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Kindergarten winner worth every penny

May 21, 2006     E-mail this page to a friend!

Los Alamitos Race Course, May 20 - When Jaime Gomez asked Edgar Beltran the question at the 2005 Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale, Beltran responded without any doubt. "Do you want this filly?" Gomez asked Beltran, just moments after the trainer had secured the winning bid for the Michael Pohl-bred Vachetta for $40,000.

"Edgar said, 'Yes, Jaime, I want her.' " Gomez recalled. "He said it just like that."

"My dad hesitated at first," Beltran added. "But I told Jaime, 'I want that filly.' "

Eight months have now passed and in this case, son knew best. Vachetta has since proved to be one heck of a deal for the Beltran Ranch, as she improved to a perfect three for three while earning $136,878 for winning Saturday's Grade 1 $325,900 Kindergarten Futurity at Los Alamitos.

Sent off as the second choice in the wagering at 5-2 odds, the filly by Corona Cartel beat Dutch Masters III's Check This Runner, a gelding also trained by Gomez, by lengths on the way to covering the 300-yard distance in :15.26. Ridden by Alejandro Luna, Vachetta equaled the fastest time for a 2-year-old at this meeting while posting the fastest clocking for a filly in the Kindergarten since it became a 300-yard race in 1998. Vachetta s winning time was also just 8/100ths of a second shy of the stakes record set by champion 2-year-old colt Hawkish in 2003.

"She's the best 2-year-old that Ive ever owned," said Beltran, a resident of Denver, Colorado, and the owner of Viva Burrito, a popular Mexican fast food chain in Colorado and Arizona. "Jaime took us to see her at the sale and she looked impressive. We figured that she would go for about $80,000 to $100,000."

"She was Hip #10 at the sale, so entering the sales ring early may have helped us get her at a price," Gomez said. "I wanted her. I figured that even if Edgar then decided that he didn't want her, somebody else would. She's that nice of a filly."

Like her unblemished record indicates, Vachetta has done nothing wrong in her so far brilliant career. An impressive 2- length win in her racing debut on April 15 was followed by a 1 length win and second fastest qualifying time of :15.31 in the Kindergarten trials on May 6.

She was all business in the final, as she recovered from a bump at the start to pull away from the field. Corona Deluxe ran third with Positively Powerful and favorite Poly Gyve One Corona running fourth and fifth, respectively. Gone First, Fast As A Dream, Coyote Code and Mr Premier Lv completed the field. Jess Sass Me was scratched.

Vachetta is the first foal out of the stakes placed mare Dash Fast Girl, who is a full sister of Manor Downs Handicap winner Fast First Dash. Vachetta's fourth dam is First Prize Rose, who is the mother of the great champion runner and sire First Down Dash.

Vachetta's bottom side also features stakes winner First A Rose, All American Derby finalist First Prize Dash, Blue Ribbon Futurity winner Heza Fast Dash and Heritage Place Futurity winner Fast First Prize.

Her triumph helped give Gomez his fifth Kindergarten win in 11 years and second in a row. His first Kindergarten win came with Vachetta's sire Corona Cartel in 1996. The Kindergarten has always been kind to the trainer. Last year, he saddled the first and third place finishers in Gold Nugget Rd and Higher Fire. Gomez did one better this year, as he nailed the top two spots.

"Check This Runner, he ran a great race," the trainer added. "Everything went right with these two runners and I'm sure that he s going to like more distance. He's a big horse with a great stride."

Check This Runner earned $55,403 for Dutch Masters III, who was looking for their fourth Kindergarten win in seven years. At least the owners have the consolation of knowing that Check This Runner is eligible to the Los Alamitos $1 Million Cash Bonanza featuring the Ed Burke Million, Golden State Million and Los Alamitos Two Million futurities. Ironically, Vachetta is not eligible to either the Golden State Million or Los Alamitos Two Million.

"She's in the Ed Burke Million Futurity but that's it for her here after that," Gomez said."I made a mistake with her. She should have been in all of the big races here but I forgot to make the payments. It was my mistake. If she shows us that she likes the 350-yard distance in the Ed Burke, we could pay the $50,000 supplement to run her in the All-American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs."

Does that sound good to Beltran? "Jaime manages this filly," he said. "If that's what he thinks we should do, I'm all for it."

The Beltrans have been involved in horse racing longer than Edgar can remember. "My father always had horses," Beltran said. "My grandfather had horses, my father' s grandfather had horses. We've been around racing for a long time."

Originally from San Luis Potosi in Mexico, Beltran spent time in Chicago and California in his youth. The now 36-year-old owner is also former service army infantryman, who served in the Gulf War and in Panama. In the past Beltran Ranch, which is only the family s business name, has campaigned the likes of Boda Bing, Red Clay of Texas, Victorys Hope and Mairis Cartel.

Trained by Paul Jones and ridden by Cody Jensen, Lucas Racing Inc's Corona Deluxe earned $39,108 for her third place finish.

"I'm happy with her effort," Jones said. "She ran strong and third place isn't bad against this tough of a group. She'll be able to run farther 350 yards will be okay for her. I think she'll like that distance."

Corona Deluxe is also eligible to the Bonanza.

One horse that will be missing in action from the major futurities is fastest qualifier Poly Gyve One Corona, who was the 25-10 favorite in this race.

"He broke so hard that he slipped coming out of there and then he got bumped, said trainer Elena Andrade. "It's all about the start when you're going against the best at 300 yards. He s not paid into anything else, so we'll give him a break. We have nothing to be disappointed about. At the start of the year our goal was to see him qualify to the Kindergarten Futurity. We did that plus he ran fifth in the final. He'll go have a rest now."

As for the rest, their attention now turns to the Ed Burke Million Futurity trials to be held on Saturday, June 10.