Jaime Gomez’s Docs Best Card qualified to his fourth major futurity of the year while holding off Little Talks by a nose when posting the fastest qualifying time to the Grade 1, $1,049,350 Golden State Million Futurity on Sunday at Los Alamitos.
Ninth in the PCQHRA Breeders Futurity in his last start, Docs Best Card bounced back with a hard-fought victory over Steve Burns’ Governor’s Cup Futurity finalist Little Talks in the seventh of 10 trials on Sunday. Ridden by Carlos Huerta, Docs Best Card finished with the fastest qualifying time of :19.770 at 400 yards with Little Talks finishing with the night’s second fastest time of :19.771.
Docs Best Card and Little Talks will now lead the 10 horse field that will compete here in the Golden State Million final on November 1. EG High Desert Farms’ Walk Thru Crystal will be part of the Golden State Million after qualifying with the 10th and final time after running second to Janet McKinnerney’s Jess A Pollitician in the sixth trial of the night. Making her first start since winning the Grade 1 Ed Burke Million Futurity on June 21, Walk Thru Crystal is still eligible to win the $1 million Los Alamitos Cash Bonanza. Walk Thru Crystal will win the $1 million cash bonus if she can win the Golden State Million final and also the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity on December 13. No horse has ever won the Los Alamitos Cash Bonanza.
Bred by Dutch Masters III, Docs Best Card improved his career record to three wins in eight career starts, but his previous top efforts have been runner-up finishes to the outstanding Walk Thru Crystal in both the Kindergarten Futurity and Ed Burke Million Futurity, a race in which he posted the fastest qualifying time. The colt by Corona Cartel came into this race after running a disappointing ninth in the PCQHRA Breeders Futurity on October 3.
“I knew he would run a better race tonight than in the Breeders Futurity final,” Gomez said. “I know my horse and I knew he did not run his race. In the (Breeders Futurity) he got dirt kicked in his face and he stopped running. I knew he would bounce back. This race will help him a lot. He needed this race after that troubled effort in the Breeders Futurity. We’ll freshen him up and take it easy with him for the next couple of weeks to get him ready for the Golden State Million final.”
Ridden by Cesar De Alba for trainer Michael Casselman, Little Talks was just inches away from defeating Docs Best Card. The filly came into this race after running fourth in the Governor’s Cup Futurity and before that she had posted three consecutive victories. Sired by Favorite Cartel and out of the Strawfly Special broodmare Babe On The Fly, Little Talks is a half sister to Ruidoso Derby and All American Gold Cup winner Rock You and to Sprint Stakes winner Carne Vino.
Jess A Politician, which edged Walk Thru Crystal in their trial, finished as the third fastest qualifier with a time of :19.845. Sired by Apollitical Jess, this was his third win in six starts, but the Golden State Million final will represent his stakes debut.
“He was one of our best 2-year-olds coming into the season, but he got sick so we had to stop and give him a break,” said trainer Jose Flores. “Janet McKinnerney was so patient with him and she just wanted us to do the right thing for the horse. She gave us the time to take care of the horse, get him healthy, and get him back to training slowly. Thanks to her patience, he finally showed us the talent that we knew he always had.
“He ran a good time,” Flores added. “He needed to have a fast time in order to beat Walk Thru Crystal. Walk Thru Crystal needed this race so I know she’ll be very tough in the final. She’s still the best and we have our work cut out for the final against her. We still have a fight ahead of us in the final, but hopefully he can run a big race again.”
Rancho El Alacran Inc’s Mi Viejo led the second trial from gate to wire to post a mildly surprising win at 5-1 odds and with the fourth fastest time of :19.875. Ridden by Rodrigo Aceves and saddled by his wife, Adriana Aceves, Mi Viejo was picking up his first career victory. The Mexican-bred colt was fifth in his only previous stakes race, the John Deere California Juvenile Challenge on August 22. Bred by Joaquin Vega, Mi Viejo is a half-brother to My Lady First, a multiples Grade 1 stakes finalist and a winner of $500,000 from 2007 through 2009 at Los Alamitos.
Trainer Chris O’Dell will be represented by two talented runners in the Golden State Million final. O’Dell qualified the fifth fastest qualifier, Parsons Family Limited Partnership’s Thermonuclear Energy in a time of :19.889, and seventh fastest qualifier Fire At Will, owned by Rosenthal Ranch, in a time of :19.921. Fire At Will has now qualified to three futurities this season after also racing in the Governor’s Cup and PCQHRA Breeders finals.
“Rosenthal Ranch picked a pretty good horse to buy in Fire At Will at the 2014 Los Alamitos Equine Sale,” O’Dell said. “Both horses ran good trial races.”
A filly by Walk Thru Fire, Thermonuclear Energy was making only her fourth career starts and she’s yet to finish out of the top two in any of those starts. She was runner-up to Mi Viejo in the second trial of the night. Thermonuclear Energy’s mother is Terrific Energy, which O’Dell trained to Grade 1 wins in the Charger Bar and Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap during her career.
John Andreini’s Gotcha Bella and Salvador Pimienta’s El Karma, a pair of runners bred by their respective owners, qualified to the final after finishing 1-2 in the third trial of the night. Trained by Mike Robbins, Gotcha Bella is a now two for two at Los Alamitos after three consecutive in the money finishes at Ruidoso Downs. El Karma, a two-time winner at the Orange County oval this year, will be making his stakes debut in the Golden State Million final. Howard Nichols’ Favorite Kiss will also make his first stakes appearance in this race after winning the eighth trial in the eighth fastest time of the night. Out of the multiple stakes winning mare The Goodbye Kisser and also sired by Favorite Cartel, the Paul Jones-trained Favorite Kiss won his trial by a length.
Completing the list of qualifiers will be Walk Thru Crystal, which advanced to the final despite losing for the first time in six starts. Yanet Rodriguez trains Walk Thru Crystal, which was ridden first the first time by Jesus Rios Ayala. She had been ridden in her five previous starts by veteran pilot Alejandro Luna.
The complete list of qualifiers to the Golden State Million Futurity is as follows: Doc Best Card (:19.770), Little Talks (:19.771), Jess A Pollitician (:19.845), Mi Viejo (:19.875), Thermonuclear Energy (:19.889), Gotcha Bella (:19.913), Fire At Will (:19.921), Favorite Kiss (:19.927), El Karma (:19.928), and Walk Thru Crystal (:19.929).