03/06/2013 3:13PM

Los Alamitos: Mr Ease Cartel back with Flores after federal seizure

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When federal marshals swept into Los Alamitos last June and seized horses owned by members of Mexico’s Los Zetas drug cartel, trainer Jose Antonio Flores lost two of his best 2-year-olds – Mr Ease Cartel and Super Long Straw.

Both had qualified for the $1,001,000 Ed Burke Million Futurity but were in federal possession by the June 24 final. The loss of Mr Ease Cartel was particularly painful for Flores.

“I never thought I’d see him again,” he said.

The story changed in November. Mike Abraham, a client of Flores’s, formed a partnership to buy Mr Ease Cartel for $127,000 when the colt was consigned to the Heritage Place Mixed Sale in Oklahoma City by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. By December, Mr Ease Cartel was back with Flores at Los Alamitos.

On March 17, Mr Ease Cartel will make his first major start of 2013 in time trials for the $200,000-projected El Primero Del Ano Derby on April 7.

On Feb. 17, Mr Ease Cartel won an allowance race over 330 yards in his first start since the Ed Burke Million time trials last June. He will start in the El Primero Del Ano trials with a leading chance to qualify for the final.

The colt is now owned by Abraham, R.D. Hubbard, David Ross Hinkins, Billy Smith, and Balgo Racing Team. When the team was put together, Flores feared that another trainer would be selected.“I thank Mike,” he said. “He put the people together and gave him to me.”The seizure of the cartel-owned horses was an embarrassment for Flores, who was not implicated. The second half of 2012 was a mix of professional success and setbacks.

He won the Los Alamitos Championship in October with Chivalry Sr and the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity in December with Matabari.

From mid-August to mid-September, he served a 30-day suspension after one of his runners tested positive for methamphetamine in June.

Flores blames the medication violation on his stable staff and told Los Alamitos stewards that six of his grooms tested positive for methamphetamine.

“I’m glad all that’s behind me,” he said earlier this month.Mr Ease Cartel has been nominated for the All American Derby at Ruidoso Downs in September for $25,000. It was money well spent, Flores said.

“Some people pay $200,000 for a horse, and they don’t know anything about them,” he said.