03/20/2007 11:00PM

Lassen County looks for first Grade 1 score


Lassen County can prove his second in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby at 17-1 wasn't a fluke when he returns in the third of three trials to the Grade 1, $203,000 El Primero Del Ano Derby for colts and geldings on Friday night at Los Alamitos.

Lassen County has never won a trial to a Grade 1 stakes, but his stakes resume includes a second in the Autumn Handicap and a third (disqualified from second) in the Pomona Juvenile Championship, to go with the second in the Winter Derby in his only Grade 1 start.

Also in the 400-yard trials are two-time Grade 1 futurity qualifier First Down Morn and Maiden Stakes runner-up Little Bit of Baja.

Jess Sass Me leads fillies

Holiday Handicap winner Jess Sass Me, third in the Los Alamitos Winter Derby, will be a strong favorite to qualify for the Grade 1, $215,000 La Primera Winter Derby for fillies on Saturday night at Los Alamitos.

Jess Sass Me has finished on the board in each of her seven starts, with three wins, but has yet to win a Grade 1 race. She won the Holiday Handicap, then was third behind A Stoli Mate in her Winter Derby trial and in the finals. She went off at 2-1 in each of those races.

In the Holiday Handicap, she topped a field stronger than its $28,000 purse would indicate, beating Frankie Shoots and Jumpn Back, among others. Frankie Shoots returned to finish a close second to Winter Derby winner A Stoli Mate in their Winter Derby trial, while Jumpn Back has since won two allowance races easily.

Shamefully returns

Shamefully, coming off a track-record trial win in her career debut, heads the Grade 2, $423,203 Harrah's Entertainment Futurity at Louisiana Downs on Saturday.

A daughter of 1992 champion

2-year-old filly Deceptively, Shamefully pulled away to win her trial by three-quarters of a length in 15.425 seconds for the 300 yards, the fastest qualifying time from

80 starters in 10 trials. She is trained by Jeff Acuna, who also trains the ninth-fastest qualifier, First Dashin Bye, and 10th-fastest qualifier, Betmeimspecial.

Trainer Heath Taylor sends out second- and third-fastest qualifiers Feeling Giddy and Fast Prize Doll, each a winner in her first start.

Feeling Giddy ran to a daylight lead early in her trial and crossed the finish line a half-length ahead of seventh-fastest qualifier Ford Tough.

The well-bred Fast Prize Doll fought to a neck trial win over eighth-fastest qualifier Eyesa Aggressive. She is out of Grade 1 winner Fast First Prize, and her second dam is 2006 broodmare of the year First Prize Dash, a sister to all-time leading sire First Down Dash, whose progeny earnings recently surpassed $60 million.

Willis has the numbers

Trainer Eddie Willis should have an excellent day at Remington Park on Sunday, when he saddles six of the 10 horses in the Grade 3, $200,000 Oklahoma Futurity and the two fastest qualifiers to the Grade 3, $100,000 Oklahoma Derby.

CC Policy leads the Willis contingent in the futurity with a fastest-qualifying trial victory. She ran the 350 yards in 17.791 over a sealed track that was listed as muddy.

Willis also trains trial winners Nothing Excluded, Possum Fust, and Jess Knud Secrets. His other two qualifiers, SR Dash Thur Faith and Ms Make It, were second in their trials.

In the Derby, the Willis-trained pair of Dazzadeck and Too Tough to Catch finished one-two in the first of two trials and have the top two qualifying times. Dazzadeck won by a half-length in 19.796 seconds for the 400 yards. Too Tough to Catch was favored after winning the Easy Jet Stakes and finishing second in the Grade 1 Gold Cup Futurity last year.