08/22/2001 12:00AM

Bassett, Gilbreath take aim at All Americans


Trainers John Bassett and Dwayne "Sleepy" Gilbreath dominated the trials to the Grade 1 $2.1 million All American Futurity and the Grade 1 $200,000 All American Derby last week at Ruidoso Downs, N.M. They each qualified three horses to the futurity and two horses to the derby.

The finals for each 440-yard race will be on Labor Day, Sept. 3, closing day of the Ruidoso Downs summer season. The 10 fastest horses from the time trials qualified for their respective finals.

On Thursday, Bassett won seven of the 17 futurity trials and placed Tres Seis, Ausual Suspect, and Doc Colby in the finals. On Friday, Bassett saddled the top two qualifiers for the All American Derby, Pay the Bank and Whosleavingwho.

"I won five one day at Globe on the [Arizona] fair circuit and thought that was as good as it gets. I can't believe I won seven," said Bassett, who won the 1999 All American Futurity with A Delightful Dasher.

Gilbreath, a two-time All American Futurity winner, won the first three trials with qualifiers Spittin and Splittin, Phenomenal Fantasy, and Almost Flyin. He qualified Picabo Tass and Feature Mr Jess for the All American Derby.

The weather in the southern New Mexico mountains impacted the futurity trials.

There was heavy rain the day before the futurity trials and the times slowed over the seven hours of trials, run on a track listed as sloppy. There were no qualifiers after the ninth trial.

The four All American Derby trials started with fair weather and a good track, and ended with inclement weather, a 20-mph headwind, and a track listed as sloppy.

There was rain for the third derby trial and that rain turned into a downpour with pea-sized hail before the fourth trial, which was delayed for about 30 minutes while the storm passed. West Texas Futurity winner Stoli won the third trial and qualified with the 10th-fastest time (22.087 seconds) and Rainbow Derby winner Feature Mr Jess won the fourth trial and qualified with the eighth-fastest time (22.058 seconds).

The game performances of Feature Mr Jess and Stoli under adverse conditions could earn them the favorites' roles for the finals.

The changing conditions at Ruidoso Downs contribute to what is called "Ruidoso roulette," a game that the participants understand and accept when they run for the rich futurity and derby purses.

There were seven futurity supplemental nominees - at a cost of $50,000 each - and none of them qualified for finals. Last year, one of 11 supplemental nominees qualified for the finals. In 1995, the top three All American Futurity finishers were supplemental nominees. Again, Ruidoso roulette.

Bridlewood vs. Secret Card

Fastest qualifier Bridlewood meets champion Secret Card in the Grade 2, $95,000 California Sire's Cup Derby for Cal-breds on Friday night at Los Alamitos.

Bridlewood, owned by Terry Horton with D. Wayne and Laura Lukas, won the second of two trials with the top qualifying time of 19.975 seconds for the 400 yards. He has a win in the Grade 3 California Breeders Sophomore Stakes and a third in the Grade 1 Golden State Derby this summer.

Secret Card, the 2000 champion 2-year-old filly, won the first trial with the second-fastest qualifying time (20.095). The winner of the Grade 1 Kindergarten last year, Secret Card is after her first 2001 stakes win.

Futurity and derby time at Arapahoe

Rocky Mountain Derby winner Take a Third Glance heads the Grade 2, $50,000 Mile High Derby, and Cherry Creek Futurity winner Bac By Design tops the Grade 2, $100,000 Mile High Futurity at Arapahoe Park near Denver.

The derby is on Saturday and the futurity will be held on Sunday.