10/03/2012 1:44PM

Los Alamitos: Flores has three horses in Breeders' Derby


When Feature Jessie Gail, Ima Chickie Too, and Sweetest Illusion qualified for Friday’s $170,000 Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Racing Association Breeders’ Derby in time trials at Los Alamitos on Sept. 14, trainer Jose Antonio Flores had to watch on television.

Flores was in the midst of a 30-day suspension after one of his horses had tested positive for methamphetamine in June. The suspension ended Sept. 19, allowing Flores to return to his stable well in time for Friday’s rich derby. He has three of the 10 finalists in the 400-yard race.

Flores blames the medication violation on his stable staff, and told Los Alamitos stewards that six of his grooms tested positive for methamphetamine. The incident has left Flores angry.

“It was real disappointing,” he said Tuesday. “I always take care of my medication. When someone in your barn is doing drugs, and you don’t know it, [and] when they end up contaminating one of these horses, it hurts.”

Flores remains on probation until next summer, meaning another positive test for drugs in Classes 1, 2, or 3 could result in a lengthy suspension.

“I’m going through a hard time,” he said. “When I send a horse out there, I’m worried sick. I’m going to install cameras to make my barns a little safer.”

Through all of that, Flores has an excellent chance to win the PCQHRA Breeders’ Derby.

Ima Chickie Too won the corresponding race for 2-year-olds, the 2011 PCQHRA Breeders’ Futurity, when trained by now-suspended Adan Farias.

Flores began training Ima Chickie Too earlier this year. A filly, Ima Chickie Too was second in the Governor’s Cup Derby in July and second in a division of the PCQHRA Breeders’ Derby trials Sept. 14 when trained by Guillermo Morales.

“I think if everything goes good for her, she can be real tough,” Flores said. “She’s an all-around filly. She’s always ready to go and ready to play.”

Flores said that Sweetest Illusion, who won a division of the trials, was not helped by drawing post 4 in a field of 10.

“I wish she had the outside,” he said. “I’m not too thrilled about her being in the middle.”

Sweetest Illusion is one post to the outside of expected favorite Separate Thoughts, who is trained by Patricia Visscher. Separate Thoughts won a division of the 400-yard trials in 19.83 seconds, edging Ima Chickie Too by a head.