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Keller's/Schvaneveldt's Leave The Scene headlines Ed Burke Million Futurity on Saturday

June 16, 2010     E-mail this page to a friend!

Leave The Scene and jockey G.R. Carter, Jr., set the fastest qualifying time in the first of 12 trials on June 5
(photo by Scott Martinez, courtesy of Los Alamitos Race Course)
Ed Burke Juvenile also on tap

By Orlando Gutierrez, Los Alamitos Race Course

Sixty years ago in his native Idaho, trainer Blane Schvaneveldt walked into Ron Keller's shop to purchase some tires for his truck. He walked out of there with a friend for life.

"When I met Ronnie he was recapping tires," Schvaneveldt said. "I pulled in there and said 'I need some tires.' We've been friends ever since. We were friends for a long time before he ever became a horse owner, but that's how we first met."

The two friends have enjoyed some great times together on the track thanks to top runners like Militante, Militia, and Ronnie Jace, and currently the talented Walk Thru Fire gelding Leave The Scene, the fastest qualifier to Saturday's $1,064,000 Ed Burke Million Futurity at Los Alamitos Race Course. A victory by Leave The Scene would give Keller and his son, Ronnie Brooks Keller, the richest victory of their racing lives. For Schvaneveldt, who has won six runnings of the Ed Burke in his career, win number seven in the Ed Burke would represent his third victory win in a million dollar race after Tres Passes won the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity and Golden State Million Futurity in 2008. Blane is excited about Leave The Scene's chances to win the Ed Burke, especially after seeing the Ed Allred-bred sprinter win his trial with a sizzling 350-yard time of :17.21. His winning time was the best from among the more than 100 horses that competed on trial night.

"I galloped him on (Tuesday) and stood him in the gate and he did super," Schvaneveldt said. "He's ready for them horses in the Ed Burke. I've been waiting for this race (his trial victory) a long time because I knew he was a runner, but that son of a gun never had the chance to show it. He showed on trial night that he is a fast horse."

Leave The Scene, a winner of three of four starts, will face a group of runners headed by the Jaime Gomez-trained pair of Personal Glory, who is owned by Dutch Masters III, and All N The Jeans, who is campaigned by Bobby Cox. The two are among the six fillies that will compete in the Ed Burke final. Leave The Scene is one of two geldings in the race with the Mexican-bred sprinter Jose Pablo being the other gelding. There are also two colts in the race in the form of David and Ross Hinkins' First Down Illusion and Miguel Rodriguez's More Than You Know.

When it came to purchase Leave The Scene at the 2009 Los Alamitos Equine Sale, the decision was truly a family affair.

"I go through the sale catalog and look at the pedigree of the horses," said Ronnie Brooks. "My father ends up looking at the horses at the sale. That's how we work it. Leave the Scene was the second horse in the book that I circled. I usually don't circle too many horses because you still have to go to the sale and figure out which one you can afford. When my dad got to the sale he looked at the first horse in the book that I had circled. He didn't like the back end so he moved on to the next horse, which was Leave The Scene. After he saw him he called me and said 'I loved this horse.' I told him, 'That's good because I love him too.' We targeted Leave The Scene and even though he sold for more than we had hoped ($19,200) he has turned out to be quite a bargain.

"We've been very excited about this horse from day one," Ronnie Brooks added. "Blane has been in the business for a long time. He's quiet about the horses and he doesn't lead you stray, but he's been excited about this horse all year long. Watching his maiden, we felt good about our horse because he won even though he had a troubled start. In the Kindergarten Futurity trials, he had a terrible start and never seemed to get out there to run his best. We were surprised me how fast he ran and that he was even in contention to make it to the Kindergarten final."

Leave The Scene ended up tied for 10th place on the qualifying list and eventually lost the shake that decided the final Kindergarten berth. Despite missing out on a spot in the Grade 1 $364,000 Kindergarten, Ronnie Brooks was not really too disappointed.

