04/20/2012 2:13PM

Los Alamitos: Forrest Fire a contender in Kaweah Bar


Duplicating the success of early April may be impossible for Quarter Horse owner-breeder Mimi Wells in coming days.

On April 5-6, Wells won the El Primero Del Ano Derby at Los Alamitos with New Look, saw her 2-year-old maiden Chics on Fire win at Los Alamitos, and qualified Better than Ever and Kool Baby for the President’s Open Sprint Futurity at Turf Paradise. The final of that race is Friday.

By then, Wells may have another stakes trophy if Forrest Fire wins Sunday’s $25,000 Kaweah Bar Handicap at Los Alamitos. Run over 350 yards, the Kaweah Bar was once the first major handicap of the Los Alamitos schedule, before the track moved to a year-round racing calendar in 2000.

Currently, the Kaweah Bar is a prep for the $250,000-projected Vessels Maturity, which has trials on June 17 and a final on July 8.

Forrest Fire, a 5-year-old gelding bred by Wells and trained by Dan Francisco, has won 5 of 30 starts and $278,454. He was 10th in the 2009 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity and third in the $1 million Los Alamitos Super Derby in 2010. Last year, Forrest Fire was winless in eight starts, and ended a 12-race losing streak with a win in the Katella Handicap over 350 yards on March 11.

Forrest Fire broke well in the Katella Handicap and drifted to the inside before winning by a half-length over Significant Cartel, who starts in the Kaweah Bar.

“He’s not the best gate horse in the world,” Wells said of Forrest Fire. “I was watching his last race, and he shifted in. Dan has been schooling him, and hopefully he won’t do that.”

The Kaweah Bar drew a field of 10. The only other 2012 stakes winner in the field is Jumpin Shake, who won the Anaheim Handicap in February.

Wells has had a 40-year involvement in Quarter Horse racing as a jockey and trainer’s wife, to the late Dwayne Wells, and an owner-breeder.

Dwayne Wells died in 1996.

Mimi Wells has remained highly active in the sport. She raced Chicks First Policy, the champion 3-year-old gelding of 2012. These days, she focuses on breeding higher-quality horses and occasionally buying yearlings.

The program’s success has been evident of late.

“I hadn’t a good year since Chicks First Policy retired, but in this business you’ve got to be patient,” she said. “Hopefully, this will be a good year for me.”