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Everything you need to know about tonight's Ed Burke Million Futurity

June 20, 2009     E-mail this page to a friend!

By Orlando Gutierrez, Los Alamitos Race Course

Eighty-two horses met in 10 trials way back on June 6 in trials to determine the fields for the Ed Burke Million Futurity and the Ed Burke Juvenile. The name of the Million tells the purse-money story; the Juvenile carries a $30K purse.

The field for the Ed Burke Million Futurity
Post Horse                 Jockey            Odds
1 LD Fire A Luna 2-to-1
2 My Sexy Lady R Aceves 20-to-1
3 Shining First Dash S Mendez 30-to-1
4 Tools of Fire GR Carter, Jr. 8-to-1
5 Streakin Laquinta ES Garcia 5-to-1
6 Fire Specialist A Bautista 5-to-1
7 Dashingfordestiny C DeAlba 30-to-1
8 Rocco Rojo JP Andrade 6-to-1
9 Mollys Cartel C Rubio 30-to-1
10 Three Times the Toll R Sanchez 3-to-1

Notes: All horses carry 124 pounds. The Ed Burke Million Futurity is the 10th race on the June 20 race card, scheduled for approximately 10:36 Pacific Time.

The field for the Ed Burke Juvenile
Post Horse               Jockey            Odds
1 Show Me an Effort R Aceves 4-to-1
2 Preciouse Cartel FC Rubio 20-to-1
3 Arctic Winner S Mendez 30-to-1
4 No Mor Sno ES Garcia 3-to-1
5 Jitter Done C DeAlba 10-to-1
6 Miss Eye Stocks A Bautista 6-to-1
7 Carvalho R Sanchez 9-to-2
8 Baby Doll Run CA Bautista 15-to-1
9 Tylerite GR Carter, Jr. 8-to-1
10 Whole Lot of Karma JP Andrade 5-to-1

Notes: All horses carry 124 pounds. The Ed Burke Juvenile is the 9th race on the June 20 race card, scheduled for approximately 10:12 Pacific Time.

Mike Abraham is hoping that a big night is in store

The Grade I Ed Burke Million Futurity is the kind of race that breeders always dream about qualifying to. In fact, many owners and breeders will spend a lifetime trying to land a horse in the starting gates for a race such as the Ed Burke Million Futurity. The first leg of the rich Cash Bonanza Series, the Ed Burke Million Futurity boasts a healthy purse of $1,000,000 and a great deal of prestige on the national stage. While most breeders would be happy enough to have one of their babies qualify to a million dollar race, Mike Abraham was lucky enough to breed two qualifiers to this year's Ed Burke Million. The breeder and co-owner of fastest qualifier LD Fire, he also bred the fourth-fastest qualifier Tools Of Fire.

A dominant winner by nearly two lengths on trial night, LD Fire stamped herself as the early favorite for Saturday's Grade I event. "She ran the kind of race that just gives an owner chills," explained Mike Abraham. "Not only did she win really easily, but she was looking all around during the race and didn't even appear to be giving it her best. Then, after the race was over, I could tell that it didn't even take much energy out of her either. To me, she didn't even look tired afterwards. She's come back great since the trials too and now we're hoping for another big effort on Saturday."

Aside from the visually impressive nature of her trial win, LD Fire also stopped the timer in a blazing fast 350-yard clocking of :17.330. "I'd have to think that if she ran the same time back again in the finals that we would be awfully tough to beat," Mike commented. "There was a pretty good tailwind that night, but still if she were able to duplicate that same performance over again, I'd feel really good about our chances. I think that we're definitely the one to outrun. A lot of times you think you have the best horse in the race and you still get beat, but I wouldn't trade positions with anyone else in there."

By Walk Thru Fire, LD Fire is the third foal and second starter out of the classy mare Prima LD. "I bought Prima LD about two or three years ago while she was still at the racetrack," added Abraham. "Although she was still at the rack, I never even started her myself. By that point in her career, she had a couple of issues and I was only interested in breeding her anyways. She's really a beautiful mare though and she comes from a great family."

