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Turbulent Times Fastest in Golden State Trials

Five Bar Cartel stays alive for Los Alamitos Cash Bonanza.

October 21, 2013

San Gregorio Racing Stables’ Five Bar Cartel remains eligible to win the $1 million Los Alamitos Cash Bonanza after posting the third-fastest qualifying time to the $1,044,700 Golden State Million Futurity (G1) following Sunday’s trials at the Orange County track.

Ed Burke Million Futurity (G1) finalists Turbulent Times and Fire Up Willie, both trained by Jose De La Torre, posted the first- and second-fastest qualifying times to the Golden State Million following their respective trial victories. De La Torre will have a total of five horses in the Golden State final after also qualifying a trio of Corona Cartel runners in the form of Highest Fire, A Corona Sunset and Mr Corona Cartel. All six of the aforementioned qualifiers won one of the 11 trials contested at 400 yards on Sunday. The Golden State Million final will be held on Sunday, November 3. The complete list of qualifiers is as follows; Turbulent Times (:19.586), Fire Up Willie (:19.628), Five Bar Cartel (:19.64), Highest Fire (:19.674), A Corona Sunset (:19.683), Jiffy James (:19.69), Bp Its My Policy (:19.699), Rock You (:19.706), Mr Corona Cartel (:19.708) and Solid Connections (:19.748).

Ridden by Saul Ramirez for trainer Danny Montes, Five Bar Cartel will be looking to win his second million-dollar futurity of the year following his successful qualifying effort in the 11th and final trial of the night. Bred by Esmeralda Flores, the colt by Corona Cartel won the Ed Burke Million Futurity earlier this year to become eligible to win the track’s version of the Triple Crown. Five Bar Cartel will win the $1 million bonus if he can also win the Golden State Million and then the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity (G1) on Sunday, December 15. No horse has won the Los Alamitos Cash Bonanza since the program’s inception in 1998.

Five Bar Cartel was bumped on both sides after leaving the gate from post number two, but he quickly recovered on the way to a 1 ¼ length victory in a time of :19.640. Out the Grade 1 stakes winning mare Five Bar Molly, Five Bar Cartel improved his record to a perfect four wins in as many starts. Turbulent Times, who finished fourth to Five Bar Cartel in the Ed Burke, covered the distance in the fastest time of :19.586.

“You get nervous, but we have a nice horse in Five Bar Cartel,” said owner Jorge Carmona of San Gregorio Racing Stables. “He was doing everything fine so we felt good coming into tonight’s trials. He’s on his A game right now. He needed this race because he had not raced since the Ed Burke (on June 23) and we feel that this race will help him a lot. He had a little bit of trouble out of the gate, but the horse did his job. I hope he can win the next one. That would be a great accomplishment. He’ll be facing a good field in the final. Turbulent Times is a nice horse and the entire field looks very evenly matched. It’ll be an even race, but I hope it goes our way on the night of the final.”

By the time that Five Bar Cartel stepped on the track for the final trial, his connections knew that the time to beat to qualify was :19.766. A few minutes later, Five Bar Cartel was in the final 10 after a confident and winning performance.

“The trials started with some slow times at the beginning, but then they started picking up and I started thinking that he would need to run in the 19.60s,” trainer Danny Montes said. “When it came to our trial, I knew that he could run in the :19.70s, but we still needed luck. Saul Ramirez is a money rider with a good clock in his head. He’s been in plenty million-dollar races so I felt good before the race. All I told him the walking ring was ‘good luck and you know what to do.’ The horse got bumped a little bit, but Saul asked him a little bit and the horse took off. He only asked him enough from there to win.”

San Gregorio Racing Stables will now look to win a second straight Golden State Million after winning last year’s running with world champion One Dashing Eagle in partnership with Gustavo and Jose De La Torre. Montes will be looking to saddle his first winner in this race, while Ramirez was the winning jockey in the 2011 Golden State Million with Double Bar S Ranch’s Igotyourtac. He’s also won million-dollar races at Los Alamitos with 2007 world champion Blues Girl Too

“This horse got a good break, but he did get bumped from both sides,” said the jockey. “It was a good thing that he left sharply because he was able to take off pretty quickly after getting bumped. He’s usually a little slow breaker, but he was quicker tonight.”

Racing for Jesus Avila and Jesus Cuevas, Turbulent Times finished as the fastest qualifier to a million-dollar futurity for the second time this season following a terrific 1 ¼-length victory in the sixth trial. Ridden by Eduardo Nicasio, who paired up with Jose De La Torre to win six trial races on the night, Turbulent Times covered the 400 yards in :19.586 while posting his third win in four starts this year. The colt by Furyofthewind had previously posted the fastest qualifying time to the $1,111,000 Ed Burke Million back on June 9 before taking on Five Bar Cartel in the final.

