09/29/2010 11:38AM

Headturner seeks third derby win before tackling older horses

Email

The $163,700 Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Racing Association Derby at Los Alamitos on Friday is likely to produce Headturner’s fifth consecutive win. Headturner set the fastest qualifying time in the 400-yard trials on Sept. 17 and will be heavily favored to repeat that performance.

For trainer Jose Flores, the lucrative derby is a prep race. He has the late November time trials for the $750,000 Champion of Champions on Dec. 11 as an autumn goal for Headturner, who races for Jose Ramon Sandoval.

Headturner has never raced outside his age group, which would make the November time trials and a possible start in the Champion of Champions a stern test. Flores is hoping Headturner gets the chance.

“I think he might be that good,” Flores said earlier this week. “I don’t know if he’s the same level as the older horses, but he’ll be almost 4. Why not give it a shot?”

Already this year, Headturner has won two derbies – the Los Alamitos Winter Derby in February and the El Primero Del Ano Derby in April. His winning streak began in the Winter Derby, continued through the trials and finals of the El Primero Del Ano Derby, and includes the Sept. 17 trial. After the El Primero, Headturner was given a rest at Double Bar S Ranch in Southern California, where he underwent a swimming regimen to maintain fitness.

Flores said that Headturner was not ready for the Golden State Derby trials on Aug. 14, which left the PCQHRA Derby as his first goal for the second half of the year. In the recent trials, Headturner won his division by 1 1/4 lengths in 19.27 seconds.

“We’re real fortunate he came back the same,” Flores said. “I was real impressed with his trial race. He got out there and did his job.”

Headturner will be ridden in the PCQHRA Derby by Rodrigo Aceves, who was aboard for the trial win. Headturner drew post 6 in a field of nine that includes the trial winner Whole Lot of Karma, and Making Fire and Wimping, who were stakes placed earlier this year. Another trial winner, Magical Night, was not entered in the final.

Friday’s program also features the $40,000 Blane Schvaneveldt Handicap over 400 yards, a race restricted to horses that have made three starts this year in the Northwest United States. Schvaneveldt, the winningest trainer in Los Alamitos history, died in July. He was an Idaho native and a proponent of racing in that region of the nation.