03/02/2005 12:00AM

'Cowboys' in trial for West Texas


Cowboys N Injuns, the Sunland Fall Futurity winner, and Tell Em Im Gone, who is twice Grade 1 futurity-placed, head the four trials to the Grade 2 West Texas Derby at Sunland Park on Friday afternoon.

The 10 fastest qualifiers from the 400-yard trials are eligible for the West Texas Derby, the year's first open derby in New Mexico, on March 19.

The lightly raced Cowboys N Injuns, supplemented to the trials for $3,000, has had three races spaced out by trainer Salvador Soto and has responded with two victories, including the Grade 2 Sunland Fall Futurity on Dec. 18, his most recent start. In the Fall Futurity he showed his speed by earning a very fast 19.23-second time for the 400 yards, and his determination by getting a nose win over Si Puede.

Cowboys N Injuns has post position 8 in the second trial.

Tell Em Im Gone has won 4 of 6 career starts., with his only setbacks a second-place finish in the Grade 1 Ruidoso Futurity and a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Million behind Ocean Runaway, 2004's champion 2-year-old colt, and Hardly Hateful, champion 2-year-old filly. He has post 7 in the fourth trial.

Win Mir, who starts next to Cowboys N Injuns, will be trying open competition for the first time after winning five races, including the Shue Fly Stakes and the Ruidoso Sale Futurity, against New Mexico-bred competition.

Late bloomers in Maiden Stakes

Fastest-qualifier LDS Dash for Dylan heads a field of late-developing 3-year-olds in the $123,500 Maiden Stakes at Los Alamitos on Saturday night.

The conditions for the 350-yard Maiden Stakes restrict trial entries to horses who were maidens as of Dec. 1, 2004. LDS Dash for Dylan fit those conditions, but won a maiden race on Jan. 20 at Los Alamitos in his fourth career start. Then he showed potential by winning his Maiden Stakes trial in 17.53 seconds for 350 yards, the fastest qualifying time.

"This was a gangly colt, so we gave him time to mature," trainer Brett Vickery said.

Owner Dr. Ed Allred and trainer Kelly Lewis will have the solid entry of Combative and Chickafirst. Combative, winner of 2 of 4 career starts, won his maiden on Dec. 4 and picked up his second career victory with a Maiden Stakes trial win. The well-bred Chickafirst won her maiden on Jan. 16 and finished third in her Maiden Stakes trial behind LDS Dash for Dylan.

Seek N Destroy on long road back to Challenge

Seek N Destroy, third in the Distance Challenge Championship, will try to take the first step to returning to that Grade 1 stakes when he starts in the 870-yard trials to the MD Barns New Mexico Distance Challenge on Saturday afternoon at Sunland Park.

The eight quickest qualifiers from the trials qualify for the $55,000 finals on March 20. The winner of the finals becomes eligible for the Grade 1, $100,000 MD Barns Distance Challenge Championship on Nov. 5 at Los Alamitos.

Seek N Destroy will be making his first start since he finished third in the Distance Challenge Championship on Nov. 6 at Sam Houston Race Park. He endured a three-wide trip on the one-mile track at Sam Houston and made a mild bid in the stretch. On Saturday, he should get a shorter trip from post 2 in the second of two trials.