LARC NEWS Posted: 5/27/2024 2:51:53 AM

ON A RECORD NIGHT, UP TO PARTY IS FASTEST QUALIFIER TO ED BURKE MILLION

         On an evening that featured record handle figures for the Ed Burke Million Futurity trials night, the stars shined brightly at Los Alamitos Race Course as highly regarded juveniles like Ed Allred’s Norco, Angel Salazar’s Devils Tower and Keith Nellesen’s My Budd all posted impressive victories in route to qualifying to the $1,010,000 Ed Burke Million final to be held here on Sunday, June 16.

          At the top of the qualifying list was Dunn Ranch’s Up To Party (photo), a filly bred in California by Ed Allred and Tom Seibly, who posted her second career victory in as many starts as one of the bargain yearling purchases of 2023. Sired by the 19-year-old stallion Kiddy Up, who resides at Allred’s Rolling A Ranch in Atascadero, California, Up To Party was bought for only $12,000 at last year’s Los Alamitos Equine Sale. Out of Golden State Million Futurity winner The Partys On Fire, Up To Party won the fifth of 12 Ed Burke Million trials after posting a ¾ length victory from post number one while covering the 350-yard distance in :17.583.

One of four winners on the night for the combination of jockey Armando Cervantes and trainer Monty Arrossa, Up To Party was fourth at the start before taking the lead shortly after and then finishing ahead of Robs Reason, who also qualified to the Ed Burke from this trial.

          The two qualifiers from trial five will now headline what shapes up to be an all-star cast of juveniles in the Ed Burke final. The list of qualifiers is as follows: Up To Party (:17.583), Norco (:17.649), Devils Tower (:17.691), My Budd (:17.729), Robs Reason (:17.736), Big Hurt (:17.742), Fear N Fridays (:17.775), Ultimate Battle (:17.796), Laredeaux (:17.831), Jess Send Kevin (:17.837). 

          The 12-race card produced an all-sources total handle of $2,463,622, which is a record figure for the Ed Burke Trials, bettering the previous mark of $2,447,745 set on June 7, 2020. This year’s Ed Burke handle is also the highest of the meet and the highest at Los Alamitos since last year’s 14-race Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity trials night on November 18. All in all, the 2024 Ed Burke trials resulted in the ninth highest single night handle figure in the 74-year history of Los Alamitos Race Course. 

          Arrossa had a total of five trials winners and four qualifiers to the Ed Burke. With Up To Party leading the way, he also qualified Fear N Fridays, who previously posted the fastest qualifying time to the Robert Adair Kindergarten Futurity, Ultimate Battle, who finished second to Fear N Fridays in their trial, and Laredeaux, who has won both of his career starts.

          “I’m really proud of the horses and really proud of my team,” Arrossa said. “We had 16 horses running tonight which is probably a record for us, and I have to give the credit to them. They organized everything, they had all these horses ready to run and just proud of my guys. I’m thankful towards our owners. They’ve sent us some nice horses. Some of these horses we had to bounce them back fast after the Kindergarten. The horses were doing well. It’s been a good night.”

          “(Up To Party) is real business minded,” Arrossa said. “I love good filly when they get dialed in. They get tough. She ran a great maiden race here and came back and ran a super trial race tonight. J Fire Up was an amazing Kiddy Up filly and we really like back this filly is doing right now.

          “Ultimate Battle got a little hot in the gates last time in his maiden and has matured a lot. He put in a nice race. (Jockey) James Flores said he was a little green away from there but was really closing in the end.”

          Owned by AGMW Racing and bred by Thurston Quarter Horses, Fear N Fridays won his trial by a head over Buckway Ranch LLC’s Ultimate Battle. Fear N Fridays, who’ll look to improve on his troubled ninth place finish in the Kindergarten, is the son of PYC Fun And Fancy. Ultimate Battle, a colt by Favorite Cartel and out of the top mare Just Walk, was purchased for $137,000 at the Ruidoso Yearling Sale from breeder Steve Burns.

          Gregg Gibson and Steve Wright’s Laredeaux was purchased for $75,000 at the Heritage Place Sale. Bred by Bobby Cox, Laredeaux is a Texas-bred gelding by Favorite Cartel out of Jessa Louisiana Zoom. He won his maiden by 1 ¼ lengths and followed it up by winning his Ed Burke trial by a ½ length.