"With the shake, I just figured that there's somebody else in the shake that wanted to be in the race just as badly as we wanted to be in the race. The shake made someone else very happy. Even before the shake I told my dad that I would feel just as good if he didn't make it because maybe it would give him more time to prepare for the million-dollar Ed Burke."

A 'blessing in disguise' is how Schvaneveldt describes losing the shake to the Kindergarten.

"It gave us time to get him perfect for the trials," the trainer explained.

"I'm so glad that we are in there," Ronnie Brooks added. "We have the same chance as nine others and that's all you can ask for in this sport. I'm just happy to be in there. I hope every horse that in the final runs a straight race and enjoy good luck, and let the best horse win the race."

Ronnie Brooks Keller added one final item. "I hope I can run into (Leave The Scene's breeder) Ed Allred to tell him how thankful we are. I can't say enough about Ed Allred. He's a such a horseman and for people like us that love to race horses we couldn't enjoy this sport if it wasn't for Ed Allred."

G.R. Carter will ride Leave The Scene from post number one.

The Ed Burke Million is the first leg of the $1 million Los Alamitos Cash Bonanza, which is essentially the track's version of the Triple Crown. If a horse sweeps the Ed Burke Million, Golden State Million, and Los Alamitos Two Million then Los Alamitos Race Course will pay his connections a $1 million cash bonus. Nine of the 10 runners are eligible to win the Cash Bonanza with Miguel Rodriguez's More Than You Know the only horse not eligible for the bonus. The colt by Azyoucansee is not nominated to run in the Golden State Million Futurity.

Personal Glory and All N The Jeans both posted outstanding victories in the trials and are part of a great group of fillies running on Saturday. Both fillies are exiting the Kindergarten final. All N The Jeans broke inward and bumped a rival before finishing in third place as a heavy favorite, while Personal Glory had a ton of trouble and finished eighth. Another filly to watch is Legacy Ranch's Flying Fig, who in her first start set all sorts of track records, including the fastest 300-yard debut ever by a 2-year-old filly.

First Down Illusion, who is part of the decorated family that includes champions Old Habits, Hardly Hateful, and Hateful Hanna, plus outstanding runners like Check Her Twice, Dash To Chivato Fishers Dash, and First Femme, will represent the great stallion First Down Dash. Adan Farias trains the Zory Kuzyk-bred runner for David and Ross Hinkins of Utah. Farias also trains the undefeated star Jose Pablo for Rancho El Alacran.

The field from the rail out is as follows; Leave The Scene, Jose Pablo, Star In The East, More Than You Know, Personal Glory, First Down Illusion, Flying Fig, All N The Jeans, Pushing Dazies, and Favorite Admirer.

Jaguar Xj, Lady Mimosa top Ed Burke Juvenile field

Santa Fe Roldan's outstanding pair of Jaguar XJ and Lady Mimosa will each enter Saturday's $30,000 Ed Burke Juvenile in search of their respective third win in a row. The two runners won impressively on the night of the Ed Burke Million trials and only the battle against the clock kept them from advancing to tonight's Ed Burke Million Futurity final.

Jaguar XJ and Lady Mimosa have now set their sights in this Juvenile race, which will feature three other horses that finished either second or third in the Ed Burke finale. Ed Allred's Cash Him Out, who was the unlucky 11th fastest qualifier on the night of the Ed Burke Million trials, also returns to compete in this Juvenile test. Jose Flores will saddle Cash Him Out, who in the trials finished third to Ed Burke Million finalists Leave The Scene and First Down Illusion. Jaguar XJ and Lady Mimosa, meanwhile, will be saddled by former champion jockey, now top trainer Joe Badilla. Young pilot Wilberth Morales will be aboard Jaguar XJ, while Eddie Garcia, who rode both of these horses in the trials, sticks with Lady Mimosa.

In another riding change from the trials, G.R. Carter will take over the duties on Allred's Frosty Younger. A strong maiden winner back on April 17, Frosty Younger was never able to shine while running fifth in the trials for trainer Blane Schvaneveldt. Wade Siegel and Don Boyle's BF Farm Boy, who showed tremendous late run when running second in the trials, is another of the top contenders in this race.