“Having the fastest time is nice, but the most important thing is to qualify to the final,” said co-owner Jesus Avila. “We are happy with his time, but as long as he is in the final we’re happy. We have a lot of confidence on this horse and we accept whatever the horse provides us.”

“I’m not surprised that he ran so well because he’s a good horse,” De La Torre said. “We took him to Ruidoso Downs after the Ed Burke and he was there for about two months. We were thinking of supplementing him to the All American Futurity trials. He had a pretty good first workout up there, but we gave him another work and we didn’t like how he came back from than effort. It seemed like the altitude hit him hard so we decided to bring him back home because he liked it here. We wanted him to be right for this race and it all worked out.”

Corner K Quarter Horses LLC bred the bay colt Turbulent Times.

Owned by Jose and Gustavo De La Torre, Fire Up Willie will also see action in her second million-dollar futurity of the season after posting the second-fastest qualifying time of :19.628. Bred by Ugo De La Torre, Fire Up Willie won impressively by 1 ¼ lengths while recording her second straight win and her third in six career starts. She was ninth in the Ed Burke Million.

“She’s shown that she has the ability to perform at a high level,” said her trainer. “She’s a Walk Thru Fire filly so you can’t ask for much better than that. Her mother (Willie Swings) ran in the Charger Bar Handicap and was a good performer at Los Alamitos. We claimed Willie Swings mother for $6,250 here a few years ago. Fire Up Willie will be tough in the final.”

Nicasio was thrilled to have qualified Fire Up Willie.

“She’s one of my favorites,” he said.

Nicasio will now have to decide which horse he’ll ride in the Golden State Million final after piloting five qualifiers on trial night.

“Turbulent Times has tremendous power and I was very impressed with his race,” Nicasio said. “It’ll be a tough choice, but a great choice to have.”

Alberto Valdes’ Highest Fire finished with the fourth-fastest time of :19.674 following his half-length victory over Paulo Otavio Freire MacEdo’s Solid Connections, a filly by Mr Jess Perry who finished with the 10th-fastest time of the night. Bred by Julianna Hawn Holt, Highest Fire was winning his second race in five starts.

“He ran a pretty good race in Ruidoso in his last out,” said De La Torre, referring to Highest Fire’s third place finish in a trial to the All American Futurity (G1). “Horses get a lot of air for when they come back after being at Ruidoso Downs. This horses has been learning the game and it’s looking like he’s got the hang of it.”

Highest Fire is out of champion Higher Fire, who won the Ed Burke Million and Golden State Million and then came within inches of winning the Los Alamitos Two Million to sweep the track’s Triple Crown.

“You can’t ask for better bloodlines than Corona Cartel and Higher Fire,” De La Torre added. “He’ll be tough in the final.”

“He ran an excellent race,” Nicasio said. “He was easy going tonight and he really relaxed in the gate. I was starting to get worried that maybe he wouldn’t break for me because he was so quiet in there. He’s usually a little bit more excited, but tonight he was perfectly quiet. When we broke with the other horses I knew that we were in great shape because I knew that he was going to be strong at 400 yards.”

Bred by John Andreini and trained by Paul Jones, Solid Connections was making only her second start of the season when she posted the 10th-fastest qualifying time. She had previously broken her maiden when debuting here 16 days ago. Solid Connections is out of Dinastia Toll Brz, making her a half-sister of champion FDD Dynasty.

The De La Torres and John R. Haagsma’s A Corona Sunset posted the fifth-fastest time of the night after scoring a hard-fought head victory over Rainbow Futurity (G1) finalist BP Its My Policy in the fifth trial. Covering the distance in :19.683, A Corona Sunset was winning for the second time in five starts.
“It’s unreal to qualify to the Golden State Million,” said Haagsma after enjoying his first ever Quarter Horse futurity qualifier. “I’ve raced a lot of Thoroughbreds, but Jose talked me into becoming partners on this horse. I also bought a piece of a yearling that they repurchased out of the Los Alamitos Equine Sale. I now have 12 Thoroughbred and two Quarter Horses.

“I’ve raced horses since around 1993,” he added. “I have a hay business in Ontario and I deliver to a lot of the guys here. My dad, John D. Haagsma, has been involved in racing for a long time. He used to gallop horses for Farrell Jones before he got too big to ride. My grandfather had horses as well. I’m new to the game of Quarter Horse racing, but I’m learning more and more. I was partners on a Thoroughbred named Barbecue Eddie, who we took to Dubai to run fourth (in the Group 1 Gulf News Dubai Golden Shaheen). We did well with him and eventually sold him to (Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum).”