A dynamite runner on the racetrack, Prima LD was one of the finest Mexican imports to compete at Los Alamitos Race Course in recent years. After making her first eleven starts in Mexico, Prima LD arrived in the United States in late 2003 riding a five-race win streak, which she then increased to six straight after a victory in the Grade I Bayer Legend Derby Challenge Championship here at Los Alamitos. Throughout her 22-race career, Prima LD defeated over a dozen notable racehorses including standout distaffers like Ab What A Runner, Apollitical Time, Mini Rock, Cash For Kas, This Snow Is Cold, Mongoose Jet Eye, and Royaltime Classic, eventual stallions such as Latest Version, Brookstone Bay, Jesse James Jr, and Coronas Prospect, and hard-knocking geldings like Planet Holland, Catchmeinyourdreams, Shakem Elvis, and Snow Skier.

"When you go back and look at all of the incredible racehorses that she beat over the years, it's really pretty astonishing," said Abraham. "She raced with the best and beat them time and time again. That's what made her so attractive to me as a broodmare."

A victim of a troubled trip in her first start, LD Fire was roughed up coming out of the gate in her career debut. "We really had a lot of expectations with her going into that first start," Mike explained. "She had been working great and we were all really anxious to see how she'd run. Right after the break one of the other horses came in on her and intimidated her at the start. Then they bumped three or four times and she actually walked away from the race with a few cuts on her legs. Anyways, even after the trouble that she had, she was still able to close some ground from way out of it and run third. That's when we knew we probably had something."

A powerfully-built brown filly, it can sometimes take LD Fire a few jumps out of the gate to find her best stride. "Her dad Walk Thru Fire is really a big sire and this filly seems to have inherited some of that size," Mike explained. "She's always been a really nice individual with great size, but because of that I think it usually takes her a couple of jumps before she finds that next gear. Then she's able to explode away from the field and show that acceleration that she's been doing lately. I'd say that's probably due to the fact that she's so big."

In addition to LD Fire, Abraham also bred the aforementioned Tools Of Fire, who qualified fourth-fastest for trainer Mike Joiner. "Obviously I want my filly to win the race, but I'm definitely going to be rooting for Tools Of Fire to run second," said Abraham with a laugh. "It's a pretty nice position to be in to have been associated with two different horses in such a major race like this. I sold Tools Of Fire for $30,000 at the Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale last year. I would have like to have gotten a little bit more for her, but I was really glad to see that she was going to be in the hands of good owners like Billy Smith and Pat Guthrie. When you breed as many as I do, you can't keep them all, so it's inevitable that you're going to have to sell some. There are no regrets as far as I'm concerned though. I'm delighted that both of these fillies are running so well."

Spotlight on fillies in 2009 Ed Burke Million Futurity

The money will be flowing at Los Alamitos on Saturday night, as 10 of the best and most fortunate 2-year-olds in the nation will be in action for the opening leg of the Los Alamitos Cash Bonanza—the $1 million Ed Burke Million Futurity. The winner of the Ed Burke Million will earn $403,200.

Nine of the 10 horses in the Ed Burke Million Futurity are eligible to the Golden State Million and Los Alamitos Two Million futurities as well. If one of these nine—Streakin La Jolla is the only horse not eligible to both of these races—can sweep the three rich futurities, his or her connections will earn an additional $1 million from the Los Alamitos Cash Bonanza.

The Ed Burke Million Futurity has a great history of champions. Over the decade, seven different runners who triumphed in the Ed Burke have gone on to receive an AQHA Champion Two-year-old award at the end of the season. Such notable horses include standout colts like Foose, Hawkish, FDD Dynasty, and Carters Cartel, brilliant fillies such as Higher Fire and Corona Kool, and the hard-knocking millionaire gelding Dashing Knud. Although each and every finalist turned in a strong race in order to qualify to this year's event, the efforts turned in by the female contenders really seemed to stand out. Of the ten finalists, seven are fillies, including the race's fastest qualifier and four of the top five finalists.

Headlining this list of gifted freshmen fillies is Mike Abraham and Jaime Gomez's LD Fire. A speedy daughter of the five-time stakes winner Prima LD, she was spectacular on trial night, drawing off to win by nearly two lengths and recording the evening's fastest 350-yard qualifying time of :17.330. Ahead at every single call in the race, she steadily increased her margin of victory with each and every stride. A massively-built daughter of Walk Thru Fire, she experienced trouble in her career debut and really shined with the clean trip that she received in the trials.

