05/14/2009 12:00AM

Von Hemel loaded in John Wayne


Trainer Kelly Von Hemel holds all the cards in the $65,000 John Wayne Stakes at Prairie Meadows, a six-furlong event for Iowa-bred colts and geldings. Von Hemel trains the three probable favorites, Maya's Storm, Crimson King Cat, and Red Hot N Gold, last year's convincing winner. All three are multiple winners of more than $200,000 at Prairie Meadows.

Maya's Storm, who will break from the rail, has never finished off the board at six furlongs but may be more suited to route races.

"His best lifetime race was in last year's Iowa Derby," Von Hemel said, "and I think he's better around two turns."

In the Iowa Derby, Maya's Storm ran second to Tiz Now Tiz Then by 2 1/4 lengths at odds of 13-1.

"I hope he doesn't get too far back off the pace by breaking from the inside," Von Hemel said.

Red Hot N Gold is expected to be the slight favorite. He has been freshened since finishing a lackluster 11th in Oaklawn Park's Count Fleet Sprint Handicap on April 10.

"Every once in a while he throws in a clunker," Von Hemel explained. "But I'm confident he'll bounce back to his best form."

Crimson King Cat looked sharp in his seasonal debut, winning the six-furlong allowance prep for the John Wayne by 4 1/4 lengths in a spritely 1:09.66. He possesses the best speed of the Von Hemel trio, and that may prove an advantage.

Despite their credentials, eight other Iowa-breds are entered. Of those, Dynamic Affair, recently named the Iowa HBPA's claiming horse of the year for 2008, appears to have a chance at an upset.

"We looked at his numbers from his 2008 races here and decided he was good enough to bring back for Iowa-bred stakes," owner Maggi Moss said.

The John Wayne will mark his seasonal debut.