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Field set for Maiden Stakes


February 25, 2009     E-mail this page to a friend!

Utah-bred A Famous Dial wins his Maiden Stakes trial by 1¾ lengths on February 7, 2009
(photo by Scott Martinez, courtesy of Los Alamitos Race Course)
By Orlando Gutierrez, Los Alamitos Race Course

With an evenly matched field of ten runners, Saturday night’s $141,750 Los Alamitos Maiden Stakes figures to be an outstanding betting race. Following is an expanded look at this week’s contenders complete with a summary of their trial race and comments from the connections of each competitor.

The race’s fastest-qualifier from trial night on February 7th, Fire Is On will put his unbeaten record on the line in Saturday’s finals. A debut winner against maiden competition on January 2nd, he went on to run the fastest 330-yard time of the current 2009 meet, blazing the way home in a rapid 16.746 seconds. Fire Is On’s unblemished record would remain intact through his second start, when he scored a gritty nose victory over post-time favorite Royal Proclamation in his trial to the Maiden Stakes.

“He shinbucked before we could get a start in him last year, but we didn't rush him back,” said the gelding’s owner Daniel Reynoso. “We just gave him enough time to heal up and brought him back when he was ready. I've never had a Grade I runner or a first-class type of a racehorse or anything, but I'm hoping that this horse can be my first. I'm pretty sure about it. I think he's really talented and has a world of potential. Maybe he can be the one.”

A runner-up last time out behind the highly regarded Fire Is On, Royal Proclamation began the 2009 meeting with only two starts under his belt, but did seem to bring some past class with him from Ruidoso Downs last season.

Third behind PCQHRA Breeders’ Futurity finalist The Stylish Side and Rainbow Juvenile Stakes winner Buildemhigh in only his second start, he was victorious in his sophomore debut by a half-length on January 10th.

Following that effort, he led in the early stages of his trial to the Maiden Stakes before being past late by the aforementioned Fire Is On. Owned by J Garvan Kelly and Nancy Yearsley, he is one of two competitors in this race that the duo will send out along with tenth-fastest qualifier Pipers Tune.

“We dodged a bullet at the end with Pipers Tune,” said her co-owner Garvan Kelly, referring to his filly finishing 5/1000ths of a second ahead of Feature David for the final qualifying time. “I think Royal Proclamation is a genuine derby prospect while Pipers Tune is good at this distance because she's a tiny little thing. Our nickname for her is the 'Flying Peanut'. She's got a big heart and is a very honest filly, which are great qualities to have because it means she'll be right there in the final.”

Owner Robert H. Williams also brings a formidable hand into the race, as he qualified two finalists to the race with A Famous Dial and Deep Creek Bobbie. Third in her trial after a bumped start, Deep Creek Bobbie was one of five fillies to qualify out of an extremely productive trial heat. A Famous Dial didn’t have a good trip away from the gates either, as the Felipe Quintero-trained gelding was pinballed at the start, but went on to demolish the field by nearly two lengths despite the poor trip. A homebred from the state of Utah, both he and Deep Creek Bobbie were sired by the same stallion, Mark My Dial.

“If he ever breaks clean . . . ,” trainer Felipe Quintero said of the trouble-prone A Famous Dial. “He's had trouble in a lot of his starts but he always finishes strong. We've been working with him in the mornings. We broke him out of the gate recently and he did well. It's helped him a lot.”

In addition to those two finalists, Felipe Quintero will also have a third horse in this year’s Los Alamitos Maiden Stakes with the eighth-fastest qualifier Irenes Choice. A finalist in last year’s Kindergarten Futurity, she is one of only two horses in this race, along with Ed Burke Million Futurity finalist Pipers Tune, that brings Grade I experience into Saturday’s final.

“Irenes Choice also made it to the race,” said Quintero, referring to the filly that he and his father, Felipe Quintero, Sr., campaign. “She's my own horse, so it's a sentimental thing to watch her qualify. She was very sore after running in the Kindergarten Futurity final last year and at one point I didn't know if she would ever race again. Her back was pretty sore so we gave her time off. I don't think she liked the mud too much on trial night. Her jockey (Rodrigo Aceves) said that she was bouncing up and down and never got a hold of the track. With her, we're just thrilled with the fact that she made the final.”

