05/23/2003 11:00PM

Triage likely to have plenty of pace pressure at Prairie


ALTOONA, Iowa - Triage and Darkly Noon head a field of 10 Iowa-bred 3-year-old colts and geldings in Monday's $50,000-added Gray's Lake Stakes at Prairie Meadows.

Triage is the lone stakes winner in the Gray's Lake by virtue of his front-running nose score in the $50,000 Iowa Stallion Futurity here last September at Monday's six-furlong distance. Following the Stallion Futurity, Triage finished eighth in an open stakes, prompting trainer Ray Tracy to send the gelded son of Dr. Danzig to the sidelines for the remainder of the year.

Triage returned to the races here nine days ago and dueled to the final sixteenth of a mile before tiring to finish fifth, beaten by 1 1/2 lengths, in a nonwinners-of-three statebred allowance.

Triage figures to move forward off that race but will not get an easy lead on Monday as many of his Gray's Lake rivals are front-runners. Triage will be coupled in the wagering with Whamo; both are owned by J.R. and Beverly Lewis.

Whamo won his maiden in his career debut here on April 18 and returned and ran fourth after a wide trip in an open allowance here on May 5. Tracy feels that Whamo may eventually prove to be the better of his two runners in this race. Joe Johnson has been named on both halves of the entry.

Darkly Noon is a major threat in the Gray's Lake for hot trainer Dave McShane. Darkly Noon scored a front-running victory in a first-level statebred allowance here on May 3 in his latest start. Darkly Noon has two wins and two seconds from four career starts. One of his runner-up efforts came in the $65,000 Iowa Cradle Stakes here last August.

Alex Birzer, who has been aboard Darkly Noon in both of his 2003 starts, has a return call on Monday.

Players seeking a longshot in the Gray's Lake should look at either Devilnine or Billy Idel. Both are stepping up after winning their maidens last out, but both are capable of making a late run, which may be the right style in this speed-filled stakes.