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Docs Best Card proves best on Ed Burke Million trials night

June 8, 2015     E-mail this page to a friend!

Docs Best Card sets the fastest time—350 yards in :17.633—from 13 trials to the Ed Burke Million Futurity
(photo by Los Alamitos Race Course)
From runner-up in the Kindergarten Futurity to top qualifier in the trials to the Grade 1 $1,030,000 Ed Burke Million Futurity, Jaime Gomez’s Docs Best Card was one of the stars of a great night of racing on Sunday, June 7, at Los Alamitos Race Course.

A total of 100 juveniles competed in 13 trials at 350 yards with Docs Best Card earning the honor of fastest qualifier after winning the fifth trial—in a time of :17.633—after leading from start to finish. Ridden by Carlos Huerta from post number six, Docs Best Card picked up his second win in four career starts. He’ll now square off with Walk Thru Crystal in the Ed Burke Million final in a rematch between the top two finishers in the Kindergarten Futurity. Walk Thru Crystal finished with the third fastest qualifying time after winning the 11th trial in :17.708, while the second fastest qualifying time went to Howard Nichols’ We Like Corona, the winner of the 6th trial in :17.654.

“Docs Best Card is one of easy going horses that you’ll find,” Gomez said. “He sleeps all day and for still being a colt his temperament is so nice and calm. This horse has a great mind and a wonderful temperament. He doesn’t waste any energy. He saves it all for running.”

Gomez purchased Docs Best Card from breeder James Streelman of Dutch Masters III.

“Dr. Streelman sold several of his horses and I asked him if I could buy Docs Best Card,” Gomez said.

Gomez knew Docs Best Card’s breeding well. Sired by Corona Cartel, the legendary stallion which Gomez trained with great success, Docs Best Card is out of the great producer, Docs First Card. Her sons and daughters include Docs Best Card’s half sister Secret Card and half brother Twin Spires, both winners in the Kindergarten Futurity for owner Dutch Masters III and with Gomez as the trainer. Gomez also trained Dutch Masters III’s Docs Apollo, another half brother of Docs Best Card and a winner of the 2011 Golden State Derby.

The horses with the 10 fastest times in the Ed Burke trials will return here for the final on Sunday, June 21. The complete list of qualifiers is as follows: Docs Best Card (:17.633), We Like Corona (:17.654), Walk Thru Crystal (:17.708), Jess Flying By (:17.713), Rolll Tide (:17.752), Budder Think Twice (:17.765), Sale Topper (:17.783), Bookish (:17.823), Toughie (:17.827), and Thru The Night (:17.832).

The Ed Burke Million is the first jewel of the track’s $1 million Los Alamitos Cash Bonanza, which serves as the track’s Triple Crown series. The two other jewels in the Los Alamitos Cash Bonanza are the Golden State Million Futurity and the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity. Eight of the 10 Ed Burke Million finalists are eligible to win the Los Alamitos Cash Bonanza. The only two that are not eligible are Toughie and Thru The Night. Toughie is not nominated to run in either the Golden State Million or Los Alamitos Two Million trials, while Thru The Night is not nominated to the Golden State Million.

Docs Best Card could win the track’s Triple Crown and with American Pharoah’s historic Triple Crown victory on Saturday, Gomez was eager to talk about the Triple Crown.

“Bob Baffert has a great friend for many years and I was so happy to see him win the Triple Crown,” said Gomez of the former Los Alamitos Quarter Horse trainer. “He made me cry when I saw him in the winner’s circle. It was amazing. I used to be a horse agent for him when he was here and we became good friends. We lived in the same house at Bay Meadows and he’s the one that helped me get a job with Dutch Masters III. When he left to go train Thoroughbred, he gave me a lot of his training equipment. I owe him a lot of favors. He deserves the Triple Crown. He’s a hard worker and a great horseman. The two best horsemen that I’ve ever met are Bob Baffert and the late Blane Schvaneveldt.”

Gomez will now have a chance to win his own Triple Crown at Los Alamitos.

Corona Cartel also sired second fastest qualifier We Like Corona, a gelding Nichols purchased for $51,000 at the Los Alamitos Equine Sale.

“My wife, Laurie, picked this horse,” Nichols said. “I used to own a horse named Vault in partnership with my good friend, the late Kim Kessinger, and this horse’s head and face looks a lot like Vault. We were at the Equine Sale and my wife saw We Like Corona and just said, ‘I want this horse.’ I said ‘ok’ and I was bought him.”

Ridden by Cruz Mendez and trained by Jose Flores, We Like Corona improved to a perfect two for two. His maiden victory was a wire-to-wire victory by ¾ lengths on April 26, while his trial effort was an impressive 1 ¼ length win.

“In the last 100 yards of his debut he just found another gear,” Nichols said. “That told us that he was a runner. He did not break as fast today as in his debut, but as soon as Cruz got after him he responded and he found that gear once again.”

We Like Corona is out of the 8-year-old broodmare Jess Jets, a sister of Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Championship winner Gold Medal Jess.

Walk Thru Crystal is now undefeated in four career starts following a dominant length win for jockey Alejandro Luna and trainer Yanet Rodriguez. Three of Walk Thru Crystal’s four wins have been in wire-to-wire fashion, including this trial effort. She trailed only at the start of her Kindergarten trial on May 3 before flying to take the lead the rest of the race.