Qualifying fourth fastest to this event was the regally bred filly Jessthisgirl. Although this filly’s mother never raced, her second dam, The Louisiana Girl, was an outstanding producer of talented racehorses. Among her offspring is 2002’s AQHA Champion Aged Stallion Jess Louisiana Blue and La Primera Del Ano Derby winner Louisiana Eye Opener, a seven-time winner from only ten starts. “The real reason why we bought this horse was her breeding,” said her co-owner Kim Kessinger. “I owned half of Whosleavingwho and a portion of Teller Cartel, so I know what kind of a horse you have to be to compare with company like theirs. Jessthisgirl has still got a lot of work to do, but we're pleased with how she's been running lately.”

Shining First Love is another dangerous contender. Despite the fact that she’s still a maiden, this filly has faced about as tough of competition as any other horse on the grounds here at Los Alamitos including four stakes winners and six Grade I-finalists. Her opponents include names like Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity winner Tres Passes, Ed Burke Million Futurity champion Foose, PCQHRA Breeders’ Futurity victor Sixish, five-time Grade I-finalist Winners Version, and California Juvenile Challenge winner Miracles N Perks. “Having to face those kind of horses would be tough for anyone,” commented her trainer Connie Hall. “I’ve been impressed with how many times she’s hit the board though. I think it says a whole lot about her toughness.”

Don’t count out trainer Scott Willoughby either. He could make some noise with Hard Lining, a talented filly that’s looked like a new horse since the start of her three-year-old campaign. Earlier this season, she captured her sophomore debut by nearly a length on January 4th. “A win always helps to boost the self-confidence of any horse,” said her trainer Scott Willoughby. “I think that was true with this filly too. Even before she ever won a race, she was still getting a lot of experience, but of course a win always helps. I don't think she's reached her full potential yet either because she's still improving and figuring things out for herself.”

Last, but not least, is La Petite Azoom, a horse that’s small in stature, but big on talent. Fifth in her trial, she was one of five horses to qualify out of her trial. “This filly is so small,” said her trainer Chris O'Dell. “She's about the tiniest horse you'll ever see, but she's really quick. With this filly, her main issue is her distance limitations. She's a rocket ship out of the gates, but can't always hold on the whole way. She's just about always ahead at the first call, but has trouble finishing if the race is much further than 300 yards.”

Pedigree Notes by Michael Zynda:

Fire Is On—Three-year-old gelding by Walk Thru Fire out of the Sir Alibi mare Micheles Alibi, who won seven races and banked $37,194 lifetime.
Micheles Alibi was also a finalist in the Grade II PCQHRA Breeders' Derby in 1998.

Royal Proclamation—Three-year-old gelding by A Regal Choice out of the Rare Form mare Rule The Skies. Hails from a terrific female family, as his second dam is Sky Chicks, one of J Garvan Kelly & Nancy Yearsley's finest broodmares to date. Aside from Rule The Skies, who won the Miss Blackhawk Stakes at Prairie Meadows in 2004 and was a multiple graded stakes-finalist, Sky Chicks also produced two standout runners in Dutch Schultz (Earned $356,668, Won Grade II El Primero Del Ano Derby in 2005) and Spike It And Fly (Earner of $179,817, Grade I Southern California Derby in 2006).

A Famous Dial—Three-year-old gelding by Mark My Dial out of the unstarted Dash Ta Fame mare A Famous New Face. By a somewhat lesser known stallion, Mark My Dial is a seven-time winner of over $200,000. He made a name for himself during his two-year-old year, winning his first four starts of the season, including a pair of Grade II stakes races in the New Mexican Spring Futurity and the Zia Futurity, in what was a brilliant freshman campaign for the runner.

Jessthisgirl—Three-year-old filly by Feature Mr Jess out of the unraced Special Effort mare This Girl Is Special. The first foal out of this mare, she traces back to a dynamite female family. Jessthisgirl's second dam is The Louisiana Girl, who produced a number of first-class racehorses including 2002 AQHA Champion Aged Stallion Jess Louisiana Blue, La Primera Del Ano Derby winner Louisiana Eye Opener, the $112,804 earner Fed Ex Together, the six-time winner Call Me Fed Ex, and Kansas Futurity victor Jessthelouisianagirl.

Shining First Love—Three-year-old filly by First Down Dash out of the Rare Form mare Nancys True Love. Filly sports very nice bloodlines, as her second dam is Keep On Shining, the mother of the well-respected sire Shazoom. Nancys True Love, who hit a high note in qualifying to the Grade I Heritage Place Derby in 1999, won four races lifetime and earned $41,409. Shining First Love is a half-sister to a pair of capable runners including the three-time graded stakes-finalist Loves To Shine and Shining Strawfly, an earner of nearly $40,000, who also qualified to the Grade II Sam Houston Derby.