Another nicely-bred filly with high expectations in Saturday night's $1,000,000 event is Gianni Samaja's Three Times The Toll. Unbeaten in her first two starts, she's out of the two-time derby finalist First Down Toll. After being unveiled on April 24th against maiden rivals, Three Times The Toll powered away to win that race by an easy length. Riding that impressive score, she brought a great deal of confidence into her trial, which she went on to dominate by a length and a quarter over one of the most competitive fields of the night. Among those left in her wake were Kindergarten Futurity winner Twin Spires, impressive maiden victor Cloned With Class, and the highly-regarded Env. The second-fastest qualifier to this year's Ed Burke, Three Times The Toll should be a force to be reckoned with on Saturday night.

The trials were also very kind to progeny of Walk Thru Fire, as the Burns Ranch Stallion qualified three of this year's ten finalists to the Ed Burke. In addition to the top qualifier LD Fire, Walk Thru Fire also sired the fourth- and fifth-fastest qualifiers Tools Of Fire and Fire Specialist. Undefeated since arriving in Southern California, Mike Joiner's Tools Of Fire has looked very sharp of late, taking her last two starts at Los Alamitos with relative ease. Fire Specialist could also surprise this group. Dismissed at odds of 7-to-1 in both her first and second outs, she went on to win both starts despite being neglected at the betting windows. A previous workmate of fastest-qualifier LD Fire, Fire Specialist has been highly regarded from the very start of this year.

Although the focus appears to be on the female runners in this year's Ed Burke, the three colts that qualified to this event could also pose a threat. Third-fastest qualifier Streakin Laquinta is one such a horse. Third behind the highly-touted Paul Jones runner Bring The Bling in his first start, Streakin Laquinta went on to break his maiden in his second career outing on Sunday, May 10th. A sparkling length and a half winner that night, he racked up back-to-back victories in his trial while earning a strong 93 speed index for the score. Out of the battle-tested broodmare A Sisstar, who competed in eighteen stakes races and earned over $100,000 throughout her career, he also comes from a dynamite female family.

Rounding out the male contenders is Rocco Rojo and the royally-bred Shining First Dash. One of three undefeated horses in this race, Rocco Rojo prevailed by three-quarters of a length in both of his outs despite poor trips. After being bumped and pinballed around at the start of his trial, he spurted clear of a strong field that included the favorite in last month's Kindergarten Futurity, Azshecanfly. Visually impressive in both wins, he could easily surprise this group with a winning type of an effort. Lastly, Shining First Dash could also be a factor. A three-quarter brother to the stallion Shazoom, he comes from extraordinary breeding lines and could run well in the finals for trainer Dennis Ekins.

Ed Burke Finalist Tools Of Fire has been red hot in California

What a difference a month makes. By early April of this year, Billy G. Smith and Pat Guthrie's Tools Of Fire had already made two starts at Sunland Park in New Mexico. In both outs, the two-year-old filly by Walk Thru Fire had been roughed up at the start and finished third after closing ground late in the race. Despite the lack of a win to her credit, trainer Mike Joiner, who remained convinced of the filly's true potential, elected to ship Tools Of Fire out to Southern California and point to the trials to the Ed Burke Million Futurity. Now a finalist in that event and a two-time winner from as many starts here at Los Alamitos Race Course, her luck has finally taken a turn for the better.

"She's really blossomed since coming out to California," said her co-owner Billy Smith. "I think she's handled the transition remarkably well and has been running great ever since arriving. It's hard to point to exactly what has made the biggest difference. I don't think it was the racetrack or the environment here as much as it was the fact that she's finally gotten some cleaner starts in her races and had a chance to run down the track a little bit further. Her first few races were at 300 yards and if you make any kind of a mistake going that short, then you're already in a tough spot. With the Ed Burke trials being at 350 yards, I think it's really helped to alleviate some of the trouble that she's had at the starting gate."

