11/28/2012 3:27PM

Los Alamitos: Freedom Choice comes back strong in Two Million Futurity trial win

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A tibia injury kept Freedom Choice from starting in the Ed Burke Million Futurity final at Los Alamitos in June. Nearly six months later, Freedom Choice has proven again he belongs in such races.

Last Sunday, Freedom Choice set the fastest qualifying time for the $2,108,275 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity on Dec. 16. Ridden by Cruz Mendez, who had five winners in the 13 trial races, Freedom Choice ran 400 yards in 19.62 seconds to lead all qualifiers to the track’s richest race.

He gives owners Gustavo and Jose de la Torre an opportunity for a sweep of the three seven-figure futurities at Los Alamitos. Earlier this year, they won the Ed Burke and Golden State Million futurities with One Dashing Eagle, who also won the All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs. Jose de la Torre trains One Dashing Eagle and Freedom Choice.

One Dashing Eagle was not eligible for the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity because of a missed nomination payment earlier this year. The colt underwent surgery last weekend to have a bone chip removed from a knee and an ankle, an operation that will keep him away from racing until next summer at the earliest.

In his absence, the lightly raced Freedom Choice can win the Two Million. In his trial race Sunday, Freedom Choice won by 2 1/4 lengths despite lugging to the inside in the last half of the race.

“We knew we had a good horse in Freedom Choice, and I thought he was going to run a big race,” Gustavo de la Torre said. “But the time that he put up on the board was certainly a surprise.”

After the tibia injury was detected, Freedom Choice was rested for the remainder of the summer. A start in the Golden State Million Futurity trials in October was considered, but rejected.

“We decided that it would be best to give Freedom Choice the extra time off and get him ready for the Los Alamitos Two Million trials,” Gustavo de la Torre said. “I think it was a good strategy, and it paid off.”

There are no major stakes winners among the 10 qualifiers for the Los Alamitos Two Million. The field includes Aha Moment, who was third in the All American Futurity; Seperate Interest, second in the Golden State Million Futurity; and Fires Blazin, second in the Ed Burke Million Futurity.