The Racing Journal Logo

More Than You Know returns to action with top time in Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity trials

November 21, 2010     E-mail this page to a friend!

More Than You Know sets the fastest time from 12 trials at Los Alamitos on November 20—400 yards in :19.299.
(photo by Scott Martinez, courtesy of Los Alamitos Race Course)
For the second time this year, Miguel Rodriguez' More Than You Know surprised many observers by posting a tremendous time in the trials to a million dollar race at Los Alamitos. Back in early June, the Double Bar S Ranch-bred colt posted the second fastest qualifying time to the Ed Burke Million Futurity. The son of the young stallion Azyoucansee outdid himself on Saturday night, November 20, as he posted the fastest qualifying time to the $2,033,700 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity with a near track record time for a 2-year-old at 400 yards of :19.299.

Ridden by Joel Cruz for Rodriguez, who owns and trains the colt, More Than You Know edged second fastest qualifier Adashin First Dash by only a nose while finishing only 13/1000ths of a second off Flying Fig’s record for a freshman sprinter at this distance. More Than You Know’s winning time in the 10th of 12 trials to the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity is the fastest ever by a colt or gelding at 400 yards at the Orange County track.

“The most important thing about this horse is that he has an incredible heart and will to compete,” Rodriguez said. “He has shown his heart every time he’s dueled with another horse in a race. We depend on his heart for him to do good things. He’s always shown that level of competitive character.”

More Than You Know led the way in a busy night of trials that saw 108 horses compete for one of the 10 spots to California’s richest horse race of the year. Joining More Than You Know and Adashin First Dash, who covered the distance in :19.304, in the December 10 futurity final will be Governor’s Cup Futurity winner Hot Hitter (:19.385), BF Farm Boy (:19.429), Number One Cartel (:19.446), Golden State Million Futurity winner One Sweet Jess (:19.453 ), two-time Grade 1 futurity runner-up Flying Fig (:19.462), Oatman (:19.523) and Thru The Fire (:19.535). All N The Jeans and One Quick First Down each posted a time of :19.577 will be involved in a shake on Sunday evening to determine the 10th and final qualifier to the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity. Mr Piloto, winner of this year’s All American Futurity, was scratched from the trials because of colic.

“Fortunately he’s doing okay right now, but not good enough to even think about running,” said Felipe Quintero Sr., the father and assistant of trainer Felipe Quintero.

Purchased for $13,000 at the 2009 Los Alamitos Equine Sale, More Than You Know ran fourth to First Down Illusion in the Ed Burke Million final. He came out of the race feeling less than his best and his connections decided that resting him was the way to go.

“He was a little sore after the Ed Burke Million and I felt that we needed to give him a vacation,” Rodriguez said. “We had to forget about a couple of nice races in order to rest him to come back for these trials and the big money in the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity. We sent him to a ranch in Modesto, California. We needed to take care of a slight suspensory problem. We corrected the problem and then we turned him out to the pasture. I’ve dealt with those type of health issues on horses before and I was confident that we could take good care of the horse. The injury was not too bad at all and we knew that he was sitting on a good race. We knew that we had a good horse and we had to do our best to rest him for this race. Again his biggest asset is his great heart. I wouldn’t trade that quality for anything in the world. In the Ed Burked trials he paired up with another horse and he outran that foe. In this trial, we battled with (Adashin First Dash) and we were fortunate to come out on top.”

Rodriguez is confident that the time is right for his barn to take a major step forward in the sport of Quarter Horse racing.

“I want to win one of these big Grade 1 races,” he said. “I’ve been there before with Bloke running in a couple of Grade 1 races for older horses and with this horse when he was the second fastest qualifier to the Ed Burke Million. I think my barn is going to eventually come through with a nice win. I have a small barn and sometimes we get overlooked, but my think believes that it can be done. Plus if a horse can run, they can run and I have faith on (More Than You Know).”

Earlier this year, Rodriguez said that it was the qualities of the family of More Than You Know’s mother than convinced him to purchase the horse at the Los Alamitos Equine Sale. 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.

Golden State Million Futurity winner One Sweet Jess posted his fourth straight victory when he recovered from a bump at the start to win the ninth trial to the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity. His continued red-hot form was not surprising, as the colt has been clicking on all cylinders nearly the entire campaign. However, what was surprising was the fact that One Sweet Jess was not even the fastest qualifier to the Los Alamitos Two Million from the barn of trainer Ugo De La Torre.

One Sweet Jess finished the night as the sixth fastest qualifier, but De La Torre also saddled second fastest qualifier Adashin First Dash. Sired by the legendary First Down Dash, Adashin First Dash was making only her fourth career start. While De La Torre is the trainer of the brown filly, his brother Gustavo De La Torre is listed as the owner of the horse, who was bred by their brother Jose De La Torre. The brothers also share on the pleasures of campaigning One Sweet Jess, a colt that was Gustavo purchased from the Allred Brothers.

“This has been a dream come true,” said Ugo De La Torre following One Sweet Jess’ trial win that secured him a spot in the Los Alamitos Two Million finale.

“One Sweet Jess ran his race tonight,” he added. “We’ve been prepping him for this race and he responded nicely. I thought his final time was phenomenal because (jockey Santiago Mendez) didn’t seem to have to push him. Santiago knew what he had a ton of horse. After his races One Sweet Jess always looks tired, but after he catches his breath in the winner’s circle he always feels and looks better.”

