08/06/2002 11:00PM

Sure Shot Biscuit Iowa's first millionaire


ALTOONA, Iowa - Sure Shot Biscuit became the first Iowa-bred to reach $1 million in career earnings by finishing third in an allowance race at Prairie Meadows on Tuesday.

Sure Shot Biscuit's $4,500 share of the purse gave him earnings of $1,000,500 for Okoboji Racing Stable, which has owned the 6-year-old gelding throughout his racing career. Kelly Von Hemel trains Sure Shot Biscuit, Iowa-bred horse of the year for the last three seasons.

Getting past the million-dollar mark has been a struggle; Sure Shot Biscuit hasn't won in seven starts this year, although he has finished on the board in all of his races. Last year Sure Shot Biscuit won 7 of 12 starts, including several stakes, and earned $368,000.

On Tuesday it appeared Sure Shot Biscuit was going to pass the $1 million mark in style, taking a narrow lead inside of the final furlong under regular rider Terry Thompson. But he was caught in the final strides of the mile race and beaten a head and a neck by winner I Dancer and Saddlespur.

Von Hemel said finally getting past the million-dollar mark was a relief.

"We certainly expected to get it done much earlier in the season than this, but it just didn't work out," he said. "I've been happy with his efforts, we've just had a little bit of bad luck and we've run into some tougher horses this season."

Von Hemel said Sure Shot Biscuit will make one more start this year. He will attempt to defend his title in the $75,000-added Ralph Hayes, a 1 1/16-mile race for Iowa-breds that is the featured event of Iowa Classic Night here Aug. 31. No decision has been made as to whether Sure Shot Biscuit will return to the races in 2003.

While Sure Shot Biscuit will make at least one more start, the careers of the top two Iowa-bred female money earners recently ended.

Nut N Better, a 5-year-old full sister to Sure Shot Biscuit, has been retired by her owner-breeders Shady Bend Thoroughbreds. Nut N Better, who was the 2001 Iowa-bred mare of the year, became ill last winter and nearly died.

She returned to trainer Fred Falldorf's barn this spring and won an allowance race in her first start of the year here on May 17. The victory sent her past Lady Tamworth as the all-time leading money earner among Iowa-bred females.

Nut N Better returned and finished third in the Mamie Eisenhower Stakes on June 7 before ending her career with a sixth-place finish in the Hawkeyes Handicap on June 28.

After the Hawkeyes, Nut N Better was sent to Iowa State University where examinations showed she had scar tissue damage in her lungs, a carryover from her illness. Nut N Better retires with a career record of 14-5-4 from 28 starts and earnings of $572,828.

She is now resting comfortably at her owner's farm in Grand Island, Neb., according to Falldorf, and will be bred next year, although no stallion has been picked yet.

Lady Tamworth's career ended when she had to be euthanized July 27 after breaking down a few strides before the wire in an allowance race on the turf at Canterbury Park.

Lady Tamworth crossed the wire second in the race but was disqualified by the stewards, who ruled she failed to carry her assigned weight to the wire. Lady Tamworth's rider, Joel Campbell, was in the process of falling off her when they crossed the finish line, although he didn't hit the ground until several yards after the finish.

Rick Olson, who owned the 7-year-old Lady Tamworth throughout her racing career, said he will appeal the stewards' ruling. Even if the ruling was overturned, however, the $4,400 second-place share of the purse would leave Lady Tamworth just over $2,000 short of Nut N Better's career earnings.

Lady Tamworth, who was the Iowa-bred mare of the year in both 1999 and 2000, had a record of 15-13-11 from 68 starts and earned $566,638.