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La Primera kicks off weekend of derbies at Los Alamitos

April 5, 2012     E-mail this page to a friend!

This Boogie Fires sets the fastest time—400 yards in :19.788—from three trials to Friday's La Primera Del Ano Derby
(photo by Scott Martinez, courtesy of Los Alamitos Race Course)
Derby fever hits Los Alamitos Race Course this weekend, as two of the meet’s top derbies headline the two-night racing action.

Friday’s main event is the $214,300 La Primera Del Ano Derby headed by fastest qualifier This Boogie Fires, while the El Primero Del Ano Derby will see Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby winner Kobe take on fastest qualifier New Look and several other top runners on Saturday. Los Alamitos will be dark on Sunday evening in observance of Easter Sunday. Racing returns next Friday, April 13.

The derby excitement begins with the La Primera and the talented filly This Boogie Fires, who pulled away from her rivals to win her trial by a half length. Second fastest qualifier Miss Lily Rose will not compete in Friday’s La Primera, but Los Alamitos Winter Derby fourth place finisher Flame N Flash and 2011 futurity finalists A First Down Snow, Natalie Dash, and Sex On Fire will see action in this 400-yard race. Jaime Gomez saddles This Boogie Fire for owners Carlos Lopez and Mike Abraham. She’ll be ridden by Eduardo Nicasio, who rides her for the third time.

“I’ m learning a little bit more about her each day,” Nicasio said. “One thing I learned in her second start is that I have to stay busy with her. I have to keep her mind on running. I kept showing her the whip in the trials so that she knew that she still had work to do.”

This Boogie Fire ran third in the Kindergarten Futurity last year.

Trainer Jaime Gomez is excited about his chances with This Boogie Fires. “We stood her in the gate to get her ready for this race and she behaved nicely and did everything perfect,” he said. “I would have liked to draw a little farther away from the rail because she ran fifth the only time that she drew an inside post. To be honest, it’s all luck. I think we have a good chance and the filly is coming into this race happy and in good shape. Nicasio knows exactly what to do with her.”

Robert Williams’ Flame N Flash has been highly consistent during her racing career and has to be considered one of the favorites in the La Primera Del Ano Derby. Trained by Juan Aleman, Flame N Flash recovered from a slow start in her her derby trials and flew from there to score a half-length victory over Zoomdasher. Two races back, Flame N Flash took on the boys and delivered a solid fourth place finish in the Grade 1 Winter Derby. Bred by Ed Allred, the daughter of Walk Thru Fire is a half sister of champions Hawkinson and Hawkish and her class and current form makes her impossible to ignore in Friday’s La Primera. Francisco Rubio rides her from post one.

Jeryl Hartley and John Firth’s Chickitita could be the Cinderella of the La Primera. The filly was claimed last year and she’s since posted several gutsy performances, including an allowance victory last August. She has been very solid this year, as she finished third in the Huntington Beach Handicap and then came back to run second Natalie Dash in a derby trial. John Cooper, one of the all-time great trainers at Los Alamitos, saddles Chickitita from post seven. Cooper has won nearly 1,300 Quarter Horse races and saddled 83 stakes winners at Los Alamitos, but the veteran is still looking for his first ever victory in the La Primera. Antonio Alberto will pilot the filly.

Brenda and Harvey Pickens’ A First Down Snow has done well in trials in her career at Los Alamitos. She has been in action three times in trials and she’s qualified each time. She had to work hard in the La Primera trials, as she broke well behind the leaders before making up ground to finish third. The filly definitely needs a sharp break in order to contend, as This Boogie Fires and Flame N Flash do not look like the type of horses that get caught in the final yards.

Bustardo Horse Racing LLC’s First Prize Habit will be taking part in the biggest race of her career. The filly only broke her maiden two races ago, but she comes a good female family and she’ll be ridden by top jockey Rodrigo Aceves. Sex On Fire, who was fifth in the Ed Burke Million Futurity, Natalie Dash, who was sixth in the PCQHRA Breeders Futurity, Sweetest Illusion and Zoomdasher complete the field.

