09/30/2010 12:35PM

First Down Illusion set for first part of rigorous stakes schedule

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First Down Illusion, who won the Ed Burke Million Futurity in June, is the only 2-year-old at Los Alamitos eligible for a $1 million bonus if he sweeps the track’s three leading futurities this year. He’s being asked to do a little more than that this fall.

Saturday, First Down Illusion starts in the final of the $426,000 Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Racing Association Futurity over 350 yards, just two weeks before the trials of the Golden State Million, the second race in the bonus series. The third race of the series, the Los Alamitos Two Million, is in December.

Trainer Adan Farias said First Down Illusion will start in the PCQHRA Futurity, and not scratch on race day, allowing owners David and Ross Hinkins to collect a portion of the purse just for qualifying from the Sept. 11 time trials.

“No one can guarantee us that First Down Illusion will qualify to the Golden State Million,” he said after the trials. “First Down Illusion has already made over $440,000, so whatever else he can make is a bonus. The owners want to win races, and make some money, and if we can win the triple crown in the process that’s just icing on the cake.”

First Down Illusion has won 2 of 7 starts and $447,775. The other nine runners in the PCQHRA Futurity have combined career earnings of $104,347.

In the time trials, First Down Illusion finished second by a neck to Filthy First, who was timed in 17.30 seconds and has the second-fastest qualifying time. First Down Illusion was clocked in 17.34, the third-fastest time.

The Goodbye Kisser is the fastest qualifier after winning the second of nine divisions of the time trials in 17.27 seconds, pulling clear by 1 3/4 lengths at the finish. Trained by Paul Jones for Marcelo Jorge, The Goodbye Kisser is one of three fillies in Saturday’s final.

The Goodbye Kisser has won 4 of 5 starts, including the California Juvenile Challenge on Aug. 27, earning a berth to the final at Fair Grounds in November. First, though, there is the lucrative PCQHRA Futurity.

“I’ve always thought that she was probably my best 2-year-old I’ve had here all year long,” Jones said after the trials. “She impressed me in her first morning workouts and she’s kept impressing me ever since. She’s just fast.”