Trials report

Speed, speed, and more speed, that was the story on the night of the $1,064,000 Ed Burke Million Futurity trials, as the babies were sizzling with some blazing fast times during the 12-race card of trials to the first million dollar race of the year at Los Alamitos Race Course.

Ron and Ronnie B. Keller's Leave The Scene was the fastest among the 113 horses that competed in Saturday's trials, as the gelded son of Walk Thru Fire topped the list of qualifiers with a time of :17.218 posted in the first trial race. How fast were the times posted in the trials? As comparison, of the 10 horses that qualified to the Ed Burke in 2009 only fastest qualifier LD Fire would have made the field to this year's million-dollar race. Balgo Racing's Star In The East was this year's 10th fastest qualifier and her time of :17.429 was 1/100th of a second faster than the number two qualifier last year.

Different year, different horses, but even Ed Burke stalwarts like the three-time winning trainer Jaime Gomez were left impressed with this night of the trials.

"We just saw one of the toughest and most competitive nights of trials in a long, long time at Los Alamitos," he said. "If you would have told me at the beginning of the night that my horse in the first heat trial was going to go :17.45 like (Mike Abraham and Alfonso Pasquel's) LA Fire ran, I would have taken it without a doubt. He ran a :17.459 and still did not qualify. Bobby Cox's filly All N The Jeans went :17.36 in the second trial and I was pretty worried that she was in danger of not making the final. We are thrilled that she made it as the eighth fastest qualifier, but that just tells you what a greatly competitive night of trials we just had in the Ed Burke."

The complete list of qualifiers to the Ed Burke Million Futurity is as follows; Leave The Scene (:17.218), More Than You Know (:17.262), Jose Pablo (:17.272), Personal Glory (:17.277), Favorite Admirer (:17.340), Pushing Dazies (:17.350), First Down Illusion (:17.360), All N The Jeans (:17.369), Flying Fig (:17.427), and Star In The East (:17.429).

The two fastest qualifiers were sold at the 2009 Los Alamitos Equine Sale. Top qualifier Leave The Scene was purchased for a bargain price of $19,200, while second fastest qualifier More Than You Know was purchased by Miguel V. Rodriguez for $13,000. For the second straight year, fillies starred in the Ed Burke trials. Six of the 10 finalist this year are fillies (Personal Glory, Favorite Admirer, Pushing Dazies, All N The Jeans, Flying Fig, and Star In The East). Seven fillies qualified to last year's Ed Burke Million final.

Trainer Blane Schvaneveldt will now chase his seventh victory in the Ed Burke and first since champion First Sovereign's 1998 victory. Schvaneveldt will do so with a gelding that has impressed him since the beginning of the 2-year-old campaign. Leave The Scene had the fastest gate drill on the first morning that juvenile sprinters worked at Los Alamitos. He then won the first baby race of the year on April 2. And now he's victorious in the first of 12 trials to the Ed Burke Million on Saturday.

"I'll tell you what," said Schvaneveldt smiling. "I'd rather be sitting first than be tied for 10th like Leave The Scene was after the Kindergarten Futurity trials."

Bred by Ed Allred, the Walk Thru Fire gelding tied with Hawkish Town for the final qualifying spot to the Kindergarten and he eventually lost a spot in the final via a shake off.

"I've always been unlucky in shakes," said the legendary Hall of Fame trainer. "How many have I won? Not many - that I know. I don't ven go to the racing office because I know I'm bad luck in shakes. This last time (Racing Secretary Ron Church) came to the paddock and did it right here, so of course I lost again. I'm telling you I'm bad luck with the shakes. I think my horse could have won the Kindergarten if it wasn't for the shake. He didn't break too well in his Kindergarten trial but he still had a time that was good enough to give him a shot to qualify.