          Allred’s Norco (photo), a gelding by Favorite Cartel out of Moonlight Corona, lived up to his pre-trial hype, as he responded with a scintillating 1 ¾ length victory while recording the second fastest qualifying time. He entered the trials after recording one of most visually impressive wins of the year at Los Alamitos when breaking his maiden by 2 ¼ lengths at 300 yards. In his 350-yard Ed Burke trial, Norco broke like a flash and was a total professional from there to improve his record to a perfect two for two. The Allred-bred is a full-brother to Grade 1 winner Circle City and Grade 2 winner Nomadic. Gabriel Lara piloted Norco for trainer Scott Willoughby.

          “He’s a great horse, an amazing horse and just keeps getting better all the time,” Willoughby said. “He’s such a smart horse and does everything correctly. Gabriel has done a great job riding him. For a young man who is just starting out – last year was his first year – he’s doing a fantastic horse.”

          And when it comes to Norco’s disposition around the barn, it sounds like it’s Valentine’s Day for him every day of the year.

          “He’s just a big lover,” Willoughby said. “He likes to be loved on.” 

 

          Armando Salazar’s Devils Tower (photo) posted the third fastest time after winning the third trial by a length with Oscar Peinado up for trainer Juan Aleman. The colt by Favorite Cartel is out of the multiple producer of Grade 1 winners Babe On The Fly. She’s the dam of Golden State Million Futurity winner Little Talks and All American Gold Cup winner Rock You. Bred by Steve Burns and purchased for $115,000 at the Los Alamitos Equine Sale, Devils Tower has now won each of his last two starts after running a tough sixth in his debut on April 29.

          “This is actually his second start because his first start didn’t count for me,” Aleman said. “He lost his footing, a horse came in, you know I kind of scratch that race. I really didn’t want to run him again, but I had. You can’t go into the trials with that kind of start. In his second start, that’s why I only ran him at 220, I just wanted to get him out and then from there he showed what he had shown in the mornings.”

          Nellesen, who won last year’s Ed Burke Million with Political Rivarly and before that with KVN Corona, will now have two KVN Coronas in this year’s Ed Burke final in My Budd and Jess Send Kevin. Trained by Heath Taylor and ridden by Rodrigo Sigala Vallejo, My Budd won his trial by a length while picking up his second victory in three starts. He came into the trials after running second in the Kindergarten. Bred in Utah by McColee Land & Livestock, My Budd is out of Budder Think Twice and is a full brother to Think Again Kev, who ran third in last year’s Kindergarten before qualifying to both the Golden State Million Futurity and Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity.

          Jess Send Kevin won the opening trial by a neck to avenge his trouble third place finish in his debut. Bred in Utah by Turner Farms, Jess Send Kevin is out of Jess Send Me and is a half-brother to Jess Macho Corona, who ran second in both the Grade 1 All American Derby and Grade 1 Vessels Maturity while earning over $672,061 in his career. Taylor and Sigala Vallejo also teamed up with Jess Send Kevin.

          Jose Flores, the leading trainer at Los Alamitos each of the past two years, will have two runners in the Ed Burke final in Big Hurt, who he owns in partnership with Javier Rodriguez, and Robs Reason, who Flores also owns in partnership with Layne Sprouse and Mark and Marta Winslow. Bred in Colorado by William Nolan, Big Hurt won the second trial in dominant fashion with Cruz Mendez up. The son of Tempting Dash out of Ima Fearless Fire posted a 1 ¼ length win.

          “He has a lot of talent this colt,” Flores said. “He’s doing everything right. I got a little bit worried because he was moving around in the gate, but he got it together and finished pretty strong for us. He’s going to keep developing. He’s also in the All American (Futurity trials) so we are hoping he’ll have a trip over there if he does well in the Ed Burke.”

          Big Hurt was purchased for $46,000 at the Heritage Place Sale last year.

          Robs Reason, who was acquired for $37,000 at the Heritage Place Sale, is a Louisiana-bred gelding by Good Reason SA and out of the stakes winner Veuve Clicquot. Bred by Cavenaugh Quarter Horses, Robs Reason came into his trial after winning his debut. He ran a strong second to top qualifier Up To Party with Mendez up.

          The sires with Ed Burke qualifiers are: Favorite Cartel with four and KVN Corona with two plus Kiddy Up, Tempting Dash, Good Reason SA and PYC Fun And Fancy with one qualifier each. The 10 Ed Burke qualifiers have combined to win 16 of their 24 career starts. Up To Party, Norco, Laredeaux and Big Hurt are all undefeated with an identical two-for-two records, while Ultimate Battle will be the only maiden in the Ed Burke field. 

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