09/10/2003 11:00PM

Wiggins faces five at Prairie Meadows


ALTOONA, Iowa - Multiple stakes winner Wiggins appears to have scared off most of the competition for Saturday's $75,000 Prairie Meadows Derby, as only five rivals will line up to face him in the closing-day feature of the 48-day mixed meeting.

Trainer Tony Granitz considered shipping Wiggins to run in the $750,000 Pennsylvania Derby earlier in the month, but passed in favor of this spot. As a result, Wiggins will be the odds-on choice in the 1 1/16-mile Prairie Meadows Derby.

Wiggins, an Illinois-bred son of Cartwright, enters the derby off back-to-back stakes victories at Arlington Park, his latest coming in the $100,000 Round Table on June 26. In that race, he stalked the pacesetter to the stretch before drawing off to an easy 4 3/4-length victory under his regular rider, Eusebio Razo Jr.

The Round Table was Wiggins's first try around two turns and his first win against open stakes company. It followed an easy score against statebreds in the Springfield, a one-turn mile event on June 21.

Overall, Wiggins sports a record of 5-1-2 from 8 starts, and has $134,480 in earnings. Razo will be in from Chicago to ride Wiggins, who will be the 122-pound highweight and spot his rivals five to seven pounds.

Morning Merry is the only other stakes winner entered here. He rallied to a 3 1/2-length score in the Canterbury Derby over a wet-fast track in Minnesota on June 28 for trainer Jim McCoy. Morning Merry will be coupled in the wagering with Big Glori as an Orion Stables entry.

Iowa-breds S. S. Bounty and Rubianos Image can be competitive in this spot on their best day, but if Wiggins runs his race, they will likely be trying to complete the exacta.