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Trials for Winter Derby, Winter Championship this weekend

January 28, 2011     E-mail this page to a friend!

By Orlando Gutierrez, Los Alamitos Race Course

Winter Derby trials

Three major futurity winners from 2010 are among the 34 sophomores that will compete in the trials to the $215,600 Los Alamitos Winter Derby tonight (Friday, January 28) at Los Alamitos. The purse for this year’s Winter Derby is the richest since 2005 and the third richest in the 11-year history of the race. The horses with the 10 fastest times in the 400-yard trials will race in the final on Friday, February 18.

Top names in the trials include Grade 1 Kindergarten Futurity winner West Coast Hawk, Grade 1 PCQHRA Breeders Futurity winner The Goodbye Kisser and Grade 1 Ed Burke Million Futurity winner First Down Illusion.

The first of four trials to the Winter Derby will feature Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity finalist Oatman and Golden State Juvenile Stakes winner Girlie Man. The two will have to fend off the ultra quick Walkin Bac, who ran second by a nose to More Than You Know in the Holiday Handicap on New Year’s Day. Owned by Alessio, Brown and Davies, Girlie Man won three races last year and was fifth in the Governor’s Cup Futurity. He is one of four horses with over $45,000 in earnings racing in the opening trial. Ronald Skeen and Fawna Knight’s Oatman is the richest with nearly $100,000, most of that coming from his sixth place finish in the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity last season.

Runaway Corky, a gelded son of Ocean Runaway, is the leading contender to win the second trial heat over Los Al Two Million trial runner-up Aristocrat and PCQHRA Breeders Futurity finalist Current Sea. Runaway Corky’s only previous trial appearance was an eighth place finish in the Ed Burke trials back in June.

The third trial division is the race of the night, as Marcelo Jorge’s The Goodbye Kisser will take on Balgo Racing’s West Coast Hawk. A filly by First Down Dash, The Goodbye Kisser won five of six starts at Los Alamitos last year, including a 1/2 length victories in both the John Deere California Juvenile Challenge and the PCQHRA Breeders Futurity. West Coast Hawk, meanwhile, won three of four starts at the Orange County oval this past season and was a head winner in the prestigious Kindergarten. The Goodbye Kisser and West Coast Hawk faced off at Zia Park on November 28 when they were both part of the Southwest Juvenile Championship. The Goodbye Kisser finished second in that race, while West Coast Hawk broke a bit tardy and finished sixth in the nine-horse field. His connections feel that a return home to Los Alamitos is exactly what West Coast Hawk needs to shine once again.

David and Ross Hinkins’ First Down Illusion is the one to beat in the final trial. The colt by First Down Dash made nearly $500,000 in a season that was highlighted by his half-length victory over Flying Fig in the first leg of the Los Alamitos Triple Crown. First Down Illusion would also finish third in the PCQHRA Breeders Futurity while finishing in the money in eight of 10 starts last year. Kolleen Ledgerwood’s Filthy Fast, who ran fourth in the Breeders and third in the Holiday Handicap, is also a top contender in this trial.

Winter Championship trials

The established guard of Quarter Horse racing superstars will be out in full force in Saturday’s (January 29) trials to the $214,550 Los Alamitos Winter Championship. Household names in action will include 2009 World Champion and Champion of Champions winner Freaky and multiple AQHA Champion and 2008 Champion of Champions winner Jess You And I, a pair of crowd pleasing favorites with a long list of career accomplishments. The two veterans have also won the last few runnings of this Championship, with Freaky winning ‘10 running and Jess You And I the ‘09 edition. They’ll now face a slew of new older horses hoping to make their mark in this competitive local division.

Four trials to the Winter Championship will be contested at 400 yards with the horses with the 10 fastest times advancing to the final on Saturday, February 19. The winner of the Winter Championship will earn a berth to the prestigious $750,000 Champion of Champions to be held in December at Los Alamitos.

Racing for Double Bar S Ranch, Jess You And I is now a grizzled seven-years-old gelding with iron lungs and the heart and determination of a champion. The son of Feature Mr Jess, who has won Grade 1 races like the Champion of Champions, Golden State Million Futurity and Remington Park Championship, is exiting a solid fourth place finish to 2010 World Champion Apollitical Jess in the Champion of Champions. That tremendous effort left no doubt that there’s still a lot of power left in Jess You And I’s motor. G.R. Carter will ride Jess You And I, who is a winner of 15 of 30 starts and more than $1,642,971 in earnings.

Freaky’s birth certificate now shows that he is six-years-old while entering the Winter Championship trials with a chip on his shoulder. The son of TR Dasher posted his worst finish in years when he ran sixth in the Champion of Champions, but his connections felt that it was the result of some hard luck at the start of that memorable classic. Leaving from post number three, Freaky was pinballed leaving the gate and the physical contact left him with a cut on the back of his leg. The injury took its toll and Freaky never made a strong push for a top three spot. He received stitches and the injury has healed according to his barn, which could mean that he is ready to make amends. Rodrigo Aceves will take over the mount for Francisco Rubio, who is in Mexico at this time.

The oldest of the 28 horses running in the Championship trials is Precisionist RM, who is enjoying the time of his life at his old age. The Separatist gelding won four of seven starts last year and won the Pfizer California Claiming Stakes and ran third in a division to the Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trials. The seven-year-old Separate Bet is another veteran star that will be in action in the trials.

There are plenty of accomplished young stars in the trials like multiple Grade 1 winner Good Reason SA, Sgt Pepper Handicap winner Snitcher, multiple Grade 1 stakes placed runner Princelike, PCQHRA Breeders Derby winner Whole Lot Of Karma, Southern California Derby winner Harems Last Choice and Los Alamitos Super Derby third place finisher Forrest Fire.