The Racing Journal Logo

Flying Fig tops Golden State Futurity trials with record win

October 17, 2010     E-mail this page to a friend!

Flying Fig sets the fastest trial time in the Golden State Futurity trials on October 15
(photo by Scott Martinez, courtesy of Los Alamitos Race Course)
Pete and Evelyn Parrella of Legacy Ranch have paid their dues in racing. Soon they will be well rewarded for their continued support of the sport, as in a span of eight days from Friday, October 29, through Friday, November 5; the couple will have the joy of taking part in a pair of million dollar races.

During that time, the Parrella’s will first enjoy watching their brilliant Quarter Horse filly Flying Fig take part in the $1,230,450 Golden State Million Futurity on October 29 after a terrific trial win on Friday night, October 15, at Los Alamitos Race Course. About a week later, they’ll be represented by Sweet August Moon in the $1 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.

Flying Fig was the big star of the night in the Golden State Million trials at the Orange County oval, as the Corona Cartel filly posted the fastest 400-yard time ever by a 2-year-old at Los Alamitos. The Legacy Ranch-bred filly emerged as the clear standout after an evening that consisted of 12 trials featuring a total of 106 2-year-olds. Flying Fig’s winning time of :19.286 broke the previous divisional 400-yard track record of :19.30 set by Janet McKinnerney’s Tres Passes in the 2008 Golden State Million Futurity final.

Trained by Denny Ekins and ridden by Alex Bautista, Flying Fig’s winning effort in the third trial now gives her four divisional records at the Orange County oval. Three of her marks were posted when the Legacy Ranch-bred filly debuted with a 300-yard time of :15.165 on May 22. That winning time gave her track records as fastest 300-yard time by 2-year-old first time starter and fastest 300-yard time by a 2-year-old filly. It was also, of course, the fastest at the distance by a 2-year-old filly in her first out. In the Golden State Million trial, Flying Fig’s fastest qualifying time was nearly 2/10ths of a second faster than the next fastest qualifier. The runner-up in the Ed Burke Million Futurity also improved her career record to two wins from four career starts after winning her trial by 2¼ lengths over eighth fastest qualifier Feature My Corona.

The complete list of qualifiers to the Golden State Million Futurity:

Flying Fig,:19.286
One Sweet Jess, :19.462
Thru The Fire, :19.542
LA Fire, :19.544
Blues Ferrari, :19.577
PK Fire, :19.588
Docs Apollo, :19.636
Feature My Corona, :19.642
Duke Kahanamoku, :19.646
Hot Hitter, :19.650

The outstanding stallion Walk Thru Fire sired of four of the 10 qualifiers to the Golden State Million in third-fastest qualifier Thru The Fire, Mike Abraham and Alfonzo Pasquel’s duo of LA Fire and PK Fire, and Governor’s Cup Futurity winner Hot Hitter.

The Parrellas will now have two weeks to celebrate Flying Fig’s terrific effort before their sweet double of million-dollar races occupy their minds.

“I’ve been in Thoroughbred racing for 40 years and in Quarter Horse racing for 30 years and until Flying Fig qualified to the Ed Burke Million in June I had never been part of a million dollar race,” said Pete Parrella. “We’re now going to have two horses running in million dollar races. It’s taken us a long time to get to this point, so you can understand how excited we are right now. Maybe it’s our turn. Maybe the racing gods have said ‘hey, let’s give these kids a bone.’ We’ve been paying into these Quarter Horse futurities for a long time, just like a lot of owners do and we know how tough it is to make it into one of these million dollar races. If we can pull this off and get lucky on October 29, that would be incredible. We’re not taking anything for granted because there are a lot of great horses in this futurity, but we’re having a lot of fun right now. We’re excited for Flying Fig and for everyone that works so hard for us at our ranch. It’s a good feeling. We’ve been in the Quarter Horse game for 30 years and it’s great to be in these million dollar races for the first time this year.”

Residents of Corona Del Mar, the Parrellas’ Legacy Ranch is a famous name of racing. Pete Parrella is highly involved in the Thoroughbred racing industry, as the treasure of the Thoroughbred Owners of California and as vice-president of the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association. His talented filly Sweet August Moon will be running in the Breeders’ Cup under the care of former Quarter Horse trainer, Brian Koriner.

First in the minds of the Parrellas is Flying Fig’s upcoming Golden State Million, a race in which she figures to be the favorite.

