08/31/2004 11:00PM

Have a Coronary needs quick start


It won't take long for trainer John Bassett to know if Have a Coronary will be causing heart palpitations for the competition's connections in the Grade 1, $2 million All American Futurity on Monday at Ruidoso Downs.

If Have a Coronary is out in front with a clear early lead in the 440-yard race, Bassett will know his gelding may hang on for the $1 million winner's share. If Have a Coronary isn't on the lead, well, Bassett need not plan on making a large bank deposit.

"He's a super gate horse," Bassett, winner of two of the last five All American Futurities, said from the Ruidoso barn. "He never makes a mistake.

"At a quarter-mile he might be a little suspect. But, if the other horses have trouble at the gate, watch out."

In his only try at 440 yards, his All American trial on Aug. 19, Have a Coronary won, and his 21.541-second time was good enough for the seventh-fastest qualifying time from the 209 trial entrants. It was a strong effort, but the gelding will probably need to take a step forward to be dangerous in the All American.

"He might have been a little short" for the trial, Bassett said, "or lost a little concentration after he got out there on the lead."

The theory that Have a Coronary may have been a little short is backed by the fact that it was just his fourth career start. Only one other All American finalist, Ojo Loca, has fewer starts, three.

Bassett wants lightly raced 2-year-olds at All American time. He said he prefers not to send a horse to the Ruidoso Futurity, the first futurity at Ruidoso Downs each year, run in June, opting to have "one that's live" for the Rainbow Futurity in July and the All American, "and still have something left" for the Los Alamitos Million in December at Los Alamitos.

Have a Coronary's career fits this schedule. He finished a close second in a maiden race on June 25 at Ruidoso and then came back in his Rainbow Futurity trial to win his maiden, but he encountered a headwind, and his time was not fast enough to qualify for the finals. He then won his All American trial.

Bassett has won the All American with A Delightful Dasher (1999) and Ausual Suspect (2001). He was also second in the 1993 All American Futurity with Heza Fast Man, who broke a foot abscess the night before the finals, didn't walk soundly until a few hours before post time, and was still beaten by only a nose.

"It might as well have been a mile," said Bassett, who still feels the hurt of the narrow defeat 11 years later.

On Monday, Bassett is hoping Have a Coronary causes other trainers distress.

"I'd love to give somebody else a coronary," Bassett said.