Hard Lining—Three-year-old filly by Hawkish out of the Chicks Beduino mare Chickasis. A half-sister to last year's Governor's Cup Futurity winner Hard Hitting, she hails from a quality female family that also produced the current 300-yard track record holder Lassen County and the nine-time winner Secretly Seymour.

Deep Creek Bobbie—Three-year-old filly by Mark My Dial out of the unplaced Splash Bac mare Missy Splash. She is one of two finalists in this race sired by Mark My Dial.

Irenes Choice—Three-year-old filly by A Regal Choice out of the No Drift (TB) mare Lady Gates Again. The daughter of a nine-time winner of nearly $30,000, she is one of 13 horses of racing age to come from this broodmare including Read My Lipstick, an eleven-time winner of $112,408, who ran second in the Grade I Mildred N. Vessels Memorial Handicap and set a new track record at Lone Star Park for 350 yards in 1997.

La Petite Azoom—Three-year-old filly by Azoom out of the Mr Jess Perry mare St Pats Tea. A two-time graded stakes-winner of $95,791, St Pats Tea captured the TQHA Sires' Cup Derby and the Louisiana Champions Day Derby in 2001. Following her retirement, she became a nice producer of runners as well, as La Petite Azoom is a half-sister to Firecracker Derby winner St Pats First and First Tea Rose, a finalist in the Grade I Sam Houston Futurity.

Pipers Tune—Three-year-old filly by Bono Jazz out of the Royal Quick Dash mare Dream Mirage, who won over the Orange County oval in 2005 and retired with $5,979 in earnings.


Reynoso thinks Fire Is On could be the one


When Fire Is On walked into the starting gates for his trial to the Los Alamitos Maiden Stakes last Saturday night, he only had one career start to his credit. After sitting out his entire freshman season, the promising gelding was finally unveiled on January 2nd in a 330-yard maiden race for three-year-olds. A bit of a puzzle for handicappers that night, he only had two works on his tab and neither of them were an indicator of the kind of race that he was about to run. In the end, bettors simply weren't quite sure what to do with him and he was sent off at long odds of 30-to-1. Fire Is On went to deliver a big surprise.

After breaking in slightly at the start, Fire Is On immediately began to assert his superiority over the outmatched field of seven. A rocket ship out of the gate, he sizzled home in a blazing-fast 330-yard clocking of 16.746 seconds, the meet's fastest time at this distance, taking the race by a comfortable length and a quarter under little or no urging from jockey Santiago Mendez. He earned a dynamite 98-speed index for the effort.

"When he debuted I expected him to run a nice race, but I never saw a race like that coming from him that night," said his owner Daniel Reynoso. "I guess he surprised me a little bit too along with everybody else. I thought it was a very impressive race."

Given the outstanding purses available for two-year-old Quarter Horses competing at Los Alamitos, there is certainly a financial incentive to starting horses during their juvenile season. With three different futurities worth at least $1,000,000 or more, Los Alamitos boasts the richest two-year-old racing program in the country. Regardless of what was at stake, Reynoso remained unfazed and dedicated to doing what was best for the horse. "I thought he needed more time, so we gave him more time," Daniel said. "He shinbucked before we could get a start in him last year, but we didn't rush him. We just gave him enough time to heal up and brought him back when he was ready. I'm so glad that we waited. I think everyone can see now that we made a good decision."

Reynoso was right. Following his impressive maiden bow, Fire Is On turned in another equally wowing effort in the trials to the Los Alamitos Maiden Stakes. After breaking in second and dueling with the favorite Royal Proclamation throughout, he managed to surge just before the wire and put away that foe by a short nose decision. Fire Is On demonstrated a remarkable turn of foot at the end of the race, running the final 1/8 of a mile in 9.40 seconds and setting the fastest-qualifying time of the night.

In the past, several runners that have either won or performed strongly in the Los Alamitos Maiden Stakes have used that race as a springboard for success later on in their careers. With continued development and a little bit of racing luck, Reynoso believes Fire Is On could follow a similar path. "I still remember when he was sort of nervous and wild back when he was a colt," Daniel recalled. "Then we made the decision to castrate him and that really helped him a lot. Now look what he's done. He's come a long way."