A horse that's been very prone to troubled trips and slow beginnings thus far this season, her connections feel like the impact of those mishaps has affected her psychologically. "In her first two starts in New Mexico she got completely run over at the start and had essentially no shot after the break," Smith commented. "They were very unclean trips and not what you like to see a two-year-old have to go through that early on in the year. I think after it happened to her twice like that, she just began to expect it and that's what's caused her to shy away a little bit in her races out here. Even though she won her first start here at Los Alamitos, she was so afraid of getting hit by the other horses the whole time that it caused her to veer in and out across traffic."

Regardless of her somewhat erratic behavior in her first local start here, Tools Of Fire prevailed by a half-length in impressive fashion after breaking out and bumping at the start. Fifth at the first call, she surged in the later stages of the race to get up for the victory. "I thought it was a very impressive race and really gave us a lot of confidence to move forward with her in the trials," Billy added. "We have always thought a lot of this filly, so it came as no surprise that she would turn in such a strong race. Her next out on trial night was really impressive too."

A three-quarter length winner that evening, she qualified fourth fastest to the $1,000,000 finals with a sharp 300-yard time of :17.485. "It's been really great to see her performing so well in these past two starts," said Smith. "We ran against the West Texas Futurity winner in our very first start back at Sunland Park and only got beat by a half-length, so we've always known that she could run. I think that experience that she got early on in the year was an asset, but we're hoping it won't turn out to be a double-edge sword. We think this filly is good enough to compete in the Golden State and Two Million trials later this fall, so we're hoping that she'll still be sharp enough for those races later in the year. She's already started four times this year, but at least she'll get a break before the Golden State trials come up in mid-October."

Also the co-owner of 2006 AQHA Champion Two-year-old Colt and millionaire FDD Dynasty alongside partners Pat Guthrie, Vessels Stallion Farm, Smith knows a good two-year-old runner when he sees one. "FDD Dynasty won the Ed Burke for us that same year, so we've already been down this road before and been lucky enough to come out on top," Billy commented. "I was one of Mike Joiner's very first clients when he started training in the early 1980's. We had some really good horses together over the years, including a number of New Mexico-bred stakes winners like Tahiti Blues and Chicks Goes Steppin. After that we started racing open-bred runners both in New Mexico and here in California and have done well together."

One of four of five horses that Smith currently has stabled here at Los Alamitos, Tools Of Fire remains one of his brightest prospects for the 2009 racing season. "Even though this filly was a January baby, she's never really been that big of a horse," Billy pointed out. "In fact, when we bought her she was pretty small. She was nicely put together and very well balanced, but she didn't have a lot of size. Now that she's getting older, she's grown up a lot, but not out. She's taller, but still doesn't carry a whole lot of weight. Even so, she's improved a great deal mentally. Tools Of Fire has always been a pretty hot filly, but lately I think she's started to calm down a little bit and figure out the game more."

Although she's shown improvement in that regard, Tools Of Fire will still need to work on her gate manners and breaking skills if she's going to perform well in Saturday's finals. "Realistically I don't think there is any way that she can win if she keeps leaving the gates like she has been," explained Smith. "It's the one area of her game that she still needs to improve on. You're simply not going to be able to outrun horses as talented as LD Fire and Three Times The Toll if you concede a bunch of ground to them at the start. This seems like a pretty strong group of two-year-olds this year and you're not going to be able to make any mistakes if you want to win some of the big races. That's what we're hoping for with our filly."

Trials Reports:

LD Fire is top qualifier to Ed Burke Million Futurity

It did not take long for Mike Abraham and Jaime Gomez's LD Fire to set the tone of the trials to the Ed Burke Million Futurity on Saturday at Los Alamitos. Competing in the first of 10 trials of the night, the California-bred filly sizzled to a 1-length win in the opening 350-yard trial to post an outstanding time of :17.330.

No one would be able to match her winning time and in fact her time was more than 1/10th of a second faster than second fastest qualifier Three Times The Toll. And all from a runner that came into this trial after finishing third in her debut start on May 9. LD Fire certainly learned her lessons well in that maiden race, as she came full of fire to become one of three runners sired by the outstanding stallion Walk Thru Fire to qualify to this year's Ed Burke Million. Walk Thru Fire's two other qualifiers were the Jaime Gomez-owned filly Fire Specialist and Billy Smith and Pat Guthrie's filly Tools Of Fire.

