08/21/2008 12:00AM

Von Hemel well armed for Classic card


ALTOONA, Iowa - Prairie Meadows will hold its 15th annual Iowa Classic Night Saturday. Classic Night will offer 12 Iowa-bred stakes, seven for Thoroughbreds and five for Quarter Horses.

As usual, trainer Kelly Von Hemel has shown up loaded for bear on Classic Night and should saddle the overwhelming favorites in three of the four races he has entered.

Von Hemel has Red Hot N Gold in the $80,000 Ralph Hayes. Red Hot N Gold has had a terrific season and appears to tower over his nine foes in the 1 1/16-mile race. After throttling statebred rivals in both the John Wayne and Cyclone stakes, he ran a huge race to get nipped by Cornhusker winner Wayzata Bay in his most recent race, the Prairie Meadows Handicap. Back in against Iowa-breds in the Hayes, he looks to have it all his own way. Ken Shino will be back aboard.

Diginandrun may have been compromised by a sloppy track last time out when he finished seventh, but did finish second to Red Hot N Gold in the Cyclone Stakes and may have a say in the outcome of the Hayes.

Von Hemel's other starters are Maya's Storm in the Breeders Derby, Crimson King Cat in the Iowa Classic Sprint, and Jump If You Dare in the Iowa Cradle.

If Maya's Storm has recovered from the foot infection that kept him from competing in the Haskell Invitational earlier this month, he should be the one wearing the bull's-eye in the 1 1/16-mile $70,000 Iowa Breeders Derby. Maya's Storm has won 4 of 9 starts and 3 stakes, and the only hole in his resume is that he hasn't won at two turns, although the case could be made that it has been the company he has been keeping rather than distance that has prevented him from winning a route. Von Hemel is sticking with Richard Monterrey, who has ridden Maya's Storm in all but two of his starts.

Jumpifyoudare, trained by Von Hemel, and I Vow to Win seem to be the ones who will settle the outcome of the $70,000 Iowa Cradle. Jumpifyoudare won his maiden at first asking and came back to finish second in the Barenscheer Juvenile at Canterbury. I Vow to Win has been slowly coming to hand, according to his trainer, Larry Hunt, who doesn't feel that his colt will suffer any ill effects from making his third start in 21 days.

Just because Von Hemel likely won't saddle the favorite in the $50,000 Iowa Classic Sprint doesn't mean he won't have a live horse. Crimson King Cat has started nine times at the Sprint's six-furlong distance and has never finished worse than second. With the abundance of speed in this race, Crimson King Cat should get an ideal stalking trip for jockey Perry Compton.

The card gets under way with the mile and 70-yard Iowa Breeders Oaks. Three of the five fillies in the race are eligible for nonwinners-of-two races. Good n Gold, who looked good winning a second-level allowance last time out, might be the horse to beat. Alex Birzer has the call for trainer John Hall.

Eleven 2-year-old fillies are entered in the six-furlong Iowa Sorority, which offers a $70,000 purse. If Prairie Blues can repeat her 8 3/4-length debut win, the rest of the field may be running for second money. Trainer Ann Mitchell said that Prairie Blues is training great and that all signs point to another big effort. Birzer has a return mount.

The most puzzling race of the night could be the mile and 70-yard Donna Reed for fillies and mares. The $80,000 race has drawn a field of six and lacks a standout. Last year Thekatcamehome came into this race off of a two-month layoff and ran a big race to finish second. This year she took a vacation at almost exactly the same time. If she fires her best shot off the layoff, it will likely be good enough. The wildcard in the Donna Reed might be the well-traveled Des Moines, who might find herself on an uncontested lead.

Following the seven thoroughbred races Iowa Classic Night will conclude by offering five quarter horse races, including the Jim Bader Futurity.

Post time is 6:30 p.m.