07/26/2012 11:30AM

Los Alamitos: La Gata Negra has no margin for error in Governor's Cup Futurity


La Gata Negra was not the obvious choice to emerge from the July 13 time trials as the fastest qualifier for Saturday’s $380,000 Governor’s Cup Futurity at Los Alamitos.

Winless in her first two starts, she won a division of the trials by a nose in 17.57 seconds, despite weaving in and out through 350 yards.

There will be no margin for error in Saturday’s final, her second start for trainer Mark Skeen.

“I think she has a good shot,” said Mark’s wife, Holly, who assists her husband. “We need a clean break.”

As for the filly’s erratic behavior in the trials, Holly Skeen said that was partly due to an outside draw. In the final, La Gata Negra has drawn post 7 in a field of 10.

“I think she will grow out of it,” she said. “Maybe she was a little green.”

The Governor’s Cup trial was La Gata Negra’s first start for the Skeens, based in St. George, Utah. Owned by Armando Arreola Jr., La Gata Negra made her first two starts for trainer Francisco Ramirez Jr.

La Gata Negra became the fastest qualifier after her race and two other early divisions were retimed after the timing system failed in the fourth of six trial races. All trial races must be timed in the same fashion to ensure consistency.

There are no stakes winners in the Governor’s Cup Futurity. Remembering Spence won the Ed Burke Juvenile, the consolation to the $1 million futurity, on June 24. Holly Skeen said the filly I Go Out Walkin, second to La Gata Negra in the trials, and Don Loncho, winner of a division of the trials, are two finalists that merit respect.

There will be major support for Henoshersecret, a trial race winner in 17.58 seconds for trainer Paul Jones.

The Governor’s Cup Futurity is the richest of 13 races on Saturday’s program for California-bred Quarter Horses.

The most competitive of the four stakes worth $50,000 or more is the $222,500 Governor’s Cup Derby over 400 yards. Fastest qualifier Terrific Synergy must beat New Look, winner of the El Primero Del Ano Derby in April; Ima Chickie Too, winner of the PCQHRA Breeders’ Futurity last October; and Kindly Fellow, who was second in the 2011 Ed Burke Million Futurity.

Hot Hitter, winner of the 2011 Governor’s Cup Derby, makes his first start since December in the $100,000 Spencer Childers Championship for older horses over 400 yards.

The $50,000 Matron Stakes over 400 yards is led by Classic Sassy Check and Getit Together, the first two finishers of the Ivan Ashment Handicap over the same distance June 9.