06/22/2005 11:00PM

Joiner takes two shots at $1.1M Burke

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Until this year, Quarter Horse trainer Mike Joiner had not spent a summer at Los Alamitos since 1984. The way things have gone in recent weeks, Joiner is wishing he had come back a lot sooner.

Saturday, Joiner has two finalists in the $1,145,000 Ed Burke Memorial Million Futurity over 350 yards at Los Alamitos - Fishers Tale and Identity Theft. Remarkably, they are the only two horses he sent to California from his 50-strong stable in Ruidoso, N.M.

The Burke is the first of three million-dollar futurities at Los Alamitos this year, followed by the Golden State Million in November and the Los Alamitos Million in December.

The field of 10 for the Ed Burke includes Higher Fire, a fast-closing third in the $262,900 Kindergarten at 300 yards on May 14; Wave Carver, a full brother to 2004's champion 2-year-old, Ocean Runaway, and one of five finalists trained by Paul Jones; and the full brothers One Corona and Two Corona Special.

One Corona and Two Corona Special are by Strawfly Special out of Corona Cash. Quarter Horse breeders are allowed to register multiple foals out of a mare each year. A common practice is to take an embryo from a prized mare, such as millionaire champion Corona Cash, and use a surrogate mare to carry the foal to term.

"It's a tough field," Joiner said. "Wave Carver looks pretty good. You've got to give Higher Fire a lot of respect. She was coming on strong at the end" of the Kindergarten.

Identity Theft is the fastest qualifier, having run 350 yards in 17.42 seconds in the second of 15 trials on June 4.

The colt is making his second appearance in a final. He was sixth in the West Texas-Sunland Park Futurity on April 3. Joiner blamed the loss on the effects of a bout with distemper that Identity Theft suffered over the winter.

"I don't think he ran his race in the finals," Joiner said. "He has put on a lot of weight and he has gotten completely healthy."

Identity Theft breaks from post 6, while Fishers Tale starts from the outside. In the trials, Fishers Tale broke from the rail and overcame a bumping incident to set the eighth-fastest time.

"He had to get his feet underneath him and he finished really strong," Joiner said. "If he had gotten a clean trip, he would have run a little faster."

In Saturday's race, there will be no margin for error.