"Maybe it's a blessing in disguise that he didn't make that race," Schvaneveldt said. "Maybe the rest helped him in this race. Maybe we'll get on a roll like Tres Passes did a couple of years ago when he won two straight million dollar races. These babies ran super fast tonight. I've always like being in the first trial, but if you have a fast horse it doesn't matter what trial you are in."

One thing is certain now. Schvaneveldt has a fast horse. G.R. Carter piloted Leave The Scene to a 3/4 length victory over David and Ross Hinkins' First Down Illusion, who also qualified to the million dollar final out of this trial.

Miguel Rodriguez' More Than You Know was one of the surprise qualifiers of the night. Bred by Double Bar S Ranch, the Azyoucansee colt posted his second victory in as many starts after defeating Jacoba De La Torre's qualifier Favorite Admirer by 1/2 length. Santiago Mendez piloted the second fastest qualifier.

"I picked out a couple of horses at the Los Alamitos Equine Sale that I really liked," Rodriguez said. "One of them was Filthy Fast, who won his first race at Los Alamitos and ran in these trials. The other horse that I liked was this one. We ended up buying More Than You Know because he was the one that we could afford, plus I loved the class on the bottom side of the breeding. The class on his mare side is the reason why I picked him at the sale. This horse has been nice for us from the beginning. He's smart, relaxed, and does everything right. He could be a nice stallion prospect."

More Than You Know is out of the Strawfly Special mare A Tiny Bit More, who is also the mother of Ed Burke Million Futurity, PCQHRA Breeders Futurity, and Golden State Derby finalist Corona Couture. More Than You Know's second dam is Tinys Rose Bud, a finalist in the All American Futurity and the mother of the stallion Strawflyin Buds, and APHA Champion 3-Year-Old Colt One Last Hero. The family also features champion 3-year-old filly Tiny First Effort, Grade 1 Southern California Derby winner Tiny First Down, Grade 1 Charger Bar Handicap winner Terrific Energy, and Rainbow Futurity runner-up and All American Futurity finalist Tiny Dash Of Cash.

"My dad, Zenaido Rodriguez, is my partner on this horse. He is my partner on everything and he takes care of our ranch in Lucerne Valley. He never comes to the track. He'd rather stay home and watch the races on TV. We dreamed that More Than You Know would run in :17.40 tonight. I never expected him to do what he just did."

Rancho El Alacran's Jose Pablo won his trial to the Kindergarten Futurity but failed to advance to the final. On this night, he took care of business in a big hurry, as he flew out of the gate en route to a 1 3/4 length victory in a time of :17.272.

"This horse was born on the exact same day as my brother's son," said Gilberto Vega of Rancho El Alacran. "He named his son Jose Pablo and in his honor we gave this horse the same name. We make a big effort to run our horses in the United States and we are thrilled with this horse's performance.

"He was born here in our ranch (in Sinaloa, Mexico), and we raised him here," Vega added. "His sire is one of our stallions standing in Mexico, and we are proud of that. This horse is 100% Mexican, and that brings us a great deal of satisfaction. This is a big weekend for (stallion) Simply Silver Sage. On Sunday one of his babies will be running in the biggest futurity we have in Hermosillo, plus Jose Pablo's full brother will be running in the consolation race to that futurity. We got three embryos out of Jose Pablo's mother, Exotic Darlin. Jose Pablo is one of those babies and the horse running in the consolation in Hermosillo is another one. We also have Exotic Camila, who ran (third to All N The Jeans) in an Ed Burke trial. Unfortunately we lost Exotic Darlin to tetanus. She was a good mare that won a few big races for us here in Mexico. We are going to miss her."

Rancho El Alacran is best known for campaigning Grade 1 Bank of America Challenge Championship winner and Champion of Champions finalist Fighter On Fire, as well as Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trial winner, Champion of Champions finalist, and multiple Grade 1 finalist My Lady First. Fighter On Fire is currently standing stud at Burns Ranch in Menifee, California.

