01/26/2012 4:26PM

Los Alamitos: Long Gone fresh for Winter Derby trial

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A busy 2-year-old season caught up with Long Gone last November. He won a division of the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity trials but did not run quick enough to qualify for the final.

For the last two months, new trainer Felipe Quintero has taken a quieter approach to Long Gone’s training, preparing the horse with an exercise schedule that has included swimming on a ranch in Romoland, Calif.

Quintero will know if the less strenuous training is working when Long Gone starts in a division of Saturday’s Los Alamitos Winter Derby trials. The top 10 times among the 32 entrants in four trials will earn berths to the $200,000 final on Feb. 18.

Owned by LJM Ranch, Long Gone won 5 of 9 starts and $175,854 last year. He won a trial for the Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Breeders’ Association Futurity and was second in the final on Oct. 1. Two weeks later, Long Gone won a division of the Golden State Million Futurity trials and was fifth in the final on Oct. 30.

Quintero began training Long Gone in November. Previous trainer Adan Farias disbanded his stable after the Golden State Million following six medication positives.

“He ran too many races at the end of the year,” Quintero said.

After missing the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity final, Long Gone was shipped off the backstretch. “We didn’t turn him out, but we sent him to a ranch in Romoland to swim him and to get his mind off races,” Quintero said. “We wanted to freshen him. He’s been more relaxed and he’s feeling good.”

Long Gone starts in the first trial, Saturday’s fifth race. His main competition is Kobe, the winner of the Holiday Handicap on Jan. 1.

In the sixth race, Illegal Smile, formerly trained by Farias, makes his first start since being disqualified from a victory in the Challenge Juvenile Championship at Los Alamitos on Oct. 29 because of a medication violation.

Driving Miss Dazie, a half-sister to the multiple Grade 1 winner and champion Jess You and I, starts from the rail in the seventh race. Quintero starts Sex on Fire, who was fifth in the Ed Burke Million Futurity last June.

In the eighth race, and final trial, the two-time minor stakes winner Check My Thoughts, second in the Holiday Handicap, can win for the fourth time in his seventh start.