04/18/2007 12:00AM

Familiar rivals in two Los Alamitos stakes


There will be a sense of deja vu when trainers Dan Francisco and Paul Jones run Quarter Horses in the two Grade 3 stakes at Los Alamitos this weekend, Friday's $50,000 Miss Princess Handicap and Saturday's $25,000 Kaweah Bar Handicap.

In the Miss Princess for fillies and mares, Francisco saddles Romanticist while Jones sends out Strength in Numbers. Romanticist and Strength in Numbers have faced each other in their latest two starts and drew side-by-side in posts 4 and 5 for the Miss Princess.

Romanticist defeated Strength in Numbers by a nose in the Florentine Handicap in their most recent start. Two starts ago, Strength in Numbers got the nod over Romanticist by a neck in the Cash for Kas Handicap. Each of those races was at the Miss Princess distance of 350 yards.

In the 350-yard Kaweah Bar, Francisco runs 2004 world champion Be a Bono and Jones is represented by the quick Dutch Shultz. In the 350-yard Katella Handicap, each gelding's latest race, Dutch Shultz got the jump on Be a Bono and maintained his advantage with a three-quarter length win.

Be a Bono, who has earned $1.3 million, excels at longer distances with his late-charging style. He made a stunning late run to just miss winning the Grade 1, $600,000 Champion of Champions over 440 yards by a nose in December.

Heartswideopen clear choice

If a valid odds-on favorite in an early-season futurity exists, then it is Heartswideopen in the Grade 1, $266,029 West Texas Futurity on Sunday at Sunland Park.

Heartswideopen was brilliant in each of her two starts. She won her maiden in her 300-yard career debut in 15.218 seconds, the fastest time by a 2-year-old this year at Sunland Park at the time. She then bettered that time when she set the fastest-qualifying mark of 15.126 seconds in the West Texas trials.

Heartswideopen has the breeding of a precocious futurity winner. Her dam, Dashing Phoebe, was a two-time champion who won two Grade 1 stakes before July of her 2-year-old season.

Helens First Choice was 1 1/4 lengths behind Heartswideopen in their trial and has the second fastest time of 15.301 seconds. She also has futurity-winning breeding as a sister to 1998 champion 2-year-old First Sovereign and 1991 champion 2-year-old colt Royal Quick Dash. First Sovereign won the Ed Burke Futurity and Royal Quick Dash won the All American Futurity.

Stoli fillies lead Remington Futurity

Oh Cherokee Rose and XO Kate, two fillies sired by Stoli, each won her maiden in stakes trials and hold the top two qualifying times to the Grade 1, $546,000 Remington Park Futurity on Sunday night.

Oh Cherokee Rose raced the 350 yards in 17.929 seconds to lead the qualifiers from 10 trials. She was eighth in her career debut before winning her trial.

XO Kate came off a second in her career debut to win her trial in the second-fastest time of 17.930 seconds.

Third-fastest qualifier Miss Blue Chew and fourth-fastest qualifier Fast Prize Doll already have stakes credentials. Miss Blue Chew is undefeated from three starts, with a win in the Grade 2 Blue Ribbon Futurity. Fast Prize Doll was third in the Harrah's Entertainment Futurity.

First Carolina horse for course

First Carolina brings a 4 for 4 record at Remington Park into Sunday's Grade 1, $222,000 Remington Park Derby.

First Carolina narrowly won last year's Grade 1 Heritage Place Futurity and was then laid off for five months until a fifth-place effort in her Texas Classic Futurity trial at Lone Star Park. A daughter of 2006 champion broodmare First Prize Dash, First Carolina returned five months later in the Remington Park Derby trials. She won by 2o1/4 lengths in 19.676 seconds for 400 yards, the fastest time from four trials.

Trainer Russell Harris has three derby qualifiers, headed by Grade 1, $625,000 Rainbow Futurity winner Big Time Hero. He was second to First Carolina in their trial.