Cornhusker Handicap Preview: Shippers Look Tough

Shotgun Kowboy - Oklahoma Derby (Grade III) - 09-27-15 - R9 - RP - Photo credit: Dustin Orona Photography
Dustin Orona Photography

Likely Winners

#9 Cyrus Alexander – Hoping that what happened last time out at Lone Star will happen again in this one at Prairie Meadows.  His last start in the Lone Star Park Handicap was his first away from California, and his class completely shined through as he cruised by the field to win by over two lengths.  Will that class carry over to Prairie Meadows?  It certainly should as he looks better than the locals and most of the shippers other than S’marverlous.  With his early stalking ability the outside draw should be ok for him, and could give him the perfect trip just off all the speed.  Hollendorfer is spotting him well again today.  I look for another great effort.

#7 S’maverlous – After running poorly to start his 2016 campaign S’marverlous has rattled off five straight good races in a row.  From those five races he’s won three times, including the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds and the 150k Mountain View Stakes at Penn National last time out.  He’s only finished off the board once in those five races, but still ran well to finish fifth in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic.  Geroux rode him last time out, and will ship in again for this contest.  His outside draw could be beneficial and check out his record at this distance… a solid 2 for 3.  He looms large here and there is no doubt he’ll have a big chance to win his second graded stakes of the year.

Exotic Plays

#3 Shotgun Cowboy – Since leaving the state of Oklahoma he’s 0 for 5 so I can’t be confident in his ability to win this one.  However, he has gotten back on track lately with a pair of Grade 3 placing at Lone Star Park with the most recent one being a two and a half length loss to my top pick in this race, Cyrus Alexander.  That is a good sign that he is at least close to being back to his Remington Park form which was very solid.  From a class standpoint this will be right up his alley.  If any of the “exotic plays” are going to jump up and win this one it will be him.

#5 Pain and Misery – This one just looks to be the classic “on the board” finisher as he’s already done it in several races that are sort of similar to the one he’ll be running in today.  He now has a new trainer in Don Von Hemel that might be beneficial, and his early speed will put him in the race early which is something that needs to happen at Prairie Meadows.  If he can get a little luck he can get up and make your tri’s and supers pay well.

#6 Code West – There is no doubt he’s had trouble finding the winners circle during his career, but he did put things together pretty well last time out to win the local prep for this race.  I have no expectations coming out of that race that he’s good enough to win this one, but he at least has a feel for the track and at this distance he’s ran some races that are pretty decent.  He’s a grind it out type of horse that should keep trying until the wire.  Not fast enough to win, but is one to use underneath.

Party Crashers

#4 Hawaakom – I’ve stated throughout the Iowa Festival of Racing previews that you have to watch Churchill Downs shippers during these series of races…and I’ve also stated that they don’t necessarily need to have flashy resumes coming into this race.  You have to like that his last four races have been at a mile and one eighth, and his last two races have been especially strong including last time out when he won by a neck at Churchill Downs in a strong allowance race.  There is no doubt he’ll have to take a step up to win this one, but there are some positive signs that makes him a live longshot.

Throw Outs

#2 Domain’s Rap – I can’t believe I’m doing it…but I’m throwing out a horse that I do really like.  It’s just the mile and one eighth distance that has me concerned.  His effort in the Oaklawn Handicap when going this distance was not quite as good as when he went a mile and one sixteenth.  Might just be a little too far for him…and he’ll need a top effort to win this one.

#1 Smack Smack – This seems to be a little too tough of a chore for him today as his losing streak has now hit seven races in a row. He’s ran well in most of his starts during the losing streak, however this might be some of the toughest competition he’s faced yet.

#9 Eaton Ridge – Hasn’t ever had an effort fast enough for these horses today, and last time out finished fifth in the local prep race for this one.

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