Los Alamitos Race Course, Cypress, CA - August 1, 2003 - Morning Snow, a two-time Grade 1 futurity winner last season, did not win her sophomore debut, but she still left a good impression after a runnerup effort in the second of three trials to the $200,000 Golden State Derby Friday at Los Alamitos.
Trained by Donna McArthur for Charles and Dixie Patterson, Morning Snow broke nicely from the outside post seven in her heat but the rustiness of more than eight months away from the track showed at the end of the 400-yard trials. With Sam Thompson aboard, Morning Snow went on to cross the wire a half-length behind the in-form Special Queen Sa, who finished the night as the fastest qualifier to the August 16 derby final. Special Queen Sa covered the distance in :19.81 with Morning Snow ended as the fifth fastest qualifier with a time of :19.87.
"I'm happy with the way Morning Snow ran," McArthur said. "The fact that she now has a race under her belt after being away since (November 29), will help her more than anything. The hard part is over and the long layoff is now behind her."
Special Queen Sa is no stranger to being the fastest qualifier to a major stakes race. Racing for Gianni Franco Samaja, Special Queen Sa also posted the top time to the PCQHRA Breeders Futurity. Unfortunately, she hit the inside rail and fell just a few steps out of the gate in the Breeders final. That is the past and the present looks promising for Special Queen Sa.
"We're happy to see her back to her top form," said Vincent Genco, who serves as agent for Brazilian-native Samaja in the United States. "She's won two races in a row and looked real good both time. She qualified to four graded futurities last year, including the Los Alamitos Million, so she ran many hard races. After the Million, (on December 13) we gave her time off and that really helped come back strong. We got a Streakin La Jolla embryo out of her but the vacation from racing helped her a great deal. She's filled up nicely and is doing things the way we like to see."
Despite being a regular in stakes races, Special Queen Sa will be going after her first big money win of her career. Alex Bautista piloted her in the trials for trainer Carlos Lopez.
Back to Morning Snow, the daughter of This Snow Is Royal had a 3/4-length advantage early on and appeared headed for her sixth win. Instead, Morning Snow had to settle for her second straight second place finish.
"I thought she did really well for this being her first start back," Thompson explained. "She picked her head up to the look at the crowd as she got closer to the grandstand and then she drifted in. I think that may have cost her the race." "You always want to win, but I was also hoping she would have a clean, safe race," McArthur added. "She had a nice race and I'm happy with that."
The complete list of qualifiers to the August 16 $200,000 Golden State Futurity is as follows; Special Queen Sa (:19.815), Mr Pie Chick (:19.835), Toll The Cash (:19.84), Azyoucansee (:19.845), Morning Snow (:19.87), A Special Sno Flo (:19.91), Doreme Fasolasi Win (:19.91), First Down Affair (:19.95), Night Lines (:19.97), and Ipomea (:19.975).
With Morning Snow leading the way, McArthur will send out a strong trio in the Golden State finale. The trainer, who won this race in 1999 with champion IBA Dasher, also conditions Mr Pie Chick and A Special Sno Flo.
Mr Pie Chick is the "shipper" of the bunch, as the son Pie In The Sky was making his California debut after racing in Louisiana and New Mexico during his freshman campaign. Mr Pie Chick appeared to love his new surroundings, as he broke alongside Azyoucansee before finishing strongly for a nose win in the first derby trial. With Thompson aboard, Mr Pie Chick posted the second fastest time of :19.835 while returning $18 for the win.
"I knew that he would be a longshot in this race because he had not raced here before," Thompson said. "I knew he was a good horse and I'm not surprised that he won this race."
While Mr Pie Chick was an unknown quantity, the name of his dam should have rang a bell to local observers. The bay gelding is the first foal out of Linda Te Chick, the winner of the 2000 California Distaff Challenge and runner-up in the 2001 $82,500 Centaur Distaff Challenge Championship. Oscar Rohne of Arlington, Texas, and Marcus Smith of Dallas, campaign Mr Pie Chick.
"Oscar lives very close to Louisiana and with this horse being a Louisiana-bred that's why he raced there. He was in a couple of futurities there, so he's proven to be an honest horse."
Azyoucansee, who was second in last year's Governor's Cup Futurity, held on for second. Dale Badon was third, but missed the final as he had the 11th fastest time.
Fakri Family's Toll The Cash is known as the "Little Rabbit" around trainer Carlos Lopez's barn. That is because the Takin On The Cash gelding is small and quick, just like his nickname indicates. Victor Di Mauro of Fakri Family has a couple of more adjectives to describe Toll The Cash, the winner of the third trial to the Golden State Derby, including flattering ones such as resilient and courageous. "And he has the biggest heart I know," Di Mauro said.
Runner-up in four of his last seven starts, Toll The Cash tasted victory for the first time since breaking his maiden in his debut 11 starts back. Since then, Toll The Cash has made the finals of the PCQHRA Breeders and Golden State futurities and even ran second in the Los Alamitos Million Consolation Stakes, but this win is as rewarding as they come according to Di Mauro.
"We needed this win and Toll The Cash really needed this win," he said. "He'll grow in confidence after this and we'll see what happens in the final." Outside his racing accomplishments, Toll The Cash is a special horse for the Fakri Family, one of Brazil's biggest Quarter Horse racing operations, for another reason.
"He's the first horse that we've bred born in the United States," Di Mauro said. "We have several Fishers Dash babies at the Vessels/Schvaneveldt Sale, but he's the one that kicked off our breeding operation in this country."
By the way, Lopez will saddle three sprinters in the Golden State final. Toll The Cash will be joined by fastest qualifier Special Queen Sa and Azyoucansee.
Joyce Erickson's A Special Sno Flo, winner of the Corona Chick Handicap last season, was second with the sixth fastest time. Doreme Fasolasi Win and Night Lines also qualified from this heat.
Vessels Stallion Farm LLC's First Down Affair will be making her stakes debut in the Golden State, while Ipomea will be going after her second derby win of the year. Racing for Ah Sigh Enterprises Inc, Ipomea was the 49-1 winner of the La Primera Del Ano Derby earlier this year.