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Deniro Tops Winter Derby Trials

Portland Meadows invader scores big in Los Alamitos debut.

January 29, 2012

On a day that featured sunny weather in the low 80s and not a cloud in the sky in beautiful Southern California, nothing was as picture perfect as the winning performance by Shane O’Leary’s Deniro in the fourth and final trial to the $197,700 Los Alamitos Winter Derby (G1).

Making his first start at the Orange County track after arriving via Portland Meadows, Deniro flew from the outside post eight and blew away the fastest qualifying time for the Winter Derby finale by covering the 400 yards in :19.518. His winning time was :17/100ths of a second faster than the next fastest qualifier, who happened to be trial runner-up Check My Thoughts. Deniro’s time was more than two lengths faster (36/100ths of a second) than the next fastest trial winner of the night, the talented Long Gone, who won the opening heat.

Trained by Ugo De La Torre and ridden by Adrian Loza, Deniro was picking up his third win in seven starts. He came into this race after finishing fourth in the Far West Futurity at Portland Meadows and four races back he was second in the Firecracker Futurity at Grants Pass. Bred by Gregory and Renee Hickman, the Desirio gelding’s previous victory was a trial to the Firecracker back in June 19.

“I’m extremely surprised with his victory,” De La Torre said. “This was his first time under the lights and even though I was hoping he would do well I wasn’t certainly not expecting him to do this well. This horse came to my barn thanks to my brothers Jose and Gustavo. They had done some business with Shane with some broodmares and that’s how that connection was made. Jose just got off the phone with Shane and he was telling me that he was thrilled. His family was all screaming with joy watching him win this race like if they had just won the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity. I’m happy for them. You run horses to enjoy moments like the one Deniro just gave Shane and his family.”

De La Torre admitted that he was little concerned with Deniro coming into the trials.

“This is the first horse he’s had with us and when I first saw Deniro I thought he was a big, good looking horse,” he added. “But his appetite was a little light and it took him a few days to come around. He just started getting his appetite back recently and he’s starting to feel a little more comfortable with his surroundings. I think he’s figured out that he’s no longer in the Northwest and that he’s at Los Alamitos.”

Owned and bred by Ed Allred and trained by Jimmy Glenn, multiple stakes winner Check My Thoughts came through with a solid trial effort in the fast final trial. Ridden by Eulices Gomez, Check My Thoughts broke a couple of steps behind Deniro, but he kept on task and never let another horse pass him by. This will be Check My Thoughts’ first Grade 1 final after a third Ed Burke Memorial Juvenile Stakes (R), first in the California Breeders Freshman Stakes (R) and first in the Golden State Juvenile Stakes (R). Deleyco Race Team’s Eye For FDD crossed the wire in third-place with a time of :19.806, which was also good enough to give him the third-fastest qualifying time for trainer Jose Flores.

LJM Ranch’s Long Gone continued his tremendous record in trial races, as he won his fifth trial in six attempts. His connections will now look for the son of TR Dasher to parlay this victory into his first ever stakes victory. Long Gone has been close before. He crossed the wire first in the Governor’s Cup Futurity (G2), but was disqualified for interference and place ninth and also ran second in the PCQHRA Breeders’ Futurity (G2) and fifth in the Golden State Million Futurity (G1). Rodrigo Aceves piloted the classy Allred-bred colt for trainer Felipe Quintero.

Mark and Mary Parsons’ charismatic Kobe broke poorly but recovered quickly to finish second to Long Gone. The colt by Mr Eye Opener won the Holiday Handicap in his last start and was losing for only the second time in five career starts. Kobe still qualified with the sixth-fastest time of the night of :19.885.

Don and Peggy Boyle’s BF Farm Girl had a bad start, but was flying like a rocket at the end to win her trial by a head over Jose and Gustavo De La Torre’s One Ramblin Lady. BF Farm Girl was sixth at the start, fourth with 180 yards to go and still trailed with 100 yards left in the race before catching her rival to win by a head. Trained by Paul Jones, who qualified Kobe, BF Farm Girl completed the distance in :19.893.

Sompin About First won the only other trial, but failed to qualify out of a race that featured a triple dead heat for fourth-place between Driving Miss Dazie, Sex On Fire and Zoomdasher.

The complete list of qualifiers is as follows: Deniro (:19.518), Check My Thoughts (:19.681), Eye For FDD (:19.806), Long Gone (:19.854), Testing The Ice (:19.875), Kobe (:19.885), BF Farm Girl (:19.893), One Ramblin Lady (:19.914), Flame N Flash (:19.917), and Flyin Rose (:19.936).