09/19/2006 11:00PM

Apollitical Time vs. Higher Fire in Vessels


Apollitical Time, the 2006 champion 3-year-old filly, comes off a near track-record effort to meet 2005 champion 2-year-old Higher Fire in the Grade 1, $250,000 Mildred N. Vessels Memorial Handicap for fillies and mares at 400 yards on Friday night at Los Alamitos.

Apollitical Time carries high weight of 126 pounds after winning the MBNA America California Challenge Championship in 21.18 seconds for 440 yards, just 0.01 second off the track record set by Dash for Cash in the 1976 Champion of Champions.

Apollitical Time does not have an invitation to the Grade 1, $600,000 Champion of Champions, and her connections passed on the Go Man Go Handicap - a race that offers a Champion of Champions invitation - to run in the Mildred Vessels.

"We decided to run her against her own sex," said trainer Juan Alleman. "We still have the Los Alamitos Invitational Championship to run her in to get into the Champion of Champions."

Apollitical Time was third in the 2005 Champion of Champions.

Higher Fire, winless from three 2006 starts, earned her 2005 championship with Grade 1 wins in the Ed Burke Million and Golden State Million. She was second in the Los Alamitos Million and third in the Kindergarten, both Grade 1 futurities.

In her three starts this year she has encountered trouble, but she showed her strong closing kick in her most recent start, when she was second in an allowance race. Two starts ago she was third in the Jens List California Breeders Derby behind Fishers Tale, who came back last Sunday night to win a Los Alamitos allowance race over 2005 Los Alamitos Million winner Value the Man.

It is also a trials weekend at Los Alamitos, with trials to the PCQHRA Breeders Derby on Friday night and to the PCQHRA Breeders Futurity on Saturday night.

The three derby trials attracted Love My Corona, runner-up in the Grade 1 La Primera Del Ano Derby; Revivalist, runner-up in the Jens List California Breeders Derby; and Redwood Creek, fourth in the Gradeo1 Golden State Derby.

The futurity trials feature the two Jaime Gomez-trained juveniles who finished in a dead heat for the win in the Grade 1 Governor's Cup Futurity, Tac It Like a Man and Checknbac. Tac It Like a Man was favored in the Governor's Cup Futurity after being the fastest qualifier and finishing fourth in the Ed Burke Million. Checknbac has a four-race winning streak.

Planet Holland heads Zia opener

World-record holder Planet Holland makes his first start since his record-setting run in the $60,000 James Isaac Hobbs Stakes during Saturday's opening-day program at Zia Park.

Planet Holland turned in his record 17.006-second time for the Hobbs distance of 350 yards when he won the Higheasterjet Handicap at Ruidoso Downs on July 1. The Higheasterjet is his only 2006 start; he concluded his 2005 campaign with a win in the Zia Park Championship and a second in the Grade 1 The Championship at Sunland Park.

Trainer Carl Draper sends out the pair of Desirio and Look for Wranglers to challenge Planet Holland. Desirio has been laid off for a year since winning last year's Hobbs Stakes. The 3-year-old Look for Wranglers runs against older horses for the first time after seconds in the West Texas Derby and the Bayer Legend New Mexico Derby Challenge.