“We had a little bit of a problem when he took off at the start of the race,” Mendez said. “We got bumped a little bit. Once he starts running, he really accelerates and starts gaining ground on his rivals. He has been a great horse to ride. He’s an easy going horse that loves to work with you. He can be a little studdy in the mornings, but he enjoys doing his work. I was lucky enough to ride a nice horse by the name of Shining First Dash and that horse reminds me of One Sweet Jess. They both did their best running late in races and they had a lot of power, but One Sweet Jess is probably the most powerful horse that I’ve ridden.”

Arnold Gonzalez’s Hot Hitter earned his third berth to a major futurity at Los Alamitos after a 1¼ length victory over All N The Jeans in the second trial. An easy winner of the Governor’s Cup Futurity on July 31, Hot Hitter finished third to One Sweet Jess and Flying Fig in the Golden State Million on October 29. One of three Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity qualifiers sired by Walk Thru Fire, Hot Hitter is a half brother to multiples stakes winner Hard Hitting, who is currently standing at TNL Farms in Bosque, New Mexico. Walk Thru Fire, who is also the sire of Oatman and Thru The Fire, stands at Burns Ranch in Menifee, California. Felipe Quintero saddled Hot Hitter, who has hit the board in each of his eight career starts.

Legacy Ranch’s brilliant filly Flying Fig finished the night as the seventh fastest qualifier and as the only 2-year-old to qualify to the Ed Burke Million, Golden State Million and Los Alamitos Two Million futurities this year. One of two qualifiers sired by Corona Cartel, Flying Fig’s career thus far has been very similar to that of World Champion Blues Girl Too during her 2-year-old season. Both fillies posted track record clocking early in their career and both ran second in the Ed Burke Million and Golden State Million. They both qualified to the Los Alamitos Two Million with trial wins and the question now becomes will Flying Fig end the year in the same fashion as Blues Girl Too finished her freshman campaign?

“Blues Girl Too won the Los Alamitos Two Million, so it would be wonderful if Flying Fig could do that as well,” said trainer Denny Ekins. “ ‘Figgie’ gave us a great effort tonight. I hope she can keep improving so that we have something more for the final. She’s going to need to be better because we’re looking forward to a heck of a final. I hope she doesn’t run second again. I hope she wins. She’s doing better around the barn. She is more comfortable, more relaxed and seems to be more confident. She’s made it to these big races and that’s all you can ask for. You have a chance to win them when you’re in them and that’s all that you can hope for from a horse.”

One of the feel good stories out of the trials is the qualification of Rip Skeen and Fawna Knight’s Oatman. Sent off at odds of 42-to-1 in the trials, the $54,000 purchase at the 2009 Los Alamitos Equine Sale delivered the race of his life to qualify to the Golden State’s richest horse race. Fifth in both of his previous two outings, the Ed Allred-bred son of Walk Thru Fire finished as the eighth fastest qualifier after Joel Cruz piloted him to a second place finish to One Sweet Jess.

“He’s been my baby the entire year,” said Holly Skeen, the assistant trainer to her husband Mark Skeen, who saddled Oatman. “He had not been breaking at all, but he had his best start ever tonight. He’s late maturing and he’s starting to figure things out. It’s all finally coming together. We’ve been working a lot with this horse and it’s great to see him figure things out. After the Equine Sale last year, Mark took him to St. George, Utah and got him ready there before I got him here at Los Alamitos in February. The horse is owned by Mark’s dad, Rip Skeen of Ogden, Utah, and his sister, Fawna, who lives here in Yorba Linda, California, and also in Scottsdale, Arizona. It really helped that this horse was right next to One Sweet Jess in the trials. It gave him something to chase.”

As previously mentioned, Walk Thru Fire (Hot Hitter, Thru The Fire and Oatman) and Corona Cartel (Flying Fig, Number One Cartel) will combined to represent at least five horses in the final. That number could grow to six if the Corona Cartel filly All N The Jeans wins the shake for the 10th and final spot. The other stallions with a Los Alamitos Two Million qualifier are Azyoucansee (More Than You Know), Mr Jess Perry (One Sweet Jess), Hawkinson (BF Farm Boy), and First Down Dash (Adashin First Dash). Quick Action is the sire of One Quick First Down.

Owned by Wade Siegel and Don Boyle, the late flying BF Farm Boy is a full brother to champion and 2006 Rainbow Derby winner Strawkins, while Ron and Melany Shalz’s Thru The Fire also qualified to the Golden State Million earlier this year. Fernando Garcia’s Garcia Bloodstock & Racing campaigns Number One Cartel. Garcia purchased Mr Piloto at the Heritage Place Yearling Sale last year before selling the eventual All American winner to Tremor Enterprises.

The list of nine qualifiers to the Los Alamitos Juvenile Invitational, which serves as the consolation to this race, features Feature My Corona (:19.604), LA Fire (:19.618), Girlie Man (:19.622), Jess Set Free (:19.636), Man Of Mine (:19.638), Queens R Blue (:19.645), Jaguar XJ (:19.646), Jess Before Dawn (:19.647), and Enjoy The Walk (:19.679). This group will be joined by the either All N The Jeans and One Quick First Down.