06/20/2007 11:00PM

Carters Cartel gets toughest test

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Carters Cartel's four-race unbeaten streak might not last through Saturday.

This spring, Carters Cartel has become the leading 2-year-old Quarter Horse at Los Alamitos, a position that will be tested in Saturday's $1,130,000 Ed Burke Million Futurity over 350 yards.

Carters Cartel won the Kindergarten Futurity at Los Alamitos on May 19, the year's first futurity, and set the fastest qualifying time for Saturday's Ed Burke in the time trials on June 9.

To trainer Jaime Gomez, the 350-yard Ed Burke is by far the toughest race in Carters Cartel's career.

"Those trials were super tough," he said. "It was one of the toughest trials I've ever seen. I saw about 20 really good horses."

Carters Cartel was timed in 17.42 seconds in the trials. Ridden by Alejandro Luna, Carters Cartel won his division by 1 3/4 lengths, the widest winning margin for any of the 14 trial winners.

"He hasn't made too many mistakes," Gomez said.

Owned by Double Bar S Ranch, Carters Cartel breaks from post 5 in the Ed Burke. The competition includes Miss Kittys Bar Bet, Shez Snow Quick, and Freaky - who were third, fourth, and sixth in the Kindergarten - and the undefeated Kiddy Up and Wicked Royal Cartel.

"I like the 5 hole," Gomez said. "I don't like the 10 hole in a futurity because sometimes they break out. I love the middle. I think if he can run 17.40 or 17.41, I think we can win."

Cartels Cartel is one of five qualifiers sired by top stallion Corona Cartel. In addition, five of the qualifiers are fillies, including second-fastest qualifier Miss Kittys Bar Bet (17.45) and Wicked Royal Cartel (17.54).

The winners of eight divisions of the trials and two second-place finishers earned berths in the Ed Burke final.

Wicked Royal Cartel set the third-fastest qualifying time while winning the third division by a length. Trained by Paul Jones for owner Abigal Kawananakoa, Wicked Royal Cartel has won three starts, including a maiden race in April and a division of the Kindergarten trials on May 5. She missed qualifying for the Kindergarten final by .02 second.

Kiddy Up is primarily owned by Los Alamitos owner Ed Allred, with a 1 percent share held by Los Angeles Times sports columnist T.J. Simers. Allred has pledged the first $50,000 of Kiddy Up's career earnings to Simers's favorite charity, the Mattel Children's Hospital of UCLA.

First-place in the Ed Burke is worth $457,800, while a last-place finish is worth $21,800.