03/18/2008 11:00PM

Fighter on Fire looks to rebound


Golden State Million runner-up Fighter on Fire tries to rebound from a troubled start in the Los Alamitos Winter Derby when he heads two trials to the Grade 1, $185,300 El Primero del Ano Derby on Friday night at Los Alamitos.

The top 10 qualifiers to the stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings qualify for the finals on April 11.

Fighter on Fire was the 3-2 favorite in the Grade 1 Winter Derby, but threw his head at the start and then lugged in to finish seventh. He was favored on the strength of two close second-place finishes: He was beaten by only a nose in the Golden State Million after lugging in, and was the runner-up in his Winter Derby trial after a troubled trip.

In Saturday's trials to the Grade 1, $225,000 La Primera del Ano Derby for fillies, My Lady First returns after running a troubled third in the Winter Derby. She was also fourth in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity.

Trainer Paul Jones sends out Answer the Dream and Wicked Royal Cartel, who finished fourth and fifth in the Winter Derby.

The fillies with the 10 fastest times are eligible to race in the finals on April 12.

Remington: Pair of Grade 2 stakes

Trainer Rodney Reed has the two fastest qualifiers to the Grade 2, $254,000 Oklahoma Futurity and trainer Luis Villafranco has four finalists, including fastest qualifier Duck Mea Running, in the Grade 2, $89,000 Oklahoma Derby on Saturday night at Remington Park.

Reed's two futurity runners, Wanna Fly Jessie and Fly Jess Who, each made promising career debuts in the 10 Oklahoma Futurity trials. Wanna Fly Jessie won by 1 3/4 lengths with the fastest time of 15.679 seconds for 300 yards. Fly Jess Who raced to a 15.749-second time while winning by three-quarters of a length.

Villafranco's derby foursome is headed by fastest qualifier Duck Mea Running and Grade 1 winner Miss Blue Chew.

Duck Mea Running has finished in the top two in each of her seven starts, topped by a win in the Grade 3 Oklahoma Juvenile Challenge. She won her 350-yard trial in 17.860 seconds.

Miss Blue Chew won her first five starts, including three stakes, but is winless in five subsequent starts. A year ago, she won the Grade 1 Remington Park Futurity and the Easy Jet Stakes at Remington.

Sunland: Gun Battle, Gotta Get clash

Gotta Get and 2006 All American Futurity runner-up Gun Battle, two of the premier New Mexico-breds of recent years, meet for the first time in the Grade 1, $100,000 Mesilla Valley Speed Handicap on Saturday at Sunland Park.

Gotta Get was the 2006 champion aged gelding after an undefeated year and won five stakes last season. He lacked a kick in his most recent start when he was sixth as the favorite in his West Texas Maturity trial.

Gun Battle returned from a six-month layoff to finish a close second in an optional claiming race on March 1 at Sunland. Before his layoff he was second in the Grade 3 Hard Twist Stakes at The Downs at Albuquerque.

Be a Bono retired

Be a Bono, the 2004 world champion owned by Spencer Childer, has been retired after winning 14 of 26 starts and $1,313,348.

"He went out a winner and that's how he deserved to go out," said trainer Dan Francisco. "His little aches and pains were making it harder to return after each race. Spencer left it up to me when he would retire."

The 7-year-old Be a Bono underwent groundbreaking surgery in November 2005, when stems cells from his own fat were used to regenerate damaged bone and cartilage in a knee. The next year, he made a furious closing charge to finish second by a nose behind 2006 world champion Wave Carver in the Gradeo1 Champion of Champions. If Be a Bono had won the Champion of Champions instead of Wave Carver, there is a good chance Be a Bono would be retiring as a two-time world champion.