LD Fire is also one two Abraham-bred fillies to qualify to the June 20 final as well. Abraham also bred Tools Of Fire. In fact, the girls carried the day on Ed Burke trial night, as seven of the 10 qualifiers are fillies. A total of 82 horses competed in the 10 trials to the first leg of the $1 million Los Alamitos Cash Bonanza. The Bonanza is the track's version of the Triple Crown. The Ed Burke, Golden State Million and the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity make up the Bonanza.

The complete list of qualifiers is as follows; LD Fire (:17.330), Three Times The Toll (:17.440), Streakin Laquinta (:17.475), Tools Of Fire (:17.485), Fire Specialist (:17.49), Rocco Rojo (:17.560), Mollys Cartel (:17.590), Shining First Dash (:17.600), My Sexy Lady (:17.615) and Dashingfordestiny (:17.625). The only colts among this bunch are Streakin Laquinta, Rocco Rojo and Shining First Dash.

LD Fire covered the final 220 yards in :09.32—easily the fastest final time among the horses that qualified to the final. Alejandro Luna piloted the California-bred.

"To own a filly like LD Fire is very gratifying," said Abraham, who purchased her dam, the Grade 1 winning Prima LD about three years ago. "Prima LD has had some horses run before but LD Fire is the first baby out of this mare that I've owned. She's a real big filly and that's something that you will notice when you watch her run.

"She showed a great kick at the end of her first start, so I feel that when she learns to leave the gate she will be very good. She didn't break poorly in this trial, she had a pretty clean break, but she kind of just walked out of the gate but then got going. The good thing is that she was gone once she got going.

"She grew up at Jaime Gomez ranch," Abraham continued. "The fun thing is that I have her 2-year-old half brother by First Down Dash at Ruidoso Downs right now and he's as big as she is. I also have a couple of yearlings out of her by Corona Cartel and some Walk Thru Fire weanling out of her as well."

The first trial also featured the 9th fastest qualifier My Sexy Lady, a filly sired by the Mexican-based stallion Simply Silver Sage and out of Lady Of Lake. Bred by Joaquin Vega and owned by Rancho El Alacran, which is part owned by Vega, My Sexy Lady is a half sister to multiple Grade 1 finalist My Lady First. Rodrigo Aceves piloted My Sexy Lady to a time of :17.615 for trainer Adan Farias.

The second fastest qualifier came out of the eighth trial as Gianni Franco Samaja's Three Times The Toll covered the 350 yards in :17.440. Sired by Tres Seis, Three Times The Toll's mother is First Down Toll, who broke her maiden at the age of two with an outstanding 300-yard time of :15.140. Three Times The Toll displayed similar talent and speed in her trial win.

"Gianni was the co-owner of the fastest qualifier to the Ed Burke Million last year in Fantastic Corona Jr and he's got the second fastest qualifier this year in Three Times The Toll," said Samaja's agent, Vince Genco. "Gianni bred both of these horses (Vessels Stallion Farm is a co-breeder of Three Times The Toll) so you know he's doing something right. You know, another one of Gianni's mare is Special Queen SA, who ran many times against Prima LD. She beat us but we also beat her."

Special Queen SA's mother, Queen Of Appeals, and First Down Toll have very similar breedings. They're both First Down Dash daughters out of Tolltac broodmares.

"It's fun to see this next generation of runners of LD Fire and Three Times The Toll now prepare to compete against each other," Genco added.

"An effort like the one that Three Times The Toll just posted will definitely keep your spirits up. I remember a couple of years ago (Benny Rosset) had the 11th fastest qualifier with the filly Stylish Jess Br, so it is nice to see Gianni's filly make it to the Ed Burke final. When you see a filly run that fast of a time in a later trial that really makes you feel good."

A graduate of the Los Alamitos Equine Sale, where she was repurchased for $60,000, Three Times The Toll's victory came at the expense of Kindergarten Futurity winner Twin Spires, who was losing for the first in four career starts. Twin Spires had the tough luck of finishing the night with the 11th fastest qualifying time.

