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Claiming Futurity trials prove to be a popular event

May 29, 2010     E-mail this page to a friend!

Story by Orlando Gutierrez, Los Alamitos Race Course

Mimi Wells was not always a fan of the Los Alamitos Claiming Futurity.

"When I first heard about this race I didn't think it was a good idea," she admitted. "I was thinking 'Who in the heck would want to do that race?' But the more I thought about it the more I began to like it. I started thinking about some of my 2-year-olds that could be in this race and I started to see the race differently."

Wells is now a big fan of the inaugural Los Alamitos Claiming Futurity and not just because her homebred Gimme Corona posted the fastest qualifying time to the $75,200 final to be held on June 12. Friday's trials were the first ever for the Claiming Futurity and Mimi not only qualified Gimme Corona but also the 10th fastest qualifier Fly On The Wall. A total of 34 horses competed in the trials, each carrying a claiming price of $12,500. Horses could be claimed out of the trials, but those that qualified will not be eligible to be claimed in the futurity final.

The Claiming Futurity turned the claim box into the most popular spot of the night, as 12 of the 34 horses were claimed out of the trials. Half of the field to the Claiming Futurity will be racing for new connections following a claim. The first place share of the purse will be $31,584.

"I thought this night was a blast," said Wells, the recipient of the 2000 Frank Vessels Sr. Memorial Award for her contributions to the sport of Quarter Horse racing. "I've never seen so many people around the claim box. It was like the old days. I think it was great. There was a lot of excitement and a lot of fun. I also like the fact that the race is at 350 yards. The (300-yard) Kindergarten Futurity usually comes too early for my horse. Now if I have a horse that might not be of the caliber to run in the million dollar futurity trials, then this can be a great race for them."

Trained by Dan Francisco and ridden by Alex Bautista, both Gimme Corona and Fly On The Wall were surprising trial winners. Gimme Corona won at odds of 12-1 while posting the fastest qualifying time of :17.611, while Fly On The Wall scored at 9-1 odds with a time of :17.908. Perhaps the fact that both horses flew low on the wagering radar helped divert attention away from them in the claim box.

"That worked out perfectly," Wells said. "Now I get to run them back for a nice purse. If you get past the gamble of seeing your horse get claim, then it's great. Even if the horse gets claim, $12,500 is a pretty good price. If you buy a horse at the Los Alamitos Equine Sale for around $10,000 then this is a perfect race for that horse. I love this race now and I think they should keep it the same for next year."

Wells bred the Fishers Dash gelding Gimme Corona. She then sent the gray runner out of the Corona Cartel mare Miss Coronacorona to Matthew Fales in Arizona. Gimme Corona ran twice there, finishing fourth in a trial to the Arizona Quarter Horse Racing Association Spring Futurity before finishing 9th in the final.

"He didn't do all that great in the Spring Futurity, but the experience helped him a great deal," Wells said. "(Fales) did a great job breaking him and Dan Francisco did great finishing the job. I have the best trainer in Dan Francisco and he always does a great job."

Apache Station and Fishers Line qualified to the Claiming Futurity after running second and third, respectively, in this trial. They'll both return with new connections after being among the most popular runners in the claiming box on Friday night. Ten claims were dropped on Fishers Line, while seven were dropped on Apache Station. Jaime Gomez won the shake for Fishers Line, while Larry Chapple got to take home Apache Station. Gomez also claimed qualifier MB Guera Classica, while FF Racing Stables claimed Exactly Like You, who won the opening trial with the third fastest time of :17.699. Ben McKinney and Jim Hanson claimed the ninth-fastest qualifier Pearl Heart.

Coopers Hawk won the remaining trial for owner Janet McKinnerney and trainer Blane Schvaneveldt. Ridden by Jay Conklin, Coopers Hawk couldn't even hit the board in his first two starts, but thanks to the Los Alamitos Claiming Futurity he will now have a chance to win a good chunk of money in the $75,200 finale.

"And I get to run this one of the final," said Schvaneveldt. "They claimed two of my horses but this one I get to keep. I told (Conklin) 'just get him out of the gate and he'll win.' I think this horse will be tough in the final."

The complete list of qualifiers is as follows: Gimme Corona (:17.611), Apache Station (:17.674), Exactly Like You (:17.699), Fishers Line (:17.732), Coopers Hawk (:17.804), Mb Guera Classica (:17.882), Chilindrino (:17.878), With Corona (:17.891), Pearl Heart (:17.905), and Fly On The Wall (:17.908).

Other horses with new barns are Okie Dokey Time, with the busy Gomez winning a three-way shake; Bound To Snow, who claimed by Robert Parra; Hawkinsons, who went to ES Stables Inc; One Snowy Day, who is now owned by Jesus Avila and Jesus Cuevas; Degenerate, who will now race for owner/trainer Danny Montes; Faded Paint, who is now owned by John Wells; and Ocean Drive, who was claimed by Luis Martinez.