The Racing Journal Logo

1-2 finishers in Kindergarten headline Grade 1 Ed Burke Million on Sunday

June 20, 2015     E-mail this page to a friend!

In a year in which Triple Crown excitement has reach great heights, Los Alamitos Race Course’s version of the Triple Crown gets underway with a tremendous cast of 2-year-olds in the running of the Grade 1, $1,030,300 Ed Burke Million Futurity on Sunday night, June 21. First post is 5:20 p.m local time. The Ed Burke Million is the first jewel of the track’s Triple Crown—the $1,000,000 Los Alamitos Cash Bonanza. The winner of the Ed Burke Million could go on to win the Los Alamitos Cash Bonanza if he/she goes on to win the Golden State Million Futurity and Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity. No horse has ever won the Los Alamitos Cash Bonanza.

This year’s Ed Burke Million field will be headed by first and second place finishers in the Grade 2 Kindergarten Futurity. Walk Thru Crystal is undefeated in four starts and got the better of Docs Best Card when winning the Kindergarten final. Ridden by Alejandro Luna and trained by Yanet Rodriguez, Walk Thru Crystal showed that her Kindergarten win was no fluke in the Ed Burke Million trials. The Walk Thru Fire filly ran one of her best races ever, as she won her trial by a length while posting the third fastest qualifying time.

Note: See the trials report at

Jaime Gomez’s Docs Best Card comes in after posting the fastest qualifying time in the trials of :17.63. The colt by Corona Cartel is a half brother of former Kindergarten winner and champion filly Secret Card and so far he’s performed like he’s one of the best 2-year-olds in the country.

“He’s doing perfect,” said Gomez, who owns and trains the Docs Best Card. “All the horses in the field are dangerous rivals, but my horse is doing great so I like his chances that he’ll run a good race. We’ve taken him to the gate twice recently. We took him last Saturday and we took him on Wednesday morning. He’s done everything great.”

“I’ve won the Ed Burke Million before as a trainer, but never as an owner,” Gomez added. “But I tell you I don’t feel any different about this race even though I train and also own this horse. My horses are like my kids. They all feel like they’re mine even when I’m only the trainer. I enjoy it to the fullest when they do well and it hurts when things don’t go their way. They’re like my children.”

Bred by Dutch Masters III, Docs Best Card will start from post number four with Carlos Huerta aboard.

Walk Thru Crystal is not the only unbeaten horse racing in the Ed Burke Million, as there a total of three undefeated runners in the race. Howard Nichols’ We Like Corona and Howard Nichols’ Toughie also enter this race with unblemished records. Interestingly, Walk Thru Crystal, We Like Corona and Toughie are all graduates of the Los Alamitos Equine Sale. They bring in a combined record of eight wins from eight starts.

Howard Nichols’ We Like Corona has been sensational this year. The Corona Cartel gelding won his career debut by ¾ lengths and then posted the second fastest qualifying time in trials after winning by 1¼ lengths in a time of :17.65. We Like Corona is also trained by Jose Flores, who won the Ed Burke Million last year with Heza Dasha Fire.

“They’re both very intelligent horses,” Flores said when comparing the two. “They had smarts right from day one. We Like Corona is not a very big horse so I like it that’s he’s drawn the outside post.”

With leading jockey Cruz Mendez aboard, We Like Corona will start from the outside post number nine. Chuck Stojan’s Toughie sparkled in her maiden victory, as she cruised victoriously by 1 1/4 lengths. The filly by Stel Corona then won her trial by a length while posting the ninth fastest time.

“Toughie is a pretty filly. I really liked her photo in the Equine Sale photo supplement and I really liked her catalog page,” said of Stojan, who lives in Canada. “I always like to buy a yearling like Stel Corona. I’ve had luck with them in the past. They all seem to have a nice gear and the ability to go on overdrive after about 300 yards.”

Stojan has been lucky in 2015. From six starters in Canada, he’s enjoyed five winners and a third place finisher. Plus Toughie is two for two in California. Now Stojan is dreaming of one more trip to the winner’s circle on Sunday night.

“I’ll be proud of her win or lose,” Stojan added. “When we got her she was eligible to the Ed Burke Million and it just seemed like the right thing to do to keep her in the race. Her being here is a combination of good luck and a bit of good management. I’ve got about eight of us coming to the races on Sunday. We’re going to have a good time.”

Stojan used to claim horses at Los Alamitos, campaign them here, before taking most of them to Canada to race. He stopped that practice a few years back before starting once again a couple of years ago.

“My girlfriend and I were on a cruise to Cabo San Lucas and had a couple of days stay in California. I figured I would pay the track a visit and when I saw the parked cars and that the lights were on it all came back to me. I came back the next morning to find my good friend (Charles Treece) and we ended up talking for about three hours. Before I left I told him, ‘You know I should have a horse running here.’ ” That’s how I started at Los Alamitos again.”

McColee Land and Livestock’s Budder Think Twice has also delivered wins in her two career starts. She scored a hard-fought victory over the talented Sale Topper in their trial race to give her the sixth fastest qualifying time. Cody Joiner will saddle Budder Think Twice, who’ll be ridden by the 21-year-old Omar Reyes, a rising star in the sport. Reyes enjoyed his first ever win at the Orange County track when he piloted the Double Bar S Ranch-bred mare to victory in the trials.

Ed Allred’s Sale Topper made a monster move in the trials and could be the late threat in this race. Trained by Scott Willoughby, Sale Topper was fifth at the start of the 350-yard dash and just missed catching Budder Think Twice at the wire. Ramon Sanchez will ride the gelding.

Jesus Avila and Jesus Cuevas’ Rolll Tide posted the fifth fastest qualifying time in the trials. He certainly lived up to his name on trial night, as he was “Rolling” right from the start on the way to posting the largest winning margin of the evening. Jaime Gomez will saddle Rolll Tide, who’ll be ridden by big-money jockey Saul Ramirez, Jr. The field will be completed by Dutch Masters III’s Thru The Night and Salvador Pimienta’s Bookish, a pair of talented runner with second place efforts on trial night.