04/05/2012 1:01PM

Los Alamitos: Kobe needs clean trip in El Primero Del Ano Derby


Win or lose, Kobe, the 3-year-old stakes-winning Quarter Horse, will be rested until the fall after Saturday’s $184,000 El Primero Del Ano Derby at Los Alamitos.

Kobe will be favored to go on vacation as a winner.

Trained by Paul Jones for breeders Mark and Mary Parsons, Kobe won the Los Alamitos Winter Derby on Feb. 18 and was a troubled third in a division of the El Primero Del Ano Derby trials on March 18.

“He got on the outside and drifted out a bit,” Jones said of the trial. “It took a while for him to get into the race. Luckily, we qualified.”

Kobe was timed in 19.92 seconds, finishing 1 14 lengths behind race winner and fastest qualifier New Look, who was timed in 19.68 seconds.

Jones said on Thursday that Kobe will be given a break of four or five months after Saturday’s race and will not return to racing until the end of the year. He said it is unclear whether Kobe will be back for the lucrative Los Alamitos Super Derby, which has trials in October.

Still, Jones said that Kobe is capable of repeating his performance in the Winter Derby, his first stakes win.

“He’s as good as he was when he won the other derby,” Jones said. “We need a clean trip.”

If Kobe runs a subpar race, New Look is capable of winning. One of three runners in the nine-horse field trained by Dan Francisco, New Look has yet to win a stakes. He was a troubled seventh in the $151,800 Los Alamitos Maiden Stakes after a poor start on Feb. 26.

Francisco trains New Look for Mimi Wells. He also starts Willie Dasher, who was third in a division of the trials after a troubled start, and Jess Dapper, who won for the first time in his eight-race career in the trials.

Aside from Kobe, Jones also starts One Famous Ferragamo, a gelding who was second in the Los Alamitos Maiden Stakes, losing by a head. In the El Primero Del Ano Derby trials, One Famous Ferragamo finished second, a half-length behind SompinAbout First, the second-fastest qualifier.

Jones did not enter Long Gone, the 10th fastest qualifier who was third behind Jess Dapper in the trials. Long Gone qualified to three futurities and the Winter Derby earlier in his career.