Haagsma noted that A Corona Sunset started off slow, but has improved greatly in his last three starts after being gelded.

Bill Price’s BP Its My Policy ran in the $1 million Rainbow Futurity at Ruidoso Downs earlier this season. Still a maiden in five starts following her runner-up effort in the Golden State Million trials, the filly by First Down Dash finished with the seventh-fastest qualifying time of :19.699 for trainer Trey Wood and jockey Ricky Ramirez.

“She did everything right and just got outrun,” Wood said. “We gave her some time off after the Rainbow because she was dealing with soft tissue problems. Her shins were bothering her. She was paid to the All American, but we skipped it because we didn’t think she was ready to go 440 yards. She’s a small filly, and at least for this year her best distance is 400 yards. She needed this race and I thought she ran a perfect race tonight.”

Wood conditions a total of two horses for owner Bill Price. In addition to BP Its My Policy, the young trainer also conditions All American Futurity finalist Fatal Policy. The trainer also credited his assistant trainer Paul Leal for preparing horses like BP Its My Policy for competition in Southern California.

“I couldn’t ask for a better assistant,” Wood said. “He’s like family to us and we’re like family to him. He likes being in California and he always does a great job with our horses. I couldn’t get much better help than Paul.”

Stanley Watkins’ Jiffy James posted the sixth-fastest qualifying time of :19.690 following a game duel with fellow qualifier Rock You, who is owned by Reliance Ranches LLC. Ridden by Cesar De Alba for trainer Charles Treece, Jiffy James came into this race after running fifth in the $435,000 PCQHRA Breeders’ Futurity (G2).

“He’s a good horse racing for a great owner,” Treece said. “Stanley and his wife, Pam, live in Strathmore near Fresno, California. They have a ranch up there where they keep their broodmares. They’re very hands on with their horses and they do a great job taking care of their horses. It’s hard for them to get away, but I’m sure Pam will invite a lot of friends and they’ll be here for this $1 million dollar final. Stanley was tickled to death after qualifying to the PCQHRA Breeders’ Futurity so I can only imagine how happy he must be right now.

“I wasn’t even going to run Jiffy James in these trials,” Treece admitted. “But I got together with my assistants in the barn and they said ‘let’s run him.’ Cesar De Alba told me that the horse was doing great on the track and my assistant trainer Julian Morfin and his brother, Sergio, both said that the horses was doing well. I have to listen to the people that do the work and they were right on.”

Bred by Phil Chess in New Mexico, Jiffy James is a gelding by Jesse James Jr out of the Heza Fast Man mare Ms Klee. Jiffy James has now won three of seven career starts.

After winning big money races in Oklahoma and New Mexico, Reliance Ranches LLC could win a million dollar race in California with the Steve Burns-bred gelding Rock You. Sired by Foose and out of the solid producer Babe On The Fly, Rock You just missed winning the 10th trial. He still finished with the eighth-fastest qualifying time of :19.706. Eddie Willis saddled Rock You, who was ridden by Jimmy Dean Brooks. A leading contender for Champion Owner, Reliance Ranches is tops in the nation in money earned with $1,710,723. The racing operation won the $2.8 million All American Derby (G1) with Feature Hero and the $720,000 Remington Park Oklahoma Bred Futurity (R) with Coronado Cartel.

Racing for the De La Torres and San Gregorio Racing Stables, Mr Corona Cartel won his trial by a half-length in the ninth-fastest qualifying time of :19.708. With Nicasio in the irons, the Corona Cartel gelding was the only qualifier to win by leading from wire to wire on the night.

“This was his second race since we gelded him,” Jose De La Torre said. “That’s made a great difference with this horse. He qualified with some great times earlier this year. He had a time of :11.90 (on May 25) so he’s always had talent. It’s great to have a jockey like Eduardo Nicasio as well. He’s at the top of his game. He gallops our horses every day and he knows exactly what to do with each horse.”

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Corona Cartel sired the qualifiers Five Bar Cartel, Highest Fire, A Corona Sunset and Mr Corona Cartel. Furyofthewind sired fastest qualifier Turbulent Times; Walk Thru Fire sired Fire Up Willie; Jesse James Jr sired Jiffy James; First Down Dash is the sire of BP Its My Policy; Foose sired Rock You; and Mr Jess Perry sired Solid Connections.

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The following horses qualified to the $30,000 Golden State Juvenile Stakes (R): Mesa Moonlight (:19.766), Spirit Leader (:19.773), One Slick Cartel (:19.799), Stroller (:19.780), Dimes And Nicks (:19.809), Chollima (:19.821), Nefertity (:19.821), Trust Me (:19.836), Mistic Rose (:19.869) and Joe The Jet Perry (:19.884).