05/25/2010 11:00PM

Francisco loaded for Claiming Futurity at Los Alamitos


Trainer Dan Francisco has five promising 2-year-olds in futurity trials at Los Alamitos on Friday evening. Whether he will still train that group on Saturday morning is unknown.

Francisco's juveniles are entered in divisions of the $50,000 Los Alamitos Claiming Futurity over 350 yards. The 10 fastest qualifiers from the four trials, regardless of finishing positions, will be eligible for the final on June 12. But every horse in those trials is eligible to be claimed for $12,500 on Friday, meaning they could have a new owner or trainer in the final.

Francisco is braced for that.

"I'm sure there will be some claiming going on," he said.

The four trials feature nine horses each. Francisco has the only runners with stakes experience in Okie Dokey Time and Gimme Corona, who were seventh and ninth in the Arizona Quarter Horse Racing Association Spring Futurity at Turf Paradise on April 16.

Okie Dokey Time returned to win a $12,500 claiming race for maidens at Los Alamitos on May 7. Owners Link Newcomb and Micah Leslie are hoping that Okie Dokey Time can qualify for the Claiming Futurity final, but not draw too much attention from rival horsemen. If so, Francisco said there is a Plan B.

Link "is kind of in a pickle," Francisco said. "He wants to claim one out of the last heat, if his horse gets claimed. If not, he'll ride it out with that one."

Overall, the Claiming Futurity has drawn a weak group of 2-year-olds, with just two winners in the four trials. Many of the better race-ready juveniles at Los Alamitos started in the trials and finals of the Kindergarten Futurity earlier this month, or are being prepared for the Ed Burke Million Futurity trials on June 5.

Consequently, Okie Dokey Time is rightfully considered by Francisco to be a contender. "We may lose him and someone could pick up something that could win the futurity," he said.

Four of Francisco's starters are owned by breeder Mimi Wells, who has targeted this race with the first-time starters Bono Bay in the second division and Sweet Escape in the third division. "In case they could run, she didn't want to tip her hand," Francisco said.

Such a tactic could work for Wells if one of her runners qualifies for the final.