A three-year-old son of Walk Thru Fire, Fire Is On could be part of a breakout year for his sire, who Reynoso also owns an interest in. "I have a share of the stallion Walk Thru Fire, so I've always been a big fan of his offspring," commented Daniel. "I also have a three-year-old by the same sire named Taken Fire that I think should run pretty well this year. He shinbucked last year too, but should be back on the racetrack soon and is being pointed towards the El Primero Del Ano Derby trials. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for a good year for them. I think it would really help his name to have a successful year and attract the breeders."

Originally from Mexico, the 62-year-old Reynoso has been living in California for over 40 years now and first got into racing about ten or twelve years ago. "I've never had a Grade I runner or a first-class type of a racehorse or anything, but I'm hoping that this horse can be my first," Daniel said. "I'm pretty sure about it. I think he's really talented and has a world of potential. Maybe he can be the one."

La Petite Azoom is little engine that could


Qualifying to and preparing horses for big money stakes races at Los Alamitos is nothing new for trainer Chris O'Dell. Best known for his magnificent conditioning job with the three-time AQHA Champion and millionaire Catchmeinyourdreams, he brings a strong chance into Saturday night's $141,750 Los Alamitos Maiden Stakes with the diminutive yet talented filly La Petite Azoom. The aptly named runner, whom O'Dell openly acknowledges is short on size, but not on talent, qualified ninth-fastest to the finals along with four other runners from a very productive trial race.

"This filly is so small," said O'Dell. "She's about the tiniest horse you'll ever see, but she's really quick and she's got great breeding. I guess I've had her for three races now and I've been pleased with how she's run since we've had her. (Owners Christian and Ru Anna) Singletarys are just thrilled that she qualified to this stakes race."

A three-year-old daughter of Azoom out of the quality Mr Jess Perry mare St Pats Tea, she comes from very nice bloodlines. A five-time winner of $95,791, St Pats Tea won the TQHA Sires' Cup Derby and the Louisiana Champions Day Derby at the age of three and has proven to be a nice producer of runners as well. Aside from La Petite Azoom, she is also the dam of the three-time stakes winner St Pats First and First Tea Rose, who was a finalist in the Grade I Sam Houston Futurity and the Grade II Firecracker Futurity in 2006.

One of seven fillies that qualified to the Maiden Stakes, she'll try to spring an upset over this talent-laden group of ten. In order to do that, La Petite Azoom will have to call on every ounce of her prior class, earned by facing off against a number of superstar runners last season. In her trial to the Kindergarten Futurity, she collided with three notable horses including a pair of Grade I-winners in Tres Passes and Revv It Up as well as Amador Gold, who ran second in the Grade III New Mexico Juvenile Challenge at Ruidoso Downs. Her company lines wouldn't soften up any this year either, as she drew in with Kindergarten Futurity-finalist Irenes Choice in her trial to the Maiden Stakes. "She's run against some real toughies," Chris added. "There were five horses who qualified out of that trial. I'd say it was definitely the toughest one of the night."

Despite the fact that La Petite Azoom was defeated by four other horses in her trial, all of which she will be forced to meet again on Saturday, O'Dell still feels like there are some positive things to take away from her effort. "I was pleased with the fact that she ran the fastest speed index that she ever has before," commented O'Dell, who earlier this year sadded Terrific Energy to victory in the Grade 1 Charger Bar Handicap. "That was encouraging. With this filly, her main issue is her distance limitations. She's a rocket ship out of the gates, but can't always hold on the whole way. She's just about always ahead at the first call, but has trouble finishing if the race is much further than 300 yards."

Probable post-time favorite Fire Is On will likely attract a majority of the attention in this $141,750 stakes event and for good reason too, as the undefeated three-year-old appears to have a very bright future in store. "I think he's definitely the one people are the most afraid of," Chris admitted. "He looked really good in that win and I think he's got a lot of room to improve still, which should make him dangerous. We know that we're going to be a longshot in this race and that's okay. Longshots win sometimes too you know? I'll say this, I don't know how well all of the other horses that qualified have been training since the trials, but I know we've been training great. She's sound and ready to roll."

