06/14/2013 12:50PM

Los Alamitos: Pk Fire all set for Vessels Maturity trial

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Not even a recent incident of roughhousing on a backstretch walking machine can keep Pk Fire from a start in the Vessels Maturity trials for older Quarter Horses at Los Alamitos on Sunday evening.

Pk Fire emerged from an early June mishap on the horse-walker “scratched up a little bit,” trainer Jaime Gomez said. But after galloping and being ponied in the last week, Gomez on Thursday pronounced Pk Fire fit for the 400-yard trials.

Owned by Gerardo Pasquel, Pk Fire will make his second start of 2013 in the Vessels trials. He won the Kaweah Bar Handicap over 350 yards at Los Alamitos on May 4.

“I love the way he won last time,” Gomez said.

In June 2012, Pk Fire finished third behind El Aguila Real in the Vessels Maturity, the summertime championship for older horses at Los Alamitos. Pk Fire, a 5-year-old gelding by Walk Thru Fire, did not start again last year. He underwent surgery to have a bone chip removed from a knee, Gomez said.

There are two divisions of the Vessels Maturity trials. The horses with the 10 fastest times, regardless of finishing positions, advance to the $200,000-projected final July 7.

Pk Fire starts in the second of the two divisions.

The leading contenders in the first leg are Deniro, who won the Los Alamitos Super Derby last November; and Bills Last, a game second in the Los Alamitos Winter Championship in February. Deniro has not raced since a fifth-place finish in the Champion of Champions last December.

Bills Last has lost twice since the Winter Championship, finishing a troubled fifth in the Katella Handicap on March 24 and third, beaten a neck, by Pk Fire in the Kaweah Bar.

The loss in the Kaweah Bar was a disappointment to trainer Paul Jones.

“I thought he’d do better than that,” Jones said. “I think with a big start he can be right there.”

Jones starts the New Mexico stakes winner Jess Featureme Quick in the second division.

“He drew the one hole, and I’m not crazy about that,” Jones said.

A 4-year-old gelding, Jess Featureme Quick was third in the All American Derby at Ruidoso Downs last September and won the Hobbs America Derby at Zia Park last October.

Jess Featureme Quick was second in the Sunland Park Challenge Championship as the 3-5 favorite April 7.