11/21/2007 1:00AM

Carters Cartel needs to run straight

EmailTwo-time Grade 1 futurity winner Carters Cartel tries to rebound after being disqualified in the Golden State Million when he starts in the trials to the Grade 1, $2 million Los Alamitos Two Million on Friday night at Los Alamitos.

The horses with the 10 fastest times from the trials become eligible to compete in the Los Alamitos Two Million on Dec. 14.

Carters Cartel was the 4-5 favorite in the Grade 1, $1,157,000 Golden State Million, but broke out at the start, bumped a rival, and finished sixth. He was disqualified and placed last of 10.

"He lost his hind end when he left the gate," trainer Jaime Gomez said. "He went sideways and after that it was all over for us. Maybe he moved his head at the last millisecond before they opened the gate and that's what caused him to break to the side."

That has been the only stakes blemish in a season that could lead to year-end championship honors. He won the Grade 1 Kindergarten and then moved to the top of the juvenile colt division with a track-record win in the Grade 1 Ed Burke Million.

Eye for Corona returns after winning the Golden State Million at nearly 20-1 odds, holding off Fighter on Fire by a nose. She was overlooked in the wagering even though she was second to Carters Cartel in the Ed Burke Million.

Champion of Champions berth on line

The final berth in the Grade 1, $1 million Champion of Champions will be determined from deep fields in the two Z. Wayne Griffin Director's Stakes trials at Los Alamitos on Saturday night.

The horse with the fastest time from the trials earns eligibility to run in the 440-yard Champion of Champions on Dec. 15. The Director's is a stakes race and also serves to fill any remaining open berths in the Champion of Champions. In every other year, there were multiple berths available, but not this year when only one horse will advance to the Champion of Champions, which has had more world champion winners than any Quarter Horse stakes.

Top prospects for that spot are champion Apollitical Time, Rainbow Derby winner Separate Bet, All American Futurity winner No Secrets Here, and 2004 world champion Be a Bono.

Apollitical Time, the 2006 champion aged horse, is after her first win in a year. She won her Director's trial last year and then finished fourth to world champion Wave Carver in the Champion of Champions as the 2-1 favorite. Her best effort from five starts this year was a second to Champion of Champions invitee Blues Girl Too in the Grade 1 Mildred Vessels.

Separate Bet set the Ruidoso Downs' 400-yard track record of 19.18 seconds in his 2007 debut and then won the Grade 1 Rainbow Derby by nearly three lengths at 8-5 odds.

No Secrets Here is trying to take the same path to a Champion of Champions victory as Wave Carver last year. Wave Carver was upset in the Los Alamitos Super Derby, but came back to win his Director's trial and the Champion of Champions. No Secrets Here closed with a rush in the Los Alamitos Super Derby, but came up a nose short and settled for second. He has earned more than $1.5 million, including the $1 million from winning the 2006 All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs.

Be a Bono is coming back after stem-cell surgery this summer and trying for his third Champion of Champions appearance in four years. In 2006, he nearly raced to his first Champion of Champions win, but came up a nose short to Wave Carver.

Cronus tops Black Gold Casino

Cronus, Grade 1-placed on the straightaway, heads the Grade 2, $60,000 Black Gold Casino Stakes over 870 yards on Sunday afternoon at Zia Park. Cronus finished second in his 870-yard debut last summer at Ruidoso Downs, but has 2 wins in 2 starts around the turn at Zia Park this fall. He comes off an easy two-length win in the Herman Jefferson Stakes.

Vals Warrior seeks richest win

Fastest-qualifier Vals Warrior tries for the richest win of his promising career in the $510,000 Louisiana Quarter Horse Breeders Association Futurity at Evangeline Downs on Sunday night.

Vals Warrior raced to his second straight win and third victory from eight starts while winning his trial by 1 1/4 lengths in 20.261 seconds for 400 yards.

The big surprise from the 17 trials was second-fastest qualifier Mon Ti Rose. She won her trial at 52-1 odds after a sixth and a ninth in her two previous starts.