08/05/2005 12:00AM

Leading Spirit takes aim at $4M bonus


The undefeated three-time Grade 1 futurity winner Leading Spirit is training well in his attempt to win the $2 million All American Futurity along with a $4 million bonus, according to trainer Blane Wood.

The bonus goes to the connections of a horse who can win the Ruidoso, Rainbow, and All American futurities at Ruidoso Downs. Co-owned by Barry Thompson and Dan and Jolene Urschel, Leading Spirit has won the Ruidoso and Rainbow futurities, plus the Grade 1 West Texas Futurity at Sunland Park.

"He galloped on Sunday and Thursday," Wood said. "He galloped well and pulled up well. We will keep on the same routine until the [All American] trials."

Regular rider J.J. Gonzalez was aboard for each gallop.

"He has been eating like an elephant," Wood said. "We're just tickled to get this far."

The 440-yard All American trials on Aug. 18 should attract more than 200 entrants. The horses with the 10 fastest qualifying times become eligible for the finals on Labor Day.

Leading Spirit has earned $694,616 and would earn about $1 million with an All American victory. With the bonus, Leading Spirit would have approximately $5.7 million in earnings if he can prevail in the All American.

The closest a competitor has gotten to Leading Spirit in his seven victories came in the 300-yard West Texas Futurity, where Ladys Is First finished three-quarters of a length behind him. Leading Spirit then beat Ladys Is First by a length in the 350-yard Ruidoso Futurity.

Leading Spirit pulled away to win the 400-yard Rainbow Futurity by a length, showing that the 440-yard distance of the All American should not be an issue.

"He has raced every race and it hasn't been against the little sisters of the poor. He has beaten some very good horses," said Thompson. "We will turn him out for four months after the All American. He deserves it."

Taylor Foursome in Juvenile

Trainer Heath Taylor saddles four horses, including the promising pair of Blood Pollution and A Separate Reign, in the Grade 3, $77,760 Ford New Mexico Juvenile Challenge on Sunday afternoon at Ruidoso Downs.

Blood Pollution, winner of his trial in his career debut, should be a prime contender after his strong debut. Sent off at 7-2, Blood Pollution drew out to a 1 1/2-length trial victory in 17.515 seconds for 350 yards, the second-fastest time from eight trials on July 21.

A Separate Reign is undefeated in two starts with a maiden score and his 1 1/2-length trial victory in 17.635, the third-fastest qualifying time.

Taylor also sends out Separate Splash, second in each of his two starts, and A Pretty Girl, third in her trial behind fastest-qualifier A Special Shade.

A Special Shade led the qualifiers with a length, 17.40-second victory, for his first win from three starts. He qualified for the Grade 1 Ruidoso Futurity and finished seventh in the finals.

Going to the Hague at Canterbury

Going to the Hague is well positioned to gain her first stakes win in the Grade 3, $39,330 Ford Central Juvenile Challenge on Sunday afternoon at Canterbury Park.

Going to the Hague returned from a nearly three-month layoff to win her 350-yard Central Juvenile Challenge trial by 1 1/4 lengths in 17.858, the quickest time from three trials. Second was Grade 3 Northlands Futurity third-place finisher Waving Bye, who also made the finals.

Going to the Hague made three starts at Remington Park before her layoff, with a win, a second, and an eighth in the Grade 2 Lazy E Futurity.