04/21/2005 12:00AM

Skip and Go the favorite in brainbuster


GRAND ISLAND, Neb. - The $100,000 Bosselman/Gus Fonner Stakes on Saturday drew a field of nine runners that provides handicappers with a tough study because the field runs strong from top to bottom.

is the highweight at 118 pounds for the 1 1/1`6-mile test and might be a slight favorite off his second in the Sunland Park Handicap on March 26. He has two stakes wins this year, and trainer Jose Gonzalez will bring in Ken Tohill from New Mexico to ride.

Stormy Impact invades from Chicago for trainer Frank Kirby off a strong six-length win in the Sarco Stakes at Hawthorne on April 2. Nebraska horseplayers will remember Stormy Impact as the winner of last summer's Omaha Handicap at Horsemen's Park. Timothy Thornton is named to ride from post 8.

In the outside post is local celebrity Lukfata Louis, the leading candidate for horse of the meet honors. Trainer Temple Rushton will keep regular rider Don Frazier in the saddle. Lukfata Louis won the half-mile Grasmick Handicap early in the meet here and most recently was an impressive winner of the Budweiser-Tondi Handicap at six furlongs.

Lukfata Louis, Stormy Impact, and Skip and Go - along with Tonight Rainbow and rider Armando Martinez from post 1 - should assure a solid pace as they all like to run at or near the front of the pack.

Dusty Spike, who won this race in 2003 and was second in last year's edition, might benefit the most from a quick pace scenario.

He has demonstrated an affinity for five-eighth-mile ovals in Nebraska. His trainer, Mark Lee, will bring Kerry Kretzer up from Oklahoma to ride from post 5.

The Kelly Von Hemel-trained Robin Zee would also benefit from a solid pace. Robin Zee has a trip over the surface, running second in the Dowd Mile Handicap here April 2. Perry Compton, who has moved his tack to Prairie Meadows, will return to ride Robin Zee, from post 4.

Robin Zee rallied from just off the pace to challenge through the far turn of the Dowd Mile on a day when closers were at a disadvantage.

George Taylor, a deep closer from the barn of Ricky Gustafson, failed to fire his usual late run in the Dowd Mile when fourth, but cannot be overlooked. R.D. Williams will ride from post 3.

Loan Me a Fen, trained by D.L. Jones, was third in the Dowd and will have Dan Beck in the irons from post 2.