04/05/2006 11:00PM

Tonight Rainbow tries to stretch out


GRAND ISLAND, Neb. - Tonight Rainbow makes his third appearance of the year Saturday at Fonner Park, where he headlines the $30,000 Dowd Mile Stakes, a prep for the $100,000 Bosselman/Gus Fonner Stakes later this month.

Trainer Boyd Caster has Tonight Rainbow going as strong as ever, but this talented sprinter has found only limited success at a mile or longer. He comes into the race off impressive wins in the half-mile Grasmick Stakes and the Budweiser-Tondi at six furlongs. His best showing at a distance was in the 2004 Bosselman, where he finished third, beaten a length.

Nonetheless, Tonight Rainbow should be a deserving favorite Saturday. Larren Delorme will again be aboard when they break from post 3.

The main threats in the field of 10 come from the two outside posts, where invaders Stormy Business and Habaneros will be lurking.

Stormy Business shipped up from Oaklawn in late March after an eighth-place finish in the Hot Springs Stakes on March 19. A 4-year-old, Stormy Business won the Derby Trial at Assiniboia last July, then went on the shelf following a distant third in the Manitoba Derby on Aug. 1. The Hot Springs was his first start since then. Larry Donlin takes over the training duties on Stormy Business from Kelly Von Hemel, and R.D. Williams rides.

Habaneros will be making his first start since November. He was winless a year ago but had strong graded-stakes performances, including fourth-place finishes in the Cornhusker Breeders' Cup Handicap at Prairie Meadows, the Seabisuit BC at Bay Meadows, and the San Marcos at Santa Anita. The distance should prove no problem, and Cindy Noll-Murphy will be in to ride for trainer Ray Tracy.