Trials Set for Los Al Two Million

California track set to host 13 trials for state’s richest race.

November 24, 2012

A full night of trials to the Grade 1, $2,108,275 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity, the richest race contested annually in California, will highlight the racing action on Sunday at Los Alamitos Race Course. The evening will feature 109 Quarter Horses competing in 13 heats. The horses with the 10 fastest times in the 400-yard trials will move on to the Los Alamitos Two Million final to be held on Sunday, December 16.

As most Quarter Horse racing fans know by now, the rich and talented One Dashing Eagle is ineligible to compete in the trials to this race. His absence makes these trials highly intriguing, as just about any of the horses participating could rise to the top of the charts and become an overnight sensation. The lineup of trial participants is rich with talent, as 34 of the trial participants have competed in at least one major futurity this year. This list includes Jimmy Harrell's Aha Moment and Abigail Kawananakoa’s Native Tea Rose, a pair of sprinters competing in the eighth race. The two last faced each other when finishing third and fourth, respectively, to One Dashing Eagle in the Grade 1 All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs on September 3.

"(Aha Moment) was very impressive when he broke his maiden at Los Alamitos earlier in the year and he ran a fine race in the All American final," said trainer Paul Jones. "I'm very excited to see how he performs in the Los Alamitos Two Million trials."

Jones will also saddle the terrific PCQHRA Breeders’ Futurity (G2) winner Stel My Corona for owner Tony Doughtie in the sixth race on the card. The son of Stel Corona beat a good field in the Breeders’ Futurity and enters well rested, as this is his first out since Oct. 6.

"I've always liked Stel My Corona," Jones said. "He's a good horse and he's been training well. I also have Henoshersecret (in the 4th race). He ran a good fourth in the Golden State Million Futurity and he was flying at the end. He was coming on so strong and just missed running third."

Abigail Kawananakoa's Native Tea Rose competed in the All American final and faces Aha Moment in the eighth. Like Aha Moment, Native Tea Rose broke her maiden here before traveling to Ruidoso. Her connections are looking forward to her first start since the All American.

"Native Tea Rose is such a physically impressive filly," said trainer Cody Joiner. "She looks like a 3-year-old. Jockey Cody Jensen took her on the track on Sunday morning and he’s happy with how she's doing. He knows her as well as anyone.

"She's a beast," Jensen added. "She trains like an older filly and she has a great mind. These trials are very exciting for all of us involved because they show the accumulation of hard work for the entire year."

Joiner's stable is also represented by the Corona Cartel colt Class Jump, a full brother to champion Carters Cartel and a maiden winner at Los Alamitos on November 3. The trainer also saddles Distant Fury, a filly by FDD Dynasty, who finished seventh in the Rainbow Futurity (G1) earlier this year. Owned by Dick Grebe and Billy Smith, Distant Fury broke her maiden here on October 20.

Abigail K. Kawananakoa's Tres Queen is another top runner from Joiner's arsenal. The Tres Seis filly is out of Los Alamitos Million Futurity winner First Place Queen and she most recently finished second in a local allowance test on October 26. She also won her trials to the All American Futurity in mid-August. The FDD Dynasty gelding Kat Quick, a two-time winner at Los Alamitos, including an allowance victor on November 3, is another solid sprinter from the Joiner's barn.

Other top names in the trials include Seperate Interest and Amore La Blue, the second and third place finishers in the Golden State Million Futurity (G1), plus fellow finalists Watch Linda Ballet and Bingo. Dash For Cash Futurity (G1) finalist The August Heat and Golden State Juvenile Stakes (R) winner Jess Being Valiant are among the other top names that will participate in the trials.

Owned by the Estate of Kim Kessinger and trained by Mike Casselman, the Separatist colt Separate Interest has finished second or better in all three of his starts at Los Alamitos and only the great One Dashing Eagle finished ahead of him in the Golden State Million. He will race in the 10th race of the night.

"I am thrilled to have Seperate Interest in my barn," Casselman said. "I knew Kim forever and I miss him dearly. I was honored when his family told me that I was going to train this horse. It's been a thrill. We ran second in the Golden State, but that's about as good as one can expect when you are facing a horse like One Dashing Eagle. Seperate Interest came back in good form and he's doing well going into the trials."