“She’s a very intelligent filly and she does things easily,” said Enrique Gonzalez. “She doesn’t get flustered. She’s always very relaxed. I know she’ll do the best she can in the final against a very strong field.”

Bred by Armando Leon and La Presita LLC, Walk Thru Crystal is the daughter of Walk Thru Fire out of Grade 1 Los Alamitos stakes finalist Corona Crystal.

Legacy Ranch, Inc and Muller Racing LLC’s Jess Flying By kicked off the racing action with a solid ¾ length victory in the first trial on Sunday. Ridden by Tony Guymon for trainer Denny Ekins, the homebred filly made no mistakes, as she broke perfectly from the outside post on the way to recording the fourth fastest time. Sired by Mr Jess Perry, Jess Flying By is out of the AQHA champion filly Flying Fig. Owned by Legacy Ranch, FlyingFig ran second in the 2010 Ed Burke Million. She was also the runner-up in that year’s Golden State Million and Los Alamitos Two Million.

“I wish I was still running Flying Fig,” said Pete Parella of Legacy Ranch. “We’re so happy with Jess Flying By. She was born and raised at the ranch. She reminds me a lot of Flying Fig. (Ranch manager) Shaun Hadley trained this filly at the ranch before sending her to Denny here at the track.”

Parella owns about 50 Quarter Horses that he keeps at his Legacy Ranch to go along with 60 of his Thoroughbreds. The ranch, which is located in Clements, California, is home to a total of 300 horses.

Docs Best Card is one of three horses that Gomez qualified to the Ed Burke Million. The trainer also saddled Rolll Tide and Thru The Night to spots in the final on June 21st. Owned by Jesus Avila and Jesus Cuevas, Rolll Tide won his trial by the night’s largest margin of 1 ½ lengths.

“We bought him as a yearling at the Heritage Place Yearling Sale,” Avila said. “From there he went to (Cuevas’) ranch in Fresno. We just let him loose to enjoy the grass at the ranch. The horse loved it there and he’s looked good so far in his first two starts. The way we pick horses is that the two of us and my son, Jose Avila, look at the horses and we come up with the decisions as a group. We respect each other’s opinion.”

With Carlos Huerta aboard, Rolll Tide posted the fifth fastest qualifying time of :17.752.

After watching his dad, Mike Joiner, saddle the winner of the Ruidoso Futurity in First Valiant Sign, trainer Cody Joiner went to work with his terrific prospect Budder Think Twice in the fourth Ed Burke Million trial. The First Down Dash filly did not disappoint, as she left the gate sharply from post number one before holding off Ed Allred’s fast charging Sale Topper in the night’s sixth fastest time. Owned by McCole Land And Livestock, Budder Think Twice also improved her record to two wins in as many starts.

“She had a good start, but Sale Topper was coming on strong,” Joiner said. “I was getting worried because it looked like she was hanging a little bit, but (jockey Omar Reyes) said that once she felt the pressure and he got after her that the filly responded and just kept on going.”

The victory was the first ever at Los Alamitos for 21-year-old jockey Omar Reyes. Reyes picked up the mount after jockey Ricky Ramirez notified Joiner that he would have to stay at Ruidoso Downs to ride in the Ruidoso Futurity in place of injured jockey Cody Jensen.

“Omar’s agent called me from Ruidoso Downs and told me that Omar could help me,” Joiner said. “Omar has helped me before at Remington Park and Ruidoso Downs and he’s a young and talented rider.”

The Kansas native has been riding for the past two years and this was his first visit to Los Alamitos.

“I’m glad to be here,” Reyes said. “This was my first mount and it’s amazing to pick up a win. You enjoy the visit a lot more when you are fortunate enough to get a win.”

Bred by Double Bar S Ranch, Budder Think Twice is out of Budderfly Effect, which was a finalist in major stakes events at Los Alamitos. McCole Land And Livestock of Provo, Utah is a Quarter Horse Breeding and Racing operation headed by Keith Nellesen, a successful entrepreneur and investor. Nellesen co-founded Vivint, the largest privately owned Security and Home Automation company in North America. Nellesen served as CFO and president for Vivint as it grew from 19 employees to more than 4,200 during his tenure. Based on her first two starts, Budder Think Twice looks like another fine investment made by Nellesen.

Ed Allred’s Sale Topper made one of the best closing moves of the night, as he recovered from getting bumped at the start to finish second by a head to Budder Think Twice. Scott Willoughby saddled the Walk Thru Fire gelding. Also qualifying were Salvador Pimienta’s Bookish, which finished second to We Like Corona in the trials; Chuck Stojan’s Toughie, another filly that qualified with a perfect record after two starts; and Dutch Masters III’s Thru The Night, which once again posted the 10th fastest qualifying time. Thru The Night was also the 10th fastest qualifier to the Kindergarten, but he tied for that honor with Unclaimed Dividend. Thru The Night got the final spot in the Kindergarten final after winning a shake over Unclaimed Dividend. No shake will be necessary this time around, as Thru The Night is the sole owner of the 10th and final qualifying spot.