Updated on 09/18/2011 1:32AM

Turf, but not spot, looks soft for Mesawmi

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Reed Palmer
Mesawmi draws off to win on yielding turf at Churchill on Nov. 1. He will face tougher foes Friday.

Byrne was right, as Mesawmi drew off to an impressive victory over a course rated yielding. And with Mesawmi ready to run again Friday in the day's $61,000 feature, Byrne was glad not only to see a steady rain falling Wednesday morning at Churchill, but also to hear that more was in the forecast.

Byrne noted that "the only loss for this horse in his last four races was over a very hard turf," on Sept. 2 at Ellis Park. "He really likes the Churchill course, especially when it has some give to it."

To repeat, however, Mesawmi will have to outrun what appears to be a tougher caliber of opponent. Among the overflow field entered in the 1o1/8-mile race are Mystery Giver, the resurgent Illinois-bred who has earned more than $1.2 million, and Greek Sun, a 5-year-old who has been away for more than two years after winning the Oak Tree Derby at Santa Anita in October 2004.

"This looks like a little stakes race," said Byrne. "But if my horse runs his race again, he should be right there."

Mesawmi, a Stonerside Stable gelding, will be ridden by Corey Lanerie when he breaks from post 6 in a field that will be limited to 10 starters.

Mystery Giver, with Robby Albarado named to ride, will break from post 5. Trained by Chris Block, Mystery Giver has been entered for the $100,000 claiming option that helps govern the race.

Greek Sun (post 10) is the unknown quantity. Formerly based in California with Bobby Frankel, he began his career with three straight wins, and after incurring his first loss by finishing second in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes, he raced just twice more, ending with his sensational win in the Oak Tree Derby. Since then, Greek Sun has been turned over by owner Peter Angelos of Baltimore Orioles fame to trainer Tommy Voss, who has had the horse in training at the Atlanta Hall Training Center.

Besides the ninth-race feature, two other allowances - both for fillies and mares at a mile on the main track - are on the 10-race Friday card. In the fourth race, Sugar Shake figures as a solid favorite for Frankel, while Hayden Valley looks like the horse to beat in the eighth race.