By John Hernandez
Photos by Coady Photography
Prairie Meadows brought down the curtain on its Thoroughbred meet on August 13 with Iowa Classic Day featuring seven stakes for Iowa-breds.
The first Iowa Classic race was a steal of a deal for co-owners Tom Allen, Dan Sears, Otto Farms Inc. (Norm Olson) and trainer Dick Clark, who greeted Matchlock and jockey Shane Laviolette in the winner’s circle after their game victory in the inaugural $100,000 Governor Terry E. Branstad Stakes for older colts and geldings. Said Allen: “We bought Matchlock from his owner and breeder Emil Kark for $3,500 right before he won a race in June.”
Gov. Branstad himself was in attendance at Prairie Meadows to present trophies to the ebullient connections.
A colt by 2012 Iowa Derby (G3) winner Hansen was somewhat of a mystery horse going into the $90,000 Iowa Cradle for 2-year-old colts and geldings.
The “knowns” were that the unraced Han Sense was bred by H. Allen Poindexter, bought by owner Kendall Hansen (who also owned Hansen) for $125,000 in the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July sale, and then supplemented to the Cradle for $15,000. After a tardy start, Han Sense rewarded his connections with an impressive victory as a first-time starter under jockey Ramon Vazquez.
Doug Anderson, who handled Han Sense for trainer Mike Maker, said, “He looks like he’ll be a nice one! Allen breeds some really good ones here in Iowa, and I know Mr. Hansen is pleased to have this one in his stable.”
Veteran jockey Scott Stevens, on a bit of a “busman’s holiday” at Prairie Meadows, picked up four mounts on Iowa Classic Day and left town with his 4,579th lifetime win in the books after piloting Theperfectvow to victory in the $90,000 Iowa Sorority for juvenile fillies.
“Our plan was to get the lead,” explained Stevens, riding for owner River Ridge Ranch LLC and trainer Robertino Diodoro. “With the babies, if they can get the lead, they usually run better. She stumbled a little leaving the gate, but there was some other trouble inside of us, and we were able to get over to the inside and take the lead.”
The filly by Majesticperfection gave Poindexter a sweep as the breeder of both 2-year-old stakes.
It had been a long time—22 races over three years—since Foxy Fleda had won a race. But breeder and owner Pam Ellison of Rosewood Farm Inc. never lost faith in the now 6-year-old mare. And that unwavering faith was rewarded with a convincing victory in the $100,000 Donna Reed Stakes for older distaffers.
“We’re just absolutely thrilled,” said trainer Doug Anderson about the Added Edge daughter. “She got beat a nose here last year in the same race. We gave her the time she needed, almost a month, to be at her best and it all worked out this year.”
Jockey Ty Kennedy, riding an Iowa Classic winner for the first time, added, “Early in the race, she didn’t really get too excited. So I just sat on her, let her run her race, and when we turned for home, I stepped on the gas and she did the rest.”
Co-owner Scott Pope always had confidence in the potential of Mywomanfromtokyo, but before the Hawkeyes Handicap on June 17 his filly had only a single victory on her résumé. Fast forward to Iowa Classic Day, when the daughter of Neko Bay crossed the finish line first in the $103,000 Iowa Breeders’ Oaks to put a giant exclamation point on a three-race win streak that vaulted her to the top of her division in Iowa.
“As I said after the Hawkeyes Handicap, we had to work on her mind a bit,” Pope said. “The body was there, the ability was there, but we had to get her mind in the right place.”
Pope and his wife, Alison, bred the filly in the name of Crimson King Farm and co-own her with Christine Rhiner.
With his impressive victory in the $103,000 Iowa Breeders’ Derby, One Fine Dream left absolutely no doubt that he was the best Iowa-bred 3-year-old on the grounds this season at Prairie Meadows. His conquest was the final jewel in what could be called the “Quadruple Crown” of state-bred stakes for colts and geldings at the Altoona oval, including the Gray’s Lake on June 4, the Cyclones Handicap on June 18 and the Iowa Stallion Stakes on July 16. One Fine Dream led throughout in the Derby, easily repulsing the lone challenge he got from No Holds Barred on the second turn.
“It’s been nice to ride him,” said jockey Shane Laviolette about the son of Woke Up Dreamin who runs for Umbrella Stables II LLC and trainer Kelly Von Hemel. “He’s a kind horse, very smart.”
One Fine Dream was bred by Gary Lucas and Linda Woods.
Trainer and co-owner Paul Pearson, a longtime familiar face at Prairie Meadows, was all smiles after his 7-year-old gelding You Funny Man rallied from off the pace under Alex Birzer to win the second running of the $85,000 Dan Johnson Sprint.
“He’s run well for me all season long, so I thought he had a shot in the Sprint,” Pearson said. “We had a little speed to run at, Alex got him rolling, and he looked strong coming to the wire.”
The win by You Funny Man capped a stellar season for Pearson, who totaled 16 wins and a 20 percent win rate from 84 starters.
River Ridge Ranch LLC co-owns the Humming gelding, and he was bred by Brad Hemba.