A pair of great looking fillies qualified out of the 12th and final trial. This duo included Dutch Masters III's Personal Glory, who finished with the fourth fastest time, and also track record holder Flying Fig. Trained by Jaime Gomez, Personal Glory has been tremendous in his two starts in trial races, as she won her trial to qualify to the Kindergarten last month.

"She does come out to play on trial nights," said Dr. James Streelman of Dutch Masters III. "She's two for two in trials and that's great. She gives you a shot to run for the big money and that's all that you can ask from a horse. She had a bad trip in the Kindergarten final and she was running from the inside post and that's tough. After watching the times in the first couple of trials I was a bit ho-hum about her chances, but I could see that she was flying right from the start of this race."

Bred by Dutch Masters III, Personal Glory is a sorrel filly sired by Walk Thru Fire out of the solid runner Suzy Cartel, who also ran for Dutch Masters III.

"Suzy Cartel won about $100,000 and was a small stakes winner and a stakes qualifier," Streelman explained. "She was beat up a little bit but she had so much heart that I told Jaime that I would never, ever get rid of her as a broodmare. Personal Glory is her third baby. The first two suffered injuries but now Suzy Cartel has given us this multiple Grade 1 qualifier. I'm proud of Suzy Cartel and excited about our filly."

Dutch Masters III won the first Ed Burke Million Futurity in 2005 with another homebred filly sired by the then relatively unknown Walk Thru Fire. Her name? The millionaire champion Higher Fire, who not only won the Ed Burke Million but also the Golden State Million Futurity, and was second in the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity. Higher Fire, who was trained by Jaime Gomez, also ran in the Kindergarten, where she lost to stablemate Gold Nugget Rd.

Legacy Ranch's Flying Fig enjoyed a tremendous career debut on May 22 when she posted the fastest 300-yard time ever for a first-time 2-year-old starter at Los Alamitos of :15.16. The effort made her a high profile runner coming into the Ed Burke Million trials. And while Flying Fig did not win her return race, she ran gamely to squeeze into the rich finale for trainer Denny Ekins. After the race, Pete and Evelyn Parrella of Legacy Ranch and Ekins waited with baited breath to see if Flying Fig's time was good enough to move on to the final.

"We knew we had a shot when we saw the winning time," Parrella said. "Then we heard (track announcer) Ed Burgart say that she had qualified. We wanted to wait until we saw it on the TV screen to be sure. It's a great feeling to see her qualify. We had Griswold and Apprehend and they ran in some big races, but this is our first 2-year-old ever to make it into a million-dollar race. We've had some Thoroughbreds run in races for $250,000 and $100,000, but never in a million-dollar race. This feels great and we're tickled to have moved on. This is good for the ranch, it's good for Denny, and it's great for people that work with us at the ranch. It really means a lot."

"We knew it was going to be close and figured that she had the opportunity to make it into the final," Ekins added. "Obviously, we are awfully thrilled with the outcome. This was only her second race and she had to run pretty much by herself on the outside, so I think she handled it well. Now we'll wait the draw. You always hope for a good draw, but in the end you learn to accept whatever post you get and deal with it from there."

"We're calling friends and friends are calling us, that's what makes it so much fun," Evelyn Parrella added. "It's great that the qualifying spots are spread among owners and trainers. It's going to be a lot of fun."

Evelyn is right. There are eight trainers represented in the Ed Burke Million final, and 10 different ownership groups, meaning that this big and sweet pot of futurity money will be spread around nicely among this group.

One set of connections, trainer Jose Flores and Balgo Racing Team, will be looking for a second straight Grade 1 futurity win. The owner/trainer combination won the Kindergarten with West Coast Hawk and now has a chance at another rich victory with 10th fastest qualifier Star In The East.

"We just want to keep our luck going," said Jose Gonzalez of Balgo Racing. "We had a great time after West Coast Hawk's victory. We had so many calls from our friends that heard about the result that it was more than we ever imagined. The response was great. We are super happy that (she's made it). She's 100% right now, but unfortunately West Coast Hawk got a little sore after his win, otherwise he would have run in the trials."