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Prairie Express winner Premium Saltine out sprints Coach Jimi Lee


May 7, 2005     E-mail this page to a friend!

By Coady, Mary Lou

PRAIRIE MEADOWS, Altoona, IA-Premium Saltine might have ran in Derby Day's allowance sprint at Churchill Downs if trainer Tom Amoss had his way but instead, the 6-year-old son of Salt Lake made the nearly 600 mile trek to Iowa to win the $50,000 Prairie Express Stakes for his owner, Maggi Moss.

Premium Saltine previously won six of 18 starts, traveling to major Midwest tracks like Churchill Downs, Arlington Park, Fair Grounds, and Lone Star Park. Tonight, he went up against Coach Jimi Lee, making his first return since last July's record-setting Iowa Sprint.

Cozzen Vinny, from the barn of trainer Nick Canani, burned brightly while setting the quarter- and half-mile fractions in 21.83 seconds and 44.64 seconds, respectively, but fatigue set in as he dropped back, paving the way for Premium Saltine racing in second to take over the lead.

Coach Jimi Lee pursued, making up distance from third to second place, but could not catch Premium Saltine, who recorded 5 ? furlongs in one minute, 2.64 seconds. The winning time was just 15/100ths shy of the 8-year-old track record set by Leaping Plum in 1:02.50.

The Iowa-bred, Roarofvictory, finished third on behalf of owner and trainer Jim McCoy (Orion Stables). Swen, saddled by trainer Cliff DeLima, did not threaten. Explosive Count, Premium Saltine's other half of the paired entry owned by Moss and trained by Dick Clark, finished fifth.

"I think a lot of hard work pays off," said Maggi Moss, currently ranked 19th among the nation's winningest owners. "I've been insistent that (Premium Saltine) not run for a (claiming) price. I thought he was good enough to win stakes races and I was right. I claimed this horse for $40,000 at Lone Star. He's by Salt Lake. I gave him to Tom Amoss, my trainer in Kentucky. He talked about running him for a price and I said I think this horse is special. He won at Hawthorne about three weeks ago. It was a question of running him at Churchill today on Derby Day or running here. I asked (Tom Amoss) if he would be kind enough to let him come to my home track and he was gracious enough to let him."

Amoss wanted to enter Premium Saltine in today's 6-furlong allowance at Churchill, Race 2 on the card won by Wildcat Shoes and jockey Edgar Prado.

"I wanted to support Prairie Meadows," Moss explained, "so I shipped (Premium Saltine) here from Louisville and thought it was important to try and bring a nice horse here. It worked out."

"I loved his bloodlines," Moss continued. "I loved that he was lightly raced. I just saw a lot of potential in him in the right hands. I gave him to Tom Amoss and I thought he would be good at the Fair Grounds, Chicago and Louisville, and then the biggest decision was (Tom Amoss) wanted to run him at Churchill today. I wanted him to run at my home track. I loved that it worked out. The purse at Churchill was (about) $65,000. I just wanted to bring him here."

It was jockey Tim Doocy's fourth win of the evening.

"I talked to Tom (Amoss) this morning," said Doocy. "(Tom Amoss) said the horse was pretty much push-button; just see what happens. That's pretty much the way it was. He ran a little off of it. When I asked him, he just accelerated down the stretch. We had a good, clean trip."

Only two other times in Doocy's career spanning more than 30 years has he topped tonight's performance, recording six wins on a single day at Remington Park in Oklahoma and at Longacres in the Pacific Northwest.

"Horses like that run back and improve, but you never know," said Doocy of tonight's hot streak.

Premium Saltine's earnings to date total $180,365, which include $30,000 as tonight's winning share of the Prairie Express purse. Premium Saltine is out of the Wild Again mare, Craze. John T. L. Jones and Troy Seale in Kentucky are the horse's breeders.

Official order of finish: Premium Saltine, Coach Jimi Lee, Roarofvictory, Swen, Explosive Count, Cozzen Vinny.

Payoffs: Premium Saltine-$5.60, $2.20, $2.20; Coach Jimi Lee-$2.40, $2.20; Roarofvictory-$2.40.