07/06/2012 3:34PM

Los Alamitos: Pk Fire eyes championship

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A major stakes winner at 3, Pk Fire is among a group of older Quarter Horses who will be judged this year by one measure – whether they qualify for the $750,000 Champion of Champions at Los Alamitos in December.

Sunday, Pk Fire starts in the $200,000 Vessels Maturity at Los Alamitos as the fastest qualifier from the June 17 trials. At stake in the 400-yard final is an automatic berth to the Champion of Champions, a race that annually plays a pivotal role in the voting for year-end championships.

A 4-year-old owned by Alfonso Pasquel, Pk Fire is trained by Jaime Gomez, who said the gelding has thrived since the trials. Friday, Gomez gave Pk Fire an important schooling session in the starting gate.

“I think everything is okay,” Gomez said. “If he breaks like he did last time, I think we have a good chance. We have a good class horse.”

Pk Fire has been lightly raced this year, making three starts. He was fourth in a division of the Los Alamitos Winter Championship trials in January, but did not qualify for the final. At Remington Park in March, Pk Fire was seventh to reigning World Champion Cold Cash 123 in the Leo Stakes, losing by a length.

Gomez said the van trip to and from Oklahoma did not suit Pk Fire.

“That was kind of a rough trip for this horse,” he said. “The trip is too long on a trailer. He doesn’t like the trailer too much.”

Pk Fire does have an affinity for Los Alamitos. He won the 2011 El Primero Del Ano Derby and was fifth in the Golden State Million Futurity in 2010. Overall, Pk Fire has won 6 of 14 starts and $203,854.

Gomez has a strong team for the Vessels Maturity. He also qualified Senor Toby, who was second in both the Winter Championship and a division of the Vessels trials to El Aguila Real.

With the win in the Winter Championship, El Aguila Real has qualified for the Champion of Champions. Recently acquired privately by Javier Molina, El Aguila Real has won five of his last six starts and is expected to be favored in the Vessels.

The field of 10 includes Flying Fig, the champion 2-year-old filly of 2010, and the stakes winners Buying Snow, Fire Is On, Flaming Out, Lifes Been Good, and Reina Del Fuego, and the stakes-placed Frosty Younger.