12/14/2012 1:40PM

Los Alamitos: Freedom Choice ample replacement for injured stablemate in Two Million Futurity


LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. – Freedom Choice has replaced One Dashing Eagle as the top active 2-year-old in trainer Jose de la Torre’s stable.

The change may be permanent.

One Dashing Eagle, who won the All American Futurity and Golden State Million earlier this year, is finished for the year and recently underwent surgery to have bone chips removed from an ankle and knee. It is possible that One Dashing Eagle could be retired to stud as a 3-year-old in 2013, or could stand at stud and return for another season of racing. A decision is likely in the next month.

Meanwhile, Freedom Choice is the favorite for Sunday’s $2,108,275 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity at Los Alamitos. Despite being overshadowed by his stablemate through the year, Freedom Choice has the qualifications to be a major futurity winner.

Back in June, Freedom Choice qualified for the Ed Burke Million Futurity at Los Alamitos, but was held out of the race by a tibia injury. One Dashing Eagle won the Ed Burke in his first major stakes win.

Freedom Choice did not start again until the trials for the Los Alamitos Two Million on Nov. 25. He won his division in 19.63 seconds, setting the fastest qualifying time for Sunday’s final.

“He could have run, but we sat back and let it heal,” de la Torre said of the summer injury. “We wanted to have a good horse for the end of the season.”

Freedom Choice was considered for the Golden State Million Futurity trials in October, but held out because the stable was confident in One Dashing Eagle.

Cruz Mendez rode Freedom Choice in the Los Alamitos Two Million trials, but has opted to ride trial race winner Matabari on Sunday. G.R. Carter Jr., rides Freedom Choice for the first time on Sunday.

Freedom Choice will be favored in a field that includes Aha Moment, third in the All American Futurity; Fires Blazin, second in the Ed Burke and fifth in the Golden State; and Seperate Interest, who was second in the Golden State.

Aha Moment won a division of the trials on Nov. 25, his first start since the All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs on Sept. 3.

“I was a little worried going into the trial because we hadn’t had an out,” trainer Paul Jones said. “He ran a good race. He’s training better and looks as good as he could for the final. If he can get a clean trip, I think he has an excellent shot.”