07/04/2005 11:00PM

Leading Spirit on bonus trail


Leading Spirit, a two-time Grade 1 futurity winner, takes the next step to a possible $4 million bonus in one of the 16 trials to the Grade 1, $700,000 (estimated) Rainbow Futurity on Thursday afternoon at Ruidoso Downs.

Leading Spirit dominated the Grade 1 Ruidoso Futurity, and if he can win the Rainbow Futurity and the $2 million All American Futurity, his connections will receive the $4 million bonus.

The juveniles with the 10 fastest times in the Rainbow trials qualify for the Rainbow Futurity finals on July 24.

Leading Spirit has been sensational, with five impressive victories from five career starts, including the Ruidoso Futurity and the West Texas Futurity. In his two starts at Ruidoso Downs he set the fastest qualifying time to the Ruidoso Futurity with an excellent 17.17-second time for 350 yards, and then won the $550,000 Ruidoso Futurity even though he drifted across the track. He was clear of his rivals, though, and there was no inquiry or objection.

Leading Spirit may be tested in the 11th trial by the undefeated Eyesa Shaker, who comes off a nose win in the Grade 1 Heritage Place Futurity on May 21. She previously won her maiden and her Heritage Place trial.

Ladys Is First, who was second to Leading Spirit in each of his futurity wins, returns in the sixth trial.

Millionaires in Derby trials

A pair of millionaires - Ocean Runaway, the 2004 champion 2-year-old, and DM Shicago, winner of the All American Futurity - head the five trials to the Grade 1 Rainbow Derby on Friday at Ruidoso Downs.

Ocean Runaway is making his first start since wrapping up his championship with a one-length win in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Million Dec. 10 at Los Alamitos. He also won the Grade 1 Golden State Million during his current four-race winning streak. Those two wins in $1 million futurities have provided the majority of his $1,158,104 in career earnings.

DM Shicago concluded his 2004 season with a three-quarter-length victory in the All American Futurity on Labor Day. This year, he has won the Grade 1 Ruidoso Derby after having finished second in his trial behind Mighty Invictus. On the strength of those two stakes wins and a third in the 2004 Rainbow Futurity, DM Shicago has earned $1,192,178.

The 10 fastest qualifiers from the 440-yard trials meet in the July 23 finals.

SLM Snowman an MBNA supplement

SLM Snowman, winner of last year's $300,000 MBNA America Challenge Championship, could make good on a $2,500 supplemental entry fee in the Grade 1, $107,190 MBNA America Texas Challenge at 440 yards on Saturday night at Sam Houston Race Park.

Saturday's deep stakes program will also include the Grade 3, $58,770 Bayer Legend Texas Derby; the Grade 3, $35,460 Texas Distaff Challenge; the Grade 3, $28,350 MD Barns Texas Distance Challenge; and the Grade 1, $345,015 TQHA Sale Futurity for horses in last year's Texas Quarter Horse Association yearling sale.

SLM Snowman tried to qualify for this year's MBNA America Challenge Championship in the June 4 MBNA America Oklahoma Challenge at Remington Park, but finished third as the 2-1 favorite.

Last year, SLM Snowman reeled off five straight wins, capped by his dominating 1 3/4-length victory in the Challenge Championship at Sam Houston. He has been winless in four starts since then and was a beaten favorite in three of those starts.

In the Bayer Legend Derby Challenge, Kathys Star Quest makes her fourth start since June 4 and meets the 2004 Ruidoso Futurity winner, All About Ease. Kathys Star Quest may be thriving on her heavy workload, as she comes off a fastest-qualifier victory in her trial over All About Ease. Kathys Star Quest was timed in 20.137 seconds for 400 yards. All About Ease, in her first start in seven months, was two lengths back.

In the John Deere Texas Distaff Challenge at 400 yards, La Torch goes for her third straight win after winning her trial by two lengths as the 9-5 favorite.

In the MD Barns Texas Distance Challenge at 870 yards, the consistent Halfway a Streak, on the board in eight straight races, will meet Kaydena, winner of her only two starts at 870 yards.

In the TQHA Sale Futurity, the fastest qualifier, Shazoomer, will try to continue improving after winning his maiden in his trial with a 17.880-second victory at 350 yards. He came into the trials off two seconds from two starts, including the Ford East Juvenile Challenge as the 8-5 favorite.