King Cotton at Oaklawn Park, will face Coach Jimi Lee for the first time Saturday.

The two best sprinters in recent years locally, Coach Jimi Lee and Native Ruler, meet for the first time Saturday evening in the $75,000 Prairie Meadows Sprint.

Coach Jimi Lee, the track-record holder at the Sprint distance of six furlongs with a 1:07.85 clocking back in 2004, has won the Iowa Sprint Handicap three times. Native Ruler, who won the Iowa Sprint Handicap in 2008 and the Prairie Express this year, finished fourth to runaway winner Ez Dreamer in the Iowa Sprint Handicap on June 27.

Coach Jimi Lee, now 9, flashed signs of a return to form in his last two starts, both allowance races at Prairie. He finished second, beaten by less than a length in both races. Trainer Jim Divito ships him to Iowa for the 10th time Saturday. In his nine previous races locally, he has never finished worse than second, winning five times.

Native Ruler, the star of the powerful Maggi Moss-owned, Chris Richard-trained stable, had his four-race win streak end in Ez Dreamer's 3 1/4-length Sprint Handicap romp. Before that, Native Ruler, a former claimer, had been in career form, winning stakes at Churchill Downs, Oaklawn Park, and the Prairie Express. Leading rider Terry Thompson will be aboard probable favorite Native Ruler for the first time.

The 7-year-old Chicago shipper High Expectations travels to Prairie Meadows for the first time. Trained by Christine Janks, High Expectations's strong closing kick may be more effective over this dirt course than over Arlington's Polytrack.

The Big Wave, Caruso, and Praderoso complete the lineup.