Trials report


Horsemen around the nation are expecting a solid season from the stallion Walk Thru Fire in 2009. After enjoying a breakout year in 2005 thanks to champion 2-year-old Higher Fire and Grade 1 futurity winner Gold Nugget Rd, Walk Thru Fire was syndicated for a large sum of money, which led to him having the opportunity to breed to some of the finest mares in the nation. His first crop of 2-year-olds out of those blue hen mares will be racing in 2009, which means that a couple of superstar Walk Thru Fire babies could be in the cards. Then again, Walk Thru Fire may already have his first big star of '09 courtesy of the 3-year-old Fire Is On.

Trained by Miguel Rodriguez for owner/breeder Daniel Reynoso, Fire Is On has been running lights out during the current Los Alamitos season. The lightly raced California-bred sprinter made his career debut a winning one when posting a 1¼-length victory on the meet's opening night. He improved his record to two wins in as many starts after edging J. Garvan Kelly and Nancy Yearsley's Royal Proclamation by a nose while posting the fastest qualifying time to the $141,750 Los Alamitos Maiden Stakes on Saturday night. Unraced during his 2-year-old campaign, his maiden victory set the meet's fastest time at 330 yards. With Santiago Mendez aboard, Fire Is On's trial win came with an outstanding time of :17.305 at 350 yards over a wet fast track.

"He shin bucked as a 2-year-old so we stopped on him right away,"

Rodriguez explained. "We treated him and then gave him about eight months off. We brought him (in November) and gave him a couple of workouts and then we waited for the start of this year. We didn't know what to expect before his first race. He looked impressive to us during his workouts and we loved the fact that he didn't break all that well in his first start but still came flying at the end to win going away. He came back in great shape tonight and now we'll go back and try to improve the horse for the final."

Rodriguez has yet to win a big money race at Los Alamitos, which is something that he is hoping to change in the weeks to come. Rodriguez will saddle BF Regal Rage in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby on February 20 and JP Rhythm in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Championship on February 21. A week later, he will send out Fire Is On in the rich Maiden Stakes final on February 28.

"I've been so close to a stakes win here before with horses like Coronas Private Jet, First To Bed and Princess Chloe but it just hasn't happened," the trainer added. "I had a horse in the Ed Burke Million Futurity last year, which was a great thrill but I still need to win a stakes. I won a stakes at Fairplex Park and another at Wyoming Downs.

Hopefully Los Alamitos will be next. The Los Alamitos Maiden Stakes may not be a Grade 1 race but it does have a Grade 1 purse, and if the money is in my pocket, I'll feel like a Grade 1 winner," Rodriguez added with a smile.

The trainer remembers that Tomas Carlos' Princess Chloe ran fourth in the Los Alamitos Maiden Stakes two years ago against a field that included eventual champion 3-year-old Little Bit Of Baja and Maiden Stakes winner and eventual multiple stakes winner A Mere Splash. Rodriguez would now love nothing more than to see Reynoso's Fire Is On develop into a horse with similar accomplishments as those of the aforementioned stars.

"(Fire Is On) ran a fast race tonight and he didn't seem to mind the mud but I think he can run a better race in the final," the trainer added. "I would just love to see a clean race where everyone has a chance."

The complete list of qualifiers is as follows: Fire Is On (:17.305), Royal Proclamation (:17.315), A Famous Dial (:17.465), Jessthisgirl (:17.515), Shining First Love (:17.565), Hard Lining (:17.575), Deep Creek Bobbie (:17.580), Irenes Choice (:17.625), La Petite Azoom (:17.64), Pipers Tune (:17.665).



Fire Is On's victory came in a trial that produced half of the 10 qualifiers to the Maiden Stakes final. Royal Proclamation, Shining First Love, Irenes Choice and La Petite Azoom also qualified from this trial.

Conditioned by Paul Jones, Royal Proclamation made only two starts during his freshman campaign. His career debut was an eighth place finish at Remington Park in mid-May and his second start was a solid third place finish in a trial to the Rainbow Futurity at Ruidoso Downs. Trained by Paul Jones, the son of A Regal Choice broke his maiden at Los Alamitos on January 10 and was on the lead before getting caught at the wire by Fire Is On in this trial heat. One of two qualifiers for Kelly and Yearsley in this year's Maiden Stakes, Royal Proclamation finished with the second fastest qualifying time of :17.315. Trial winner and 10th fastest qualifier Pipers Tune will also represent Kelly and Yearsley in the Maiden Stakes final.