Trials report

This Boogie Fires looks great in La Primera trials

Racing for Mike Abraham and Carlos Lopez, This Boogie Fires turned back the clock to her freshman campaign when she posted a scintillating victory in the Kindergarten Futurity trials. The daughter of Walk Thru Fire ran similar race in her trial to the $214,300 La Primera Del Ano Derby trial, as she broke sharply from the outside post seven to outduel Miss Lily Rose by a half-length in the fastest qualifying time of :19.788 at 400 yards on Saturday (March 17) at Los Alamitos.

Trained by Jaime Gomez and ridden by two-time Champion of Champions winning jockey Eduardo Nicasio, This Boogie Fires had not won since the Kindergarten trials back on May 8. To her credit, the Gomez-bred filly had delivered several nice efforts since her last win. She ran third in the Kindergarten final behind AQHA champion 2-year-old filly Separate Fire and multiple Grade 1 finalist Kindly Fellow and also finished second to eventual Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity third place finisher Last To Check Him in the trials to that race. Her last effort, however, was a forgettable one, as she broke poorly and never challenged when running fifth in the Huntington Beach Handicap.

“She threw her head at the start of her last race,” Abraham said. “She threw her head a little bit in this race, but it did not affect her. We’ve always felt that she was a good one and it’s nice when a horse runs like you expect that they will run. We thought she would do well tonight and it’s great to qualify.”

The La Primera is the only derby at Los Alamitos strictly for fillies. Its previous winners include champions Florentine, Ah Sigh, IBA Dasher, Mini Rock and Alice K White. The 2012 La Primera final will be held on Friday, April 6, and in addition to This Boogie Fires it will also feature Los Alamitos Winter Derby finalist Flame N Flash and PCQHRA Breeders Futurity finalist Natalie Dash. Flame N Flash and Natalie Dash won the other two trials to the La Primera on Saturday night.

“There are plenty of nice Quarter Horse races out there and it’s nice to see a race only for fillies,” Abraham said. “I like to run fillies so this is a nice race for them. Fillies can have an advantage as 2-year-olds because they tend to mature a little faster than the boys, but by the time that they are older horses the males usually have a nice edge. Right now when they are early in their 3-year-old year there is not a huge difference between the girls and the boys, but it’s still nice to have a series like the El Primero and La Primera. It’s nice to qualify a filly to a good race like the La Primera.”

Robert Williams’ Flame N Flash took on some tough boys in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby on February 18 and she came out of it with a solid fourth place finish behind El Primero Del Ano Derby hopeful Kobe, All American Derby hopeful Deniro and multiple stakes winner Check My Thoughts. Ridden by Francisco Rubio for trainer Juan Aleman, Flame N Flash defeated Jose and Gustavo De La Torre’s Zoomdasher by a half-length while posting the third fastest time of :19.892. Also sired by Walk Thru Fire, Flame N Flash has now finished third or better in eight of 10 career starts. She won the $35,000 Los Alamitos Juvenile Invitational Stakes on December 11.

Jose Flores saddled Tremor Enterprises’ Natalie Dash to an easy daylight victory in the opening La Primera trial of the night. The First Down Dash filly battled with Jeryl Hartley and John Firth’s Chickitita early on before pulling away to score her third career victory in eight starts. Natalie Dash won in a time of :19.958. She was sixth in last year’s $500,000 PCQHRA Breeders Futurity. Trained by John Cooper, Chickitita will also compete in the La Primera after finishing with the 10th fastest time of the night. The Tac It Like A Man filly was claimed for $12,500 by her owners after only her second career start.

“I saw that her mother was by Corona Cartel and I love Tac It Like A Man,” said Jeryl’s husband, Ron Hartley. “When I asked John Firth what he thought about her he really liked her and that was good enough for me. We became partners and claimed her.”

Chickitita finished third in the Huntington Beach and Markel Stakes last year. Here’s the complete list of qualifiers to the La Primera Del Ano Derby: This Boogie Fires (:19.788), Miss Lily Rose (:19.859), Flame N Flash (:19.892), Zoomdasher (:19.943), Natalie Dash (:19.958), A First Down Snow (:19.995), Sex On Fire (:20.026), Sweetest Illusion (:20.056), First Prize Habit (:20.091) and Chickitita (:20.107).