Winless in six starts since capturing last fall's Super Derby (gr. II), My Pal Charlie is the 120-pound high weight for the $300,000 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap (gr. II) on June 27.
Coming off a closing fourth-place finish in the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont Park after a bad start, the B. Wayne Hughes-owned 4-year-old could go favored in the 1 1/8-mile Cornhusker. The ninth race on the program is the most lucrative event among the six stakes that comprise the two-day "Iowa Festival of Racing" at Prairie Meadows June 26-27.
Also on the June 27 card is the $125,000 Iowa Sprint Handicap, the seventh race, which brings together an evenly matched field of seven, and the $125,000 Iowa Distaff, race eight on the program, which attracted just five older fillies and mares.
My Pal Charlie is 4-1 on the morning line in a Cornusker field of eight older horses that includes the steady veteran Jonesboro, the early line favorite at 7-2. Also entered is Secret Getaway, who just missed to Macho Again in the New Orleans Handicap (gr. II) two starts back on a sloppy track, and defending Cornhusker winner Wayzata Bay, who tallied by 3 1/2 lengths at odds of 38-1 last year.
Robby Albarado takes over on My Pal Charlie for trainer Albert Stall Jr. They will break from post 2.
The Indian Charlie colt had no luck in the one-mile Metropolitan May 25, stumbling badly at the break and racing far back early. He rallied strongly coming off the turn and wound up beaten by 1 1/2 lengths by the victorious Bribon.
In his two prior graded tries this spring, My Pal Charlie was also close. He turned in a runner-up finish to Accredit in the seven-furlong Churchill Downs (gr. II) on a sloppy track May 2. Three weeks earlier, he ran third in Keeneland's Commonwealth (gr. II), also at seven furlongs.
Trainer Randy Morse ships the 7-year-old Jonesboro from Lone Star Park, where he won the Texas Mile (gr. III) April 25 with a big closing effort. The son of Sefapiano came back a month later to miss by a head to It's a Bird in the 1 1/16-mile Lone Star Park Handicap (gr. III).
Michael Langford's Jonesboro, a lifetime earner of $1.2 million with 13 wins in 39 starts, ran fourth in the 2007 Cornhusker. Carrying 119 this time, Jonesboro starts from the far outside with Cliff Berry to ride.
Secret Getaway, who most recently ran fourth in the Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II) April 4, gains the services of jockey Kent Desormeaux. Michael Stidham trains the 4-year-old son of Skip Away for Sand and Cee Stables.
Shadowbdancing brings back-to-back front-running wins to his credit, including a 2 1/4-length victory in the local Cornhusker stakes prep, the Jim Rasmussen Memorial, on May 23. He may be the quickest of several speed types in the field that also includes stakes winners Stonehouse and Red Hot N Gold, as well as Southern California invader Victory Pete.
Wayzata Bay is facing a tougher Cornhusker field than he upset last year, and he has lost seven straight races since last summer. Trained by Judith Hicklin for World Thoroughbred Racing, he comes off a distant fourth-place finish in the Rasmussen and is listed at 10-1.
The stakes action kicks off with the six-furlong Iowa Sprint Handicap, led by Native Ruler, the 3-1 morning line choice after winning his past four starts. Four others in the field are listed at odds of 5-1 or less: Bold Start, Silver Edition, Sok Sok, and Semaphore Man.
In the Iowa Distaff, Euphony, victorious in the Arlington Matron Handicap (gr. III) last time out, puts her five-race win streak on the line against four rivals, including the $1.1-million earner Bear Now.
$300,000 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap (gr. II, Race 9, 10:17 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/8 miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, ML Odds
1. Stonehouse (IL), P Compton, 117, J E Broussard, 8/1
2. My Pal Charlie (KY), R Albarado, 120, A M Stall, Jr., 4/1
3. Red Hot N Gold (IA), T J Thompson, 113, K R Von Hemel, 12/1
4. Victory Pete (FL), J Valdivia Jr., 112, A Barba, 6/1
5. Shadowbdancing (FL), R A Meier, 115, T Gore, 5/1
6. Wayzata Bay (KY), I Ocampo, 115, J A Hicklin, 10/1
7. Secret Getaway (KY), K J Desormeaux, 118, M Stidham, 9/2
8. Jonesboro (KY), M C Berry, 119, R L Morse, 7/2