Paul Jones saddled Three Times The Toll, who is now two-for-two in her career. Ramon Sanchez piloted the bay filly.

Pazazz Quarterhorses' Streakin Laquinta is the third fastest qualifier following his terrific daylight victory in a time of :17.475. The son of Streakin La Jolla out of the Pazazz-owned mare A Sisstar came into this race after a tremendous 1-length win in his third career start on May 10.

"He had a clean break and was really quick out of the gate," said Pazazz's John Bobenrieth. "I'm still amazed by the fast time posted by LD Fire, who looked she was running with a sail out there. We're happy with our horse. We went outside California to find a stallion for A Sisstar and it has worked out. I've always liked the babies sired by Streakin La Jolla. They've always seemed to run long. A Sisstar's breeding has Californa's finest in Chicks Beduino and First Down Dash and we felt that Streakin La Jolla was a good match. Our philosophy was to bring something a little different in terms of bloodlines."

Connie Hall saddled Streakin Laquinta, who was ridden to victory by Eddie Garcia. The jockey/trainer pairing will surely conjure memories of another million-dollar race winner in A Classic Dash, which Hall saddled and Garcia piloted to victory in the 1993 All American Futurity. Hall also trained A Sisstar, who is a stakes winning full sister to 2000 World Champion A Ransom.

Kirk Goodfellow's Dashingfordestiny qualified with the 10th fastest time after running second to Streakin Laquinta. A three-quarter sister to AQHA Champion and All American Futurity winner Heartswideopen, Dashingfordestiny gave her owner his first ever runner in the Ed Burke final.

"I had the eleventh-fastest time with America Strikes Back in 2004," Goodfellow said earlier in the week. "I was also either twelfth or thirteenth fastest one other time too. I've always had pretty tough luck with this race."

"We repurchased her (Dashingfordestiny) for $250,000 at the Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale because we liked her so much," he added. "She's never going to be quite as tall as Heartswideopen, but she'll end up being as broad as she is. She looks a lot more like her mother (Dashing Phoebe) than her sister."

Now that Goodfellow is in the Ed Burke for the first time, he is surely well aware that anything can happen on the night of the $1 million finale. Cesar De Alba piloted Dashingfordestiny for trainer Chris O'Dell.

Walk Thru Fire sired both the fourth and fifth fastest qualifiers in Fire Specialist and Tools Of Fire. Owned, bred and trained by Jaime Gomez, Fire Specialist is a perfect two for two so far this season. Interestingly, she has flown under the radar in both of her starts, as her winning odds have been around 7-to-1 each time. Alejandro Luna rode her for the trainer, who has won four of the last five Grade 1 races contested at Los Alamitos. In fastest qualifier LD Fire and the impressive 2-length trial winner Fire Specialist, Gomez will have a solid pair in the Grade 1 Ed Burke on June 20.

Eight-time AQHA Champion Jockey G.R. Carter piloted Tools Of Fire to a powerful 3/4 length victory over eighth fastest qualifier Shining First Dash. Out of the Jody O Toole mare No Tools Required, the New Mexico-bred Tools Of Fire will enter the Ed Burke as the most experienced runner having already made four career starts.

"Her experience can only help her," said trainer Mike Joiner. "She's finally getting it all together. She's always had a big kick at the end of races and her troubles have come in the first part. She was right there with the leader in this start and then she showed her usual kick at the end. She's won twice at Los Alamitos now, so she's in good form."

Before this race, Tools Of Fire posted back-to-back third place finishes at Sunland Park, including one in which she ran behind eventual West Texas Futurity winner Varsity Girl.

"She only beat us by a half length, so we knew that she could compete against top horses," Joiner said.

Tools Of Fire is owned by Pat Guthrie and Billy Smith, who along with partner Vessels Stallion Farm, won the 2006 Ed Burke with champion FDD Dynasty.

Muller Racing LLC has also enjoyed victory in the Ed Burke before with 2004 winner Ocean Runaway. Muller Racing will be represented this year with homebred Shining First Dash. The First Down Dash colt won his maiden race at 51-to-1 odds for trainer Denny Ekins and young rider Santiago Mendez. He proved that the effort was no fluke as he came back with a successful second place finish in this trial.

