Prairie Meadows Expert Selections for Saturday, June 29th


by Anthony Kelzenberg

R6 Iowa Oaks (Restricted to 3yo Fillies). 8.5 furlongs. Grade 3. Purse $200,000.

Picks: # 3- 10 -2- 5

This is is an interesting race as only one contestant, #10 FIFTYSHADESOFHAY, fits the race conditions on distance and class, but she drew the dreaded 10 post with a fairly short run into the first turn. She should go well but I think it would be a mistake to key her in the pick four because of the post. I’ll put the #10 second.

I am going to put #3 HITECHNOWEENIE on top. This horse appears to be “on the up” for the underrated Ken McPeek and her last two races have been fantastic.

#2 SO MANY WAYS is owned by Des Moines resident/prominent ownwer Maggi Moss and this race has been the filly’s target since her Fair Grounds experiment didn’t go as planned. Maggi tells me that So Many Ways is feeling great and “looks happy,” which makes her dangerous in this field.

#5 GOLD MEDAL DANCER gets “blinkers on” after a solid Churchill route race that got a big figure. Could surprise.

R7 Iowa Derby (Restricted to 3yo). 8.5 furlongs. Grade 3. Purse $250,000.

Picks: # 3- 1 -5

#3 BASHAAR is my bet of the night for me. The pace of the race should be quick and his jockey made a very premature move in his last race (June 1 Race 7 Prm if you want to watch it). Either of his last two dirt races wins on Saturday night.

#1 OUR DOUBLE PLAY will be asked for speed out of the gate, but I think he will settle second or third in the run, taking on #5 Manando at the 5/16th pole or so. This horse loves a fight and his form is best on an OFF TRACK – there is a 30% chance of rain for Saturday in the Des Moines area, so if the rains come his chances improve.

#5 MANANDO has never won on regular dirt in three tries, losing ground badly in all three attempts. Also, in his only two career wins he had huge leads at the eighth pole (4 lengths in his maiden and 5 lengths in his ‘one other than’ allowance), so I am going to try an beat him and leave him off my pick 4.

R8 Cornhusker Handicap (3yo and Up). 9.0 furlongs. Grade 3. Purse $300,000.

Picks: # 5 -6 -2 -1

#5 PRAYER FOR RELIEF looked great winning the Iowa Derby two years ago…and hasn’t won since. His speed figures are good and I see no reason to leave him off the ticket.

#6 TAPTOWNE keeps running on the engine and putting up good speed figures. I have communicated with this trainer and he has been pointing for this race since mid-April. Would definitely not be a surprise with a win. Connections going with ‘stable jock’ Borel.

#2 SILVER MAX ran away from outclassed turf horses on JUNE 1, but if you look at his career the horse seems to run better in the Midwest and his pedigree actually leans more to dirt than turf. Certainly can’t eliminate in this spot.

#1 NICKLAUS WAY is rounding into form and his dirt record is really pretty good (8-3-2-0). I am going to throw him into my pick 4 if the race falls apart with all the speed in the race.

R9 Iowa-bred (3yo and up)$12,500n2L. 6.0 furlongs. Purse $18,720

Picks: # 12- 4

In these kind of sprint races, I want LIGHTYLY RACED horses with a relatively high win percentage (1 for 7 or better), that I think could go wire to wire. The best candidates I found were #12 DIXIE SURGE and #4 BLUE BOY BLUE. Usually there are no ‘quality closers’) at this level.

PICK-4 ticket: 2,3,5,10/1,3/1,2,5,6/4,12 = $32 cost

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 19-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 of the NHC twice. A former executive with and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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