06/01/2005 12:00AM

Be a Bono need not run best to qualify


Defending world champion Be a Bono makes his first appearance since December in the trials to the Grade 1, $134,000 Vessels Maturity at Los Alamitos on Friday night.

The horses with the 10 fastest times from two trials qualify for the 400-yard finals on June 24. But since there are only 12 horses total, only the horses with the two slowest times will not qualify for the Vessels Maturity.

Be a Bono has won 8 of 10 career starts, with trainer Dan Francisco and owner Spencer Childers spacing the 4-year-old gelding's races. He won the Grade 1 Spencer Childers Handicap - named after his 93-year-old owner - last June after a four-month layoff and then rested for another four months before returning last fall to win the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Derby and finishing a nose behind Cash for Kas in the Grade 1 Champion of Champions.

Sky Lane Pie, winner of the 2004 California Challenge Championship, is among those who will face Be a Bono in the second trial.

Higher Fire in Ed Burke trials

Higher Fire, third in the Grade 1 Kindergarten, returns in the trials to the Grade 1, $1 million Ed Burke Million on Saturday night at Los Alamitos.

The Ed Burke Million, the first of three $1 million futurities this year at Los Alamitos, is on June 25. The others are the Golden State Million on Nov. 4 and Los Alamitos Million on Dec. 9. The connections of a horse who can win the three futurities earn a $1 million bonus.

Higher Fire was beaten by a pair of noses in the Kindergarten. He came into the Kindergarten unbeaten in two starts, including a win over Kindergarten runner-up Love My Corona.

Also in the Ed Burke trials are the Kindergarten fastest qualifier, Two Corona Special, and Identify Theft, sixth in the Grade 1 West Texas Futurity.

Challenge stakes at Remington

America Challenge Championship winner SLM Snowman will try to gain a berth in the 2005 edition of that Grade 1 stakes when he starts in the $98,910 MBNA America Oklahoma Challenge Championship at Remington Park on Saturday night.

SLM Snowman won the 2004 Central Challenge and was a romping 1 3/4-length winner of the Grade 1, $350,000 MBNA America Challenge Championship at Sam Houston Race Park on Nov. 6. He then was eighth in the Champion of Champions and third in The Championship at Sunland Park. He qualified for the Oklahoma Challenge by finishing second to Frostys Money Man, a three-time derby winner in 2003.

Country Chicks Man topped the qualifiers with a 21.420-second victory in his 440-yard trial, winning by a nose over Special Task Force, who took last year's Oklahoma Challenge Championship.

Also on the card at Remington, fastest qualifier Intentionaldeception faces a competitive cast in the Grade 3, $30,690 John Deere Oklahoma Challenge for fillies and mares, and Shawns Quick Dash tries to establish himself as an 870-yard stakes competitor in the $28,260 MD Barns Oklahoma Distance Challenge.

Intentionaldeception posted her second straight win when she won her trial by a half-length in 19.846 seconds, the fastest qualifying time.

Dash of Perry, second in the 2003 All American Futurity, was a close second in her trial after a layoff of almost nine months.

Shawns Quick Dash made his 870-yard debut in the MD Barns trials on May 20 and rolled to a 2 3/4-length win in 45.491 seconds, the fastest qualifying time.

The winners of each stakes earn a berth in their respective races during the MBNA America Challenge Championships on Nov. 5 at Los Alamitos.