Joe Bassett has twice won the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity, first with world champion Blues Girl Too in 2006 and with I Like The Odds in 2011. His impressive group of runners for these trials is headed by the aforementioned Amore La Blue, the daughter of Mr Jess Perry and out of Blues Girl Too, who will compete in the evening’s fifth race.

"She ran her heart out and I was proud of her performance in the Golden State Million," Bassett said. "One Dashing Eagle was so far ahead of her in the Golden State Million final that I am hoping that she never realized that she got beat in that race. She pulled up great after the race and we have freshened her up the last three weeks for these trials. I have a couple of other 2-year-olds that seem to be peaking at the right time. Fit For Glory (in the 11th race) is one horse that I really like. He keeps getting better and better and he's coming off of a third-place finish to Jess Being Valiant."

Bassett conditions Jess Being Valiant for owner Howard Nichols. The colt by Valiant Hero qualified to the Ed Burke Million Futurity last year and was very sharp in his Golden State Juvenile victory. He has the tough job of taking on Aha Moment and Native Tea Rose in the eighth race.

"He had a quarter crack issue one month before the Golden State Million trials," Bassett said. "I think he would have made the Golden State Million final if it wasn't for that setback. He's now leveled off and he's doing really well. He's not a big horse, but he trains hard all of the time. He's a hard worker."

Another horse to watch from Bassett's barn is the stakes winner Tell Of The Past, who races for the Estate Of Kim Kessinger. Tell Of The Past will compete in the ninth race against a big time field that included multiple Grade 1 finalist Fires Blazin, PCQHRA Breeders’ Futurity finalist Far Niente and Rainbow Futurity finalist Scatmandu.

"Tell Of The Past ended up as the 13th fastest qualifier to the Golden State Million and to be honest I was expecting better than that," Bassett said. "I think that he had been going through a growth spurt around the time of the Golden State Million trials and that probably affected him. He's leveled out now and I think he's going to do well."

Arnold Gonzalez’s Fires Blazin is one of only three runners to qualify to both the Ed Burke Million Futurity (G1) and Golden State Million Futurity. Watch Linda Ballet, who sees action in the 13th race of the night, and One Dashing Eagle are the other two qualifiers.

Salvador Pimienta's Bingo ran against Tell Of The Past in the John Deere Los Alamitos Juvenile and most recently raced in the Golden State Million finale. The sharp looking gelding by Tres Seis finished ninth in the million-dollar final, but his connections are hopeful that he will bounce back in third race.

"He's looking good," said trainer Felix Gonzalez. "We gave him some time to rest and he's been doing well since he's come back to training. (One Dashing Eagle) kicked dirt in his face and I think that intimidated in the Golden State Million. If Bingo had drawn an outside post and I think he would have run a better final. We're hopeful about Bingo going into these trials."

One of the top newcomers that will race in the Los Alamitos Two Million trials is Bobby Cox's The August Heat, the third place finisher in the Grade 1, $425,565 Dash For Cash Futurity and a second-place finisher in a trial to the Grade 1, $1 million Texas Classic Futurity. He’ll compete in the 6th race of the night against a quality field headed by Governor’s Cup Futurity (RG2) winner Secretly Hot, Golden State Million finalist Gold Flames On Fire and the aforementioned futurity winner Stel My Corona.

"(The August Heat) is a super nice runner," said Jaime Gomez, who trains the gelding by Corona Cartel. "I welcomed this horse to my barn about four weeks ago and I've been very impressed with him. I worked him 220 yards from the gate on August 10 and he stopped the clock in :11.90. Rodrigo Aceves worked him and he came back so happy telling me that he was a running son of a gun."

NOTES: Nine of the 10 horses that ran in the Golden State Million are back to compete in the trials to the Los Alamitos Two Million. The list of trial hopefuls includes six Governor’s Cup Futurity finalists and five finalists to the PCQHRA Breeders’ Futurity and Ed Burke Million Futurity. There are three Rainbow Futurity graduates and two qualifiers each from the All American, Wild West and Rocky Mountain futurities. Other top futurities represented by one horse in the trials are: the Mile High Futurity, Dash For Cash Futurity, Oklahoma Futurity (G2), John Deere Los Alamitos Juvenile Challenge and Bitterroot Futurity (RG3).