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AJS Anna Smoke sizzles to fastest time in Governor’s Cup Futurity trials


July 10, 2016     E-mail this page to a friend!

AJS Anna Smoke sets the fastest qualifying time—350 yards in :17.727—from eight trials to the Governor's Cup Futurity
(photo by Los Alamitos Race Course)
Rod MacPherson, Jr.’s AJS Anna Smoke picked up his fourth win from his first five career starts while posting the fastest qualifying time in the July 9 trials to the Governor’s Cup Futurity (RG2) at Los Alamitos.

A total of 63 runners competed in eight trials with the horses with the 10 fastest times moving on to the final to be held here as part of California Breeders Champions Night on Saturday, July 30. The evening will be an all stakes Quarter Horse racing affair headed by both the Governor’s Cup Futurity and Governors’ Cup Derby. In addition, the first 3,200 fans will receive a Los Alamitos Western Belt Buckle with their paid nighttime admission.

In the futurity trials, the John Cooper-trained AJS Anna Smoke showed the form that helped him win his first three career outings impressively. The Separatist gelding had his only defeat when he finished out of the money in the Grade 1 $1,100,000 Ed Burke Million Futurity on June 19. Bred by MacPherson, Jr.’s late wife, Anna MacPherson, AJS Anna Smoke made his connections proud with an impressive 1 ¼ length trial win, an effort that was reminiscent of his convincing wins earlier this year.

“I thought if he ran tonight like he did in any of his first three starts, we’d be right there,” said MacPherson, Jr. after AJS Anna Smoke’s win. “But if he ran like he did in his last outing, then we would have been nowhere. Fortunately he ran like he did early on. He ran a pretty good race. He’s a solid horse.”

Ridden by Cesar De Alba, AJS Anna Smoke covered the 350 yards in :17.727, which was 1/1000ths of a second faster than second fastest qualifier Seared, which defeated Up For Dashing by a head in a time of :17.728. MacPherson, Jr. will also be represented by the 10th fastest qualifier, the James Glenn, Jr.-trained and David Martin-bred Kiddy Up Cowgirl.

Glenn, Jr. trains the Kiddy Up gelding Seared for owner and breeder Ed Allred. Ridden by Eulices Gomez, Seared has won his last two outings following a third place finish in his career debut.

“He didn’t leave very well,” said Glenn, Jr. about his charge. “He’s so big. He’s good in the gate, but he’s so big that he has trouble getting himself collected. The (early leader) probably had a length on him at the start. Eulices said he just pinned his ears back and just ran by (Up For Dashing).”

Seared’s mother is the Quarter Horse Escape The Fire, a lightly raced mare campaigned by Allred. Escape The Fire’s dam is the Thoroughbred In Excess mare Celestial Being, which Allred also campaigned to wins at Del Mar and Oak Tree at Santa Anita in 2006. Celestial Being was retired after winning her only two career starts. Big in size, Seared showed a strong late kick to seal this trial win.

“You need to be patient, you let them grow into themselves,” said Glenn, Jr. when asked about training a horse with Seared’s physique. “He’ll leave better when he’s matured into that big body. As the year goes on, he’ll love 400 yards. He’s been real sound and you want him to stay sound. You start thinking about him as an older horse so you don’t want to push them, you don’t want to hurt them. You want to develop them.”

Trained by Charles Treece for Linda Cannon, Up For Dashing finished with the third fastest qualifying time of :17.744. Bred by Allred and also sired by Kiddy Up, the gelding is the fifth Governor’s Cup Futurity qualifier that Treece has trained for Cannon and her various partnerships since 2007. The first one was Bikers Bono and since then the trainer has qualified Hard Hitting, which ended up winning the 2008 Governor’s Cup Futurity, Stel Hawk, Romantic Fire, and now Up For Dashing. Romantic Fire will be racing in the trials to the Governor’s Cup Derby on Sunday after running in last year’s Governor’s Cup Futurity. De Alba rode Up For Dashing.

In addition to fastest qualifier AJS Anna Smoke, Cooper trained two other trial winners which ended up qualifying to the final. For Ron Hartley, Cooper qualified Myfavoritestreaker, the winner of the fourth trial, and American Force, the winner of the sixth trial. A gelding by Favorite Cartel, Myfavoritestreaker won his heat by a length in the fourth fastest qualifying time of :17.765, while the First Down Dash gelding American Force posted a half-length victory in the fifth fastest time of :17.841.

“You don’t see many Chicks Beduinos out there on the track anymore, but this mother is by Chicks Beduino,” said Hartley about American Force. “Myfavoritestreaker is by Favorite Cartel. He’s one of my favorite stallions.”

Hartley bred Myfavoritestreaker, but he made the decision to sell his mother, Checkoutthestreaker, at the Los Alamitos Equine Sale last year.

“We’ve had a couple of foals out of her,” said John Firth, who raises Hartley’s babies at his Firth Ranch in Hemet. “Everything out of (Checkoutthestreaker) has run, but nothing that really jumped up and really get it done for us. Of course, by the time you sell her this is what they do. Looks like (Myfavoritestreaker) will get it done for us this year. He’s fired every single time.”

Firth Ranch enjoyed a big night on Saturday. Owned and operated by John and Cathy Firth, Firth Ranch’s services include services include lay ups, breaking, foaling mares, breeding and sales prep. Qualifiers AJS Anna Smoke, American Force, Up For Dashing, Myfavoritestreaker spent significant time at Firth Ranch.

John and Cina Sperry’s Stelfast won the opening trial with Oscar Peinado aboard for trainer Paul Jones. Stelfast will be making his second stakes appearance after running in the Kindergarten Futurity in May. Smell Perfume, racing for James Streelman’s Dutch Masters III, is a full sister to 2015 multiple derby winner Bac In Front.

For the second futurity trial night in a row, Fawna Knight’s Worth Doing had to wait until the final trial to see if he would qualify for a futurity final. For the second time in a row, Tony Guymon piloted the Mark Skeen-trainee to a spot in the top 10. Worth Doing posted the ninth fastest qualifying time to the Governor’s Cup after posting the 10th fastest time to the Ed Burke Million out of the 13th and final trial. The son of Walk Thru Fire went on to run a game second in the million dollar final.

“He was so ready to go,” Guymon said. “He false broke and hit the front of the gate very hard. He still left, but not like I know that he can. We don’t have to qualify the fastest. We just have to get in.”

The complete list of qualifiers is as follows; AJS Anna Smoke (:17.727), Seared (:17.728), Up For Dashing (:17.744), Myfavoritestreaker (:17.765), American Force (:17.841), Stelfast (:17.865), Smell Perfume (:17.907), A Bit Quirky (:17.916), Worth Doing (:17.928), and Kiddy Up Cowgirl (:17.935).