Enrique Gonzalez will look for another win in the Ed Burke this year, this time with Hawkish's undefeated colt Rocco Rojo. He won with Hawkish in 2003.

"Rocco Rojo is all heart," Gonzalez said. "It brings me great pleasure to see Hawkish starting develop into a pretty good stallion."

Rocco Rojo is also a full brother to the filly Hawkins Cash, a winner of $88,810 who qualified to last year's Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity.

"I've enjoyed a lot of success in this sport with horses that I've purchased from Dr. Ed Allred and to great advice from the late Hank Ward," Gonzalez said. "I bought Hawkinson and Hawkish from Dr. Allred and not only did they bring me great pleasure on the racetrack but they've become outstanding stallions. I also had a very promising filly that I bought from Dr. Allred named Princess Pritzi. She ran second in a trial to the Los Alamitos Million Futurity but unfortunately she passed away a few years ago.

"When I bought Hank Ward's ranch in Rosamond, California along with many of his horses there in 1998, Hank told me a couple of things. He said, 'whatever you do please, please don't sell my mares.' He told me that they carried the great blood of Merridoc and Rocket Wrangler and horses like that. I looked at some of his mares and they were daughters of a horse named Superior Chick that I didn't know much about (he was a son of Easy Jet). One of those mares was Wards Desert Starlet, who I bred to Hawkinson. The result was Startlet Hawk, who went on to win a couple of Grade 1 races over a World Champion Wave Carver.

"Red Hot Katie, who has produced two of Hawkish's good babies in Rocco Rojo and Hawkins Cash, is a daughter of Hank Ward's Red Hot Rhythm. A lot of the good things that have happened to me have been because of the great bloodlines of horses owned by Dr. Allred and the good advice of the late Hank Ward. I still have some of his mares and of course, Red Hot Rhythm, and they're still producing horses at the ranch."

Piloted by Juan Andrade for trainer Mario Loza, Rocco Rojo came into this trial having beaten Lookingforchemistry by 3/4 lengths in a maiden race on April 24. Lookingforchemistry has since won twice, including a victory on Ed Burke Million trial night. She qualified to the Ed Burke Juvenile Stakes.

The last horse to qualify to the Ed Burke Million was Mollys Cartel, a filly by Corona Cartel out of Grade 1 winner Five Bar Molly. The winner of the ninth trial of the night, she covered the distance in :17.595 for trainer Jose Flores, red hot jockey Francisco Rubio and Balgo Racing Team. Mollys Cartel is the first Ed Burke qualifier ever for Balgo Racing, a Santa Ana-based partnership made up of a group of young racing enthusiasts headed by Jose Gonzalez Valencia.

"We purchased four weanlings in a private deal from Francisco Flores (owner of the stallion A Regal Choice)," Gonzalez Valencia explained. "One of those weanlings was Mollys Cartel. My brothers are also involved in Balgo Racing. We've only been racing for about a year and we're excited."

The accomplishments of Mollys Cartel's mother, Five Bar Molly, have been well documented. Five Bar Molly stop racing in the United States after her 4-year-old year in 2002. She spent the next couple of years as one of the top stars in the Mexican match racing circuit before to the United States in 2007. Amazingly, she would come back at the age of nine to win a pair of stakes races in 2007 - the Grade 3 Miss Princess Handicap and the Grade 1 Vessels Maturity against the opposite sex. She would finish the year racing in the Champion of Champions only a couple of weeks from turning 10-years-old.

Mollys Cartel's half sister is Fly Bar Special, who competed in the Restricted Grade 1 Governor's Cup Futurity as well as several Grade 1 races in her career.

The qualifiers to the Ed Burke Juvenile, which will also be contested on June 20 are: Twin Spires (:17.635), Bring The Bling (:17.655), Whole Lot Of Karma (:17.655), Lookingforchemistry (:17.660), Env (:17.660), Apollitical Jess (:17.660), Terra Special (:17.690), Azshecanfly (:17.695), Faster Car (:17.705) and Show Me An Effort (:17.710).