“(Jockey Alex Bautista) only touched her twice with his whip,” Parrella added. “He told me after the race that she’s the fastest horse he’s ever been on and that he can’t wait to get back on her. When someone like Alex says that, you have to pay attention. He’s ridden a lot of great horses in his career and guys like him know what they have under them. After she ran in the Ed Burke we decided to give her some time off. Our other option would have been to take her to Ruidoso Downs, but we figured that with the Golden State Million and then the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity here in California, that our best option was to wait for those races. We brought her back in the middle of August. I think that was the right move. She had a great workout in which she was clocked in :17.90. I thought she looked great in that workout. Alex had her wrapped up. The credit goes to our ranch manager Shaun Hadley and his team and trainer Denny Ekins and his guys here at Los Alamitos. My wife and I are just along for the ride. We think 400 yards is right up her alley. We figured she would run a good race, but never expected a track record time. When you think of the thousands of great 2-year-olds that have raced at Los Alamitos, to see her post the fastest time is in impressive. The most important thing is that she comes back in good form. We hope that for all the horses in these trials. We just want to see a good, clean, safe race in the final.”

Bred by Allred Brothers, One Sweet Jess scored a 1¼ length win in the 11th trial of the night. The Mr Jess Perry colt was unlucky to miss qualifying to the Ed Burke Million Futurity earlier this season, but he did come back to win the consolation stakes to the Ed Burke. Since then, he has finished second and first in a couple of allowance races and from the start of the Golden State Million trial it was clear to see that he was going to be a huge factor in the trials. Ridden by Santiago Mendez, One Sweet Jess covered the final 220-yards in :09.34 – a solid finish in comparison to Flying Fig’s superb final fraction of :09.29. Ugo De La Torre saddled One Sweet Jess.

Melany and Ron Shalz’s Thru The Fire finished with the third fastest qualifying time after recording his fourth straight victory in trial number 10. The Oklahoma-bred son of Walk Thru Fire won his trial by ¾ lengths in his first outing ever at Los Alamitos.

“He’s a good horse and one of my favorites this year,” said trainer Eddie Willis. “It looked like he slacked off a little bit in the middle of his race, but then he took off again. Right now he doesn’t even look like he ran 400 yards. He looks like it was just a stroll in the park. Other horses come back huffing and puffing, but he looks like it was nothing. He ran as a colt during the first two races of his career, but we decided to cut him after that. He’s been an entirely different horse since then. He has not made as much money as some of my other horses have made this year, but I’ve always liked him. I thought he had qualified to the All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs because he won his trial so easy, but his time was not fast enough to get in the final. I was still happy with his race.

The Shalz are two of Willis’ newest clients. In fact, Thru The Fire is the first horse he’s ever trained for them.

“I had seen this horse at the sales twice,” Willis said. “The second time that he went through an auction I bought him from the Shalzs, but Ron came to me and said I’ll let you train him if you let me buy him back. I went ahead and sold the horse back to him. I love these Walk Thru Fire babies. I think they’re the best up and coming horses I’ve seen in the past few years.”

Trainer Jaime Gomez enjoyed a tremendous Golden State Million trial night. A three-time winner of this futurity, Gomez will have three horses in the October 29 final. In addition to LA Fire and PK Fire, he’ll also saddle Dutch Masters III’s Docs Apollo. Gomez and Dutch Masters III combined to win the 2005 Golden State Million with champion Higher Fire. Gomez’s most recent million dollar victory came when LD Fire dead heated for the win in the Ed Burke Million Futurity last year for Abraham and Pasquel. The two co-owned the strong pair of LA Fire and PK Fire.

“Alfonso and I have had a good partnership,” said Abraham. “From the first three horses that we’ve owned together, all three have now qualified to a million dollar race. We thought we had a good shot with LA Fire and PK Fire tonight. I never thought that both of them would make it, but we felt that either one could get in. They’re not heavily raced so that’s a good thing for us. PK Fire had raced here before and LA Fire even though he didn’t break crisply, he really took off and had a great finish.

“It’s going to be a tough final,” Abraham added. “Flying Fig ran a beautiful race. She ran hard. She lit it up. I was impressed with Blues Ferrari. That mare (Run The Dash) just keeps throwing out good runners.”

Abraham admits that in the past he mostly ran as part of the New Mexico-bred program. His involvement in the ownership and syndication of Walk Thru Fire with Ed Allred has helped expand his horizons.

“Walk Thru Fire has really pushed me into the national level and to the open horse competitions,” he said. “I’ve always raced everywhere but with Walk Thru Fire I’m breeding more and more for these California races. The mother of LA Fire is Uncommonly Special and she is a stakes winner and Grade 1 performer. She’s one of the best looking individuals that I own and she ran out $125,000. I breed a lot of horses. This past season we had First Moonflash as stud and we bred him 120 to 150 mares. I’m really excited to see his babies. “

Other top qualifiers include Tremor Enterprises’ Blues Ferrari, who is a full brother to 2007 World Champion Blues Girl Too, and the Wave Carver colt Duke Kahanamoku. The latter is now a perfect two for two at Los Alamitos for Muniz Quarter Horses LLC and Juan Aleman.