The four furlong, $10,000 Grasmick Stakes anchors the 62nd opening weekend at Fonner Park today. The Grand Island, Nebraska oval’s 31-day meet will run weekends through Kentucky Derby Saturday with Friday post time’s at 3 PM, with the exception of the first three Fridays which will start at 2 PM, and Saturday and Sunday post times at 1:30 PM.
This year’s edition of The Grasmick features a nine horse field and the favored Marvin Johnson trained entry of Toastmaster and Runaway Raj. Both horses toiled in Indiana last season and are making their first starts at Fonner in the stake.
Last season at Indiana Grand, Runaway Raj captured three allowance wins, one in open company, on the way to amassing $84,860 in earnings for the year. The five-year old gelding has a swift turn of foot and is being ridden by last year’s leading rider, Jake Olesiak.
Last year’s Grasmick champion, Ghost Vapors, is back. After leaving Fonner last year, the eight year old veteran was stakes placed at Arapahoe Downs, finishing third in the $40,000 Arapahoe Sprint Stakes.
Two contenders that had nice runs at Fonner last season are Offlee Royal and La Sorta. Offlee Royal started his career with three consecutive wins here including a stakes win in the $15,000 Baxter Stakes. He has been prepping for the season in Arizona and has been working well leading up to his seasonal debut.
La Sorta also started his 2014 season at Fonner with three consecutive wins including two allowance scores.
While difficult to close in a four furlong race, last year’s winner should get a solid trip just behind the other three who have proven to enjoy racing on the front end. Should Runaway Raj be a little short in his debut, Ghost Vapors could be the one picking up the pieces at the end.