Two defending champions will try to defend their titles in a pair of stakes at Fonner Park this afternoon.
In the $15,000 Runza Stakes for fillies and mares going six furlongs, 2014 champion Lady Contender makes her return to the races for her 6-year old campaign in the same spot she did last year. The mare owns a 23-24 streak of in the money finishes and earnings of over $200,000. Her path to a repeat will attempt to be blocked by two new Fonner runners.
Wild About Irene, part of a Marvin Johnson trained entry with Hersilia, will be making her first Fonner start after campaigning mostly in Indiana and Florida. She runs best when she runs early and that style has worked well at Fonner this season. She missed the board in her two stakes starts but does own a 2014 victory in a $50,000 Optional Claiming race at Indiana Downs running back after her $40,000 claim.
Another frontrunner, Corner the Market, was a $30,000 claim last out in a Gulfstream Park sprint. She also runs well on the lead. With Spice Swirl, perennial winner of the Orphan Kist, and Kim’s Star also wanting the front end, the race looks to set up well for the defending champion if she’s ready.
In the $25,000 Dowd Mile, Unsaddled Glory returns to defend his title off of a 4th place finish in the Budweiser Tondi Stakes. Well placed in the early stages of the Tondi, the 7-year old gelding had nothing left in the tank at the end. Though the Dowd adds two panels, the race probably helped sharpen him up for the Dowd.
Battle Hardened, winner of the Tondi, made his local debut a winning one after a blistering 15-length win a Churchill claiming race. The six furlong Tondi was probably a bit short for his liking but he was able to get up in the final stages. The extra 1/4 mile of the Dowd should prove to be no problem for the morning line favorite.