09/03/2004 11:00PM

All American: $1.9 million on line

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Mighty Invictus was a source of frustration earlier this year for top Quarter Horse trainer Jack Brooks. Mighty Invictus qualified for the Remington Park Futurity in April and the Rainbow Futurity in July, but was unplaced in the finals, partly because of poor starts.

Monday, that may be forgotten when Mighty Invictus starts as a leading candidate in the $1.9 million at Ruidoso Downs.

In time trials for the All American Futurity on Aug. 19, Mighty Invictus ran the best race of his career, zipping 440 yards in 21.41 seconds, the fastest qualifying time from 21 trials.

"He always walked away from the gate and ran a big race if they left him a place to run," Brooks said. "If he leaves there with them, he can run a big race. In the trials, he got away better than he has."

Brooks is trying for a record ninth win in the All American Futurity. He has two qualifiers, including Take Off Jess, who was second in the West Texas Futurity at Sunland Park in April.

"These two horses have a pretty good shot," Brooks said.

Mighty Invictus won his trial by a neck over qualifier DM Shicago. Two qualifiers won time trials by three lengths - Separate Secrets (21.42 seconds) and Devons Signature (21.56).

In the final, Mighty Invictus breaks from the rail, while Separate Secrets, who may go favored, will start from the outside. Jacky Martin, who has teamed with Brooks to win seven All American futurities, has the mount on Mighty Invictus. Brooks and Martin last won the All American in 2000 with Eyesa Special.

Brooks chose the rail for Mighty Invictus earlier this week in a post position draw similar to the one held for the Kentucky Derby, when the connections choose the posts. Mighty Invictus started from the rail in the time trials.

"Here, the track is pretty equal," Brooks said. "In the trials, the inside was as good if not better than the other parts of the track."

Brooks has schooled Mighty Invictus in the starting gate since the trials.

Separate Secrets, a winner of 4 of 5 starts, has been bothered by an abscess in a foot since the trials. Trainer Jaime Gomez said the abscess popped last week and that the colt will be ready for Monday's race.

"I like my chances outside," Gomez said. "He's a big horse and he will be the last horse in the gate. He breaks straight all the time."