06/24/2009 11:00PM

Proceed Bee tough for Iowa Derby


Terrain's 2009 resume includes only Grade 1 and Grade 2 races, his last-out seventh-place finish in the Preakness Stakes was the product of a difficult trip, and he may be favored to win the Iowa Derby on Friday night at Prairie Meadows. The ubiquitous Steve Asmussen stable has two horses for the race, well-traveled Uno Mas and lightly raced Soul Warrior. Moonport scored romping wins in his last two Kentucky starts and gets the riding services of Julien Leparoux, among the nation's top jockeys.

But anyone who witnessed the performance of Proceed Bee on June 6 at Prairie Meadows might wind up thinking he's the one with a big chance to take down top honors in the $250,000 Iowa Derby, the last of three stakes Friday that begin the two-night Iowa Festival of Racing.

Chicago-based Proceed Bee was checked at the three-quarters pole in the Iowa Derby prep, the $50,000 Prairie Mile, and a quarter-mile from the finish, he was last among eight horses. Up front, the leaders had strolled through the opening half-mile in a leisurely 48.80 seconds. Proceed Bee had no business winning at all but he passed the entire field between the head of the lane and the finish with surprising ease, winning by one length with a final quarter-mile in something like 23 seconds.

"He did have a big turn of foot," said Scott Becker, who trains Proceed Bee for owner Bill Stiritz. "I've never seen him finish that fast before."

Proceed Bee was making his first dirt start since he began racing in blinkers. A couple months ago, Proceed Bee looked more like a turf and synthetic horse, but after his Prairie stretch run, it wouldn't be a stretch to think dirt actually is his thing.

Proceed Bee, however, cannot regress and win Friday night's 1 1/16-mile race. And while Terrain hasn't had his picture taken since he was moved from third to first via a double disqualification in the Sept. 13 Arlington-Washington Futurity, he looks well spotted. Terrain came back from a winter break to finish third in the Louisiana Derby, then was a close fourth in the Blue Grass Stakes before getting caught in a jam between horses when moving smartly at the three-sixteenths pole in the Preakness.

"I was happy with the fact that if you watch the way he was running, he was in [jockey] Jeremy Rose's hands, and he was going through the pack," trainer Al Stall said. "I thought it was a deep track, and not running in five weeks, it was hard for him to pick it up again after getting stopped."

Moonport, one of four Kentucky invaders, started his 3-year-old season in a $25,000 maiden claimer at Gulfstream but won a starter-allowance at Keeneland by more than five lengths and an entry-level allowance at Churchill last out by more than four. Moonport has never raced around two turns, but trainer Ian Wilkes likes his chances of stretching out.

"The horse has good acceleration," Wilkes said. "He's been a little bit of a surprise, but they're the fun ones."

Uno Mas wound up third as the favorite in the Prairie Mile, and the other Asmussen-trained colt, Soul Warrior, probably has more room to improve.

Red Lead, a fading second in the Lone Star Derby last out, figures to cross over from post 8 for the early lead. Florida shipper Duke of Mischief's recent romp came in mud, and he's unproven on dry dirt. Conchacer returns out of the Prairie Mile while His Greatness would've seemed unlikely from anywhere and drew poorly in post 9.