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First big trials of the New Year: 32 set to compete for Los Alamitos Winter Derby slots on Saturday night

January 26, 2012     E-mail this page to a friend!

The battle for early supremacy in the sophomore division at Los Alamitos Race Course kicks off on Saturday night when 32 high caliber 3-year-olds compete in the trials to the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby at 400 yards. Four trials will be contested on the night beginning with the fifth race on the card. A total of 10 races are on tap with first post set for the now usual starting time of 5:00 p.m.

Things heat up quickly in the Winter Derby trials, as three of the big names of the night will square off in the opening trial. How's this for a big three: Holiday Handicap winner Kobe, the ultra talented and lightly raced Once Over and multiple graded futurity finalist Long Gone with face off in this race.

Racing for Mark and Mary Parsons, Kobe arrives on a hot streak. Named after future Hall of Fame basketball player Kobe Bryant, the colt by Mr Eye Opener has delivered slam dunk wins in each of his last three starts. He was at his best in the Holiday Handicap on January 1, as the Paul Jones-trained runner broke on top and cruised to a dominant half-length victory.

Racing for Ed Allred and trained by Scott Willoughby, Once Over will be making only his fourth career start in the trials and first since winning his Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity trial heat back on November 20. The son of Walk Thru Fire is out of the stakes winning mare Look Her Over, who enjoyed some of her best races in 400-yard races, which make Once Over perfectly built for this distance. Based on that, the Allred-bred sprinter figures to be flying in the final 100 yards and if he can put it all together, he’ll be very special to watch. Antonio Alberto, the 2011 Val Tonks Awards winner as the top up and coming Quarter Horse jockey, will ride the impressive colt.

LJM Ranches’ Long Gone absolutely loves trial races. In 2011, the son of TR Dasher competed in five trials and he won four of those events. After running third in his Kindergarten Futurity trial, Long Gone rattled off qualifying victories to the Governor’s Cup, PCQHRA Breeders and Golden State Million futurities. He won his Two Million trial, but narrowly missed making to the $2,236,000 final. Felipe Quintero will saddle Long Gone.

The second Winter Derby trial features a Farm Girl and a City Girl. True, the two fillies are full sisters, but they’ll be carrying different color silks in this trial. Racing for Donald and Peggy Boyle, BF Farm Girl will start from along the rail while looking to make amends from her troubled seventh place finish in the Holiday Handicap. Her big rival in this race could be Pazazz Quarterhorses’ OC City Girl, who came within a whisker or two from making the Two Million field after she won her trial for trainer Connie Hall.

Both fillies were sired by First Down Dash and are out of the outstanding broodmare Shirleys Strawfly. Robert Williams’ Flame N Flash, winner of the Los Alamitos Juvenile Invitational, and the stakes placed Illegal Smile will also compete here.

Trainer Scott Willoughby enjoyed a lot of success a couple of years ago with the flying filly Lindas Dasher for owners Christian and Ru Anna Singletary. Willoughby will now saddle Lindas Dasher’s daughter, Tres Of Linda, against Double Bar S Ranch’s Driving Miss Dazie in the third trial of the night. C. Hales and the Singletarys own Tres Of Linda. Top runners like Red Dirt Bono, Natalie Dash and Sex On Fire will also compete in this race.

The final trial will be headed by Markel Handicap winner Testing The Ice and Holiday Handicap runner-up Check My Thoughts. Testing The Ice flew under the radar last season for owners Jesus Avila and Jesus Cuevas, as the owners also campaigned the outstanding two-time Grade 1 finalist Last To Fire, but this race could be a coming out party for the Stoli gelding. Allred’s Check My Thoughts is a monster in the final 100 yards of his races. In addition to the Holiday, he won two stakes last year.