My Sexy Lady is a pleasant surprise

Only two starts ago, Rancho El Alacran's My Sexy Lady was competing against $16,000 maiden claiming company here at Los Alamitos. A second-place finisher in that event, she remained a maiden heading into the trials to the Ed Burke Million Futurity. Despite the lack of a win on her record, My Sexy Lady turned in the finest race of her career on Saturday, running a bang-up second behind the dominant winner LD Fire and qualifying ninth-fastest to a Grade I futurity worth over $1,000,000. Not bad for a horse who hadn't even committed to starting in the trials until a week or two before race day.

"I thought it was a really amazing achievement for her to improve that much and turn in such a great race," commented her trainer Adan Farias. "It was even more impressive considering the fact that we were still debating whether to start her or not a week or two out from the trials. We were still on the fence at that point. She hadn't shown us a whole lot early on and that's why we dropped her down to the claiming ranks. Then after she ran a good second we decided to go ahead and give her a shot in the trials. What did we have to lose?"

As it turned out, that decision proved to be a very wise one, as the two-year-old filly by Simply Silver Sage turned in a stellar race and gave her owners their first ever finalist in the Ed Burke Million Futurity. "Our filly is improving every single time that she starts," said Gilberto Vega of Rancho El Alacran. "My dad Joaquin bred this horse and we've liked her all along. Early on in her career she had a lot of trouble at the beginning of her races. She always seemed to break in or out at the start and couldn't get going. I've always thought that she would just get better with more experience. It looks like that's finally happening now."

A native of Mexico, the 34-year-old Gilberto Vega wasn't able to attend the trials, but is planning on coming to Los Alamitos for the finals. "It's hard to make it out all of the time for every single one, but I try to come every month or two at least," commented Vega. "Luckily I have Dish Network here at my place and there are also lots of casinos that show the races here in Mexico. I'm very honored to represent both my family's name and the whole country of Mexico with our horse in the Ed Burke."

A well-known group of owners on the Mexico racing circuit, Rancho El Alacran has made performing well here in the United States a major priority. "We started our first one here in 2006 and we've always tried to breed to the best and bring good horses to the U.S. that will be able to compete," Gilberto explained. "We even have our own racetrack here in Mexico named La Paloma Raceway where we like to run a lot of our horses. As long as we've been in the business, we've always had hopes of taking a good horse here and winning the big races."

A victim of bad racing luck in her first few starts, My Sexy Lady has benefited hugely from each and every one of her four starts. "This filly had no shot at all in her very first out," explained Adan Farias. "She was really green and made a lot of mistakes, but more than anything she got into trouble early. Then we ran her in the Kindergarten trials and she hooked one of the toughest fields of the night. After that we decided to drop her down in class to a claiming race and I think it really helped her confidence. We didn't want to give up on this filly because she's a half-sister to one of our really good horses named My Lady First, so we wanted to give her lots of chances to prove herself."

Also campaigned by Rancho El Alacran and trainer Adan Farias, My Lady First is an eight-time winner of $373,798. One of the classiest distaffers here in Southern California, she was second earlier this meet in the Los Alamitos Winter Championship in February.

Although My Sexy Lady comes from the same female family as My Lady First, Farias insists that the two horses don't have a great deal in common physically. "They're opposites really," explained Adan. "My Sexy Lady is really calm and low-key whereas My Lady First is really hot-blooded and fiery. My Sexy Lady is also by a lesser-known stallion named Simply Silver Sage as opposed to My Lady First, who is by First Down Dash. I think the fact that they've both run well though says a whole lot about the class and influence that a broodmare brings to the table. I'm really lucky to have horses from families like this one."

A homebred from Mexico, Ranch El Alacran owns both My Sexy Lady's dam Lady Of Lake and her sire Simply Silver Sage. "He's a really good stallion," said Vega. "His only problem is that nobody knows who he is because he stands here in Mexico. Everybody in our area knows how good he is, but the issue with only racing in match races is that it doesn't translate well to the United States. They just don't see the races."

A hard-trying filly, My Sexy Lady's connections are delighted with how their filly has run so far and will be hoping for continued improvement in the finals. "She's still learning all of the time and improving constantly," added Farias. "It looks like everyone will be trying to catch LD Fire in the finals and she beat us pretty good on trial night. I just hope that we can finish a little better next time out and try to stay closer to her. We're hoping for the best."