AJS Anna Smoke Tops Governor's Cup Futurity Trials

The homebred gelding wins Saturday at Los Alamitos.

Edited press release

AJS Anna Smoke won the third Governor's Cup Futurity trial at Los Alamitos on Saturday. PHOTO: Scott Martinez

Rod MacPherson, Jr.’s AJS Anna Smoke picked up his fourth win from his first five career starts while posting the fastest qualifying time in Saturday’s trials for the Governor’s Cup Futurity (RG2) at Los Alamitos.

A total of 63 runners competed in eight trials with the horses with the 10 fastest times moving on to the final to be held as part of California Breeders Champions Night on July 30. The evening will be an all stakes Quarter Horse racing card headed by both the Governor’s Cup Futurity and Governors’ Cup Derby. The first 3,200 fans in atttendance that night will receive a Los Alamitos Western Belt Buckle with their paid nighttime admission.

In the futurity trials, AJS Anna Smoke showed the form that helped him win his first three career outings impressively. The Separatist gelding, who is trained by John Cooper, had his only defeat when he finished out of the money in the Grade 1 $1,100,000 Ed Burke Million Futurity on June 19.

Bred by MacPherson’s late wife, Anna MacPherson, AJS Anna Smoke made his connections proud with an impressive 1 ¼ length trial win, an effort that was reminiscent of his convincing wins earlier this year.

“I thought if he ran tonight like he did in any of his first three starts, we’d be right there,” said MacPherson, Jr. after AJS Anna Smoke’s win. “But if he ran like he did in his last outing, then we would have been nowhere. Fortunately he ran like he did early on. He ran a pretty good race. He’s a solid horse.”

Ridden by Cesar De Alba, AJS Anna Smoke covered the 350 yards in :17.727, which was 1/1000ths of a second faster than second-fastest qualifier Seared, who defeated Up For Dashing by a head in a time of :17.728 in the fifth trial. MacPherson will also be represented by 10th-fastest qualifier Kiddy Up Cowgirl, a Kiddy Up filly trained by James Glenn Jr.

James Glenn Jr. trains Seared for owner and breeder Ed Allred. Ridden by Eulices Gomez, Seared has won his last two outings following a third place finish in his career debut.

“He didn’t leave very well,” said Glenn about Seared. “He’s good in the gate, but he’s so big that he has trouble getting himself collected. The (early leader) probably had a length on him at the start. Eulices said he just pinned his ears back and just ran by (Up For Dashing).”

Seared’s dam is Escape The Fire, a lightly raced mare campaigned by Allred. Escape The Fire’s dam is the Thoroughbred In Excess mare Celestial Being (TB), who Allred also campaigned to wins at Del Mar and Oak Tree at Santa Anita in 2006.  Celestial Being was retired after winning her only two career starts. Big in size, Seared showed a strong late kick to seal this trial win. 

“You need to be patient, you let them grow into themselves,” said Glenn when asked about training a horse with Seared’s physique. “He’ll leave better when he’s matured into that big body. As the year goes on, he’ll love 400 yards. He’s been real sound and you want him to stay sound. You start thinking about him as an older horse so you don’t want to push them, you don’t want to hurt them. You want to develop them.” 

In addition to AJS Anna Smoke, Cooper trained two other Governor's Cup Futurity qualifiers. For Ron Hartley, Cooper qualified Myfavoritestreaker, the winner of the fourth trial, and American Force, the winner of the sixth trial. A gelding by Favorite Cartel, Myfavoritestreaker won his heat by a length in the fourth fastest qualifying time of :17.765, while the First Down Dash gelding American Force posted a half-length victory in the fifth fastest time of :17.841. 

“You don’t see many Chicks Beduinos out there on the track anymore, but his mother is by Chicks Beduino,” said Hartley about American Force. “Myfavoritestreaker is by Favorite Cartel. He’s one of my favorite stallions.”

Hartley bred Myfavoritestreaker, but he made the decision to sell his mother, Checkoutthestreaker, at the Los Alamitos Equine Sale last year.

“We’ve had a couple of foals out of her,” said John Firth, who raises Hartley’s babies at his Firth Ranch in Hemet. “Everything out of (Checkoutthestreaker) has run, but nothing that really jumped up and really get it done for us. Of course, by the time you sell her this is what they do. It looks like (Myfavoritestreaker) will get it done for us this year. He’s fired every single time.”

Firth Ranch enjoyed a big night on Saturday.  Owned and operated by John and Cathy Firth, Firth Ranch’s services include services include lay ups, breaking, foaling mares, breeding and sales prep. Qualifiers AJS Anna Smoke, American Force, Up For Dashing, Myfavoritestreaker all spent significant time at Firth Ranch.

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