"We dodged a bullet at the end with Pipers Tune," said Kelly, referring to his filly finishing 5/1000ths of a second ahead of Feature David for the final qualifying time. "I think Royal Proclamation is a genuine derby prospect while Pipers Tune is good at this distance because she's a tiny little thing. Our nickname for her is the 'Flying Peanut'.

She's got a big heart and is a very honest filly, which are great qualities to have because it means she'll be right there in the final."



Robert H. Williams' A Famous Dial posted the most visually impressive trial win of the evening, as the gelding by Mark My dial blew away his rivals by 1¾ lengths in a time of :17.465. A Famous Dial was bumped hard at the start but he fought through the trouble to lead by daylight practically the entire race.

"If he ever breaks clean..." trainer Felipe Quintero said. "He's had trouble in a lot of his starts but he always finishes strong. We've been working with him in the mornings. We broke him out of gate recently and he did well. It's helped him a lot. I've never met Mr. Williams but hopefully I'll have the opportunity to meet him on the night of the Maiden Stakes final."

The Quintero-trained Deep Creek Bobbie will also represent Williams, who lives in Utah, in the February 28 final. Quintero will have one other horse running in the Maiden Stakes, and as a matter of fact it is one of his own.

"Irenes Choice also made it to the race," said Quintero, referring to the filly that he and his father, Felipe Quintero Sr., campaign. "She's my own horse, so it's a sentimental thing to watch her qualify. She was very sore after running in Kindergarten Futurity final last year and at one point I didn't know if she would ever race again. Her back was pretty sore so we gave her time off. I don't think she liked the mud too much tonight. (Jockey Rodrigo Aceves) said that she was bouncing up and down and never got a hold of the track. With her, we're just thrilled with the fact that she made the final."



Kim Kessinger and Mason King's Jessthisgirl posted a neck victory in the fourth of six trials on the way to qualifying with the fourth fastest time of :17.515. Trained by Joe Bassett and ridden by Eddie Garcia, Jessthisgirl has now won each of her last two starts. The Feature Mr Jess filly also ran seventh in the Ed Burke Memorial Juvenile last year.

"From her maiden win to this race I think she's improved tremendously," said Garcia, this track's all-time leading pilot. "She was a couple of lengths better tonight and if she improves like that again we'll be in good shape in the final. Even if she runs this same race in the final, we'll be right there in the final. She has a lot of class. She's got a good late kick and she felt great coming back after this race."

Garcia, who won the Maiden Stakes with A Mere Splash two years ago, had never been aboard Jessthisgirl before piloting her to that maiden win on January 23. "I'm happy that I've had a chance to ride this filly. I just want to ride and win a lot of races, so it's great when you can pick up such a live horse."



Santiago Mendez, the winning rider aboard fastest qualifier Fire Is On, is one motivated young rider. Only 21-years-old, Mendez was nominated for the 2008 Val Tonks Award presented to an up and coming young rider at Los Alamitos but lost the award to Carlos Huerta. Mendez is using the Val Tonks Award as a source of motivation in 2009. "Even though I didn't win the award it has inspired me to work harder and do a better job this year," said Mendez, a native of Puebla, Mexico. "I'm still young and I still have a lot to learn but with God's help I'm hoping that I can keep improving as a rider."

Mendez credits trainer Miguel Rodriguez for a lot of the success he enjoyed last year as the winner of 52 Quarter Horse races at Los Alamitos. "He has always helped me and thanks to him I am doing well this year."



J. Garvan Kelly and Nancy Yearsley's Value The Man will be in action in the Los Alamitos Winter Championship on February 21, and the owners are excited about the veteran's chances. "I love horses like Value The Man,"

Kelly said. "He's one of those good campaigners and we just love those old geldings that qualify to big races and always give it their all. If he draws the outside post in the Winter Championship I wouldn't bet against him. If he has room to run out there, he'll be closing hard. He can run the final 100 yards as well as anyone. He just doesn't have as good a lick in the first 75 yards of a race.



David Brownell's Shining First Love will be the veteran horse in the Maiden Stakes final as she'll be making her 12th career start in the $141,750 final. Pipers Tune and Jessthisgirl will be the second most experienced horses with eight starts each....Sixth fastest qualifier Hard Lining is a half sister to Governor's Cup Futurity winner Hard Hitting.

Their mother is Chickasis, who was recently named the Broodmare of the Year at the 2008 PCQHRA Annual Awards Banquet. Hard Lining runs for owner Ed Allred and trainer Scott Willoughby.