03/23/2006 12:00AM

Tonight Rainbow looks tough


Oklahoma-based Tonight Rainbow is the expected favorite among a field of 10 older horses for the $25,000 Tondi Stakes at Fonner Park.

The 7-year-old Tonight Rainbow, who won this race in 2003, made his 2006 debut at Fonner on Feb. 26, and was an impressive 5 1/2-length winner going a half-mile in the Grasmick Stakes. Based with trainer Boyd Caster at Will Rogers Downs, Tonight Rainbow tuned up for the Tondi with a strong 47.80-second breeze at Will Rogers on March 17. Larren Delorme again rides from post 5.

High Fleet, trained by Roland Schulz, comes into the Tondi off a late-running half-length win in the Ogataul Stakes on March 11. That was his first stakes score and he faces a tougher task here in his third start of the year. R.D. Williams rides from post 2.

Thundering Verzy, last year's older Nebraska-bred champion, set the pace in the Ogataul while making his 2006 debut, but came up empty and faded to fifth, beaten 2 1/2 lengths. He will benefit from having that race under his belt.

Loan Me a Fen could be a live longshot here. He rallied to finish second against Tonight Rainbow in the Grasmick and should be much more at home at the six-furlong distance of the Tondi.

The track is expected to be wet on Saturday following a spring blizzard last Monday that dumped 20-plus inches of snow over central Nebraska. The track crew worked at clearing the snow off the racing surface Wednesday afternoon, but temperatures in the low teens that night left the track frozen solid Thursday morning. The forecast calls for a slight warmup this weekend.