05/06/2011 4:04PM

Los Alamitos: Separate Fire prominent in Kindergarten trials

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When Separate Fire won a 300-yard maiden race in 15.40 seconds at Los Alamitos on April  15, her status in trainer Paul Jones’s stable soared.

“I think Separate Fire will be one of my better 2-year-olds,” he said on Thursday.

Jones has more than 110 2-year-old Quarter Horses in training in California, New Mexico, and Oklahoma this spring. Led by Separate Fire, seven of them will start in time trials for the Kindergarten Futurity at Los Alamitos on Sunday evening.

Separate Fire starts in the fifth of nine divisions, the sixth race, and will be favored. Since her win, she has impressed Jones with her training. “She’s been pretty sound so far,” he said. “Hopefully, she can keep it going.”

The 10 fastest times in the 300-yard trials, regardless of finish positions, will earn berths in the $400,000 final on May 22. Even though the Kindergarten is a lucrative race, there are three seven-figure futurities this summer and fall at Los Alamitos. Having those races, plus a few other futurities along the way, forces trainers to choose which races to attempt with the prospects.

The first of the seven-figure races is the Ed Burke Futurity in June.

Juveniles must be a full 2-year-olds before they can start, which eliminates some late foals from consideration for the Kindergarten. Jones said some 2-year-olds put into training each spring do not withstand early training – sore shins are common – and need additional time. The ideal Kindergarten prospect is, he says, “the early-born horses that mature a little quicker.”

Most of the runners on Sunday have started, but not all of the trials feature race winners.

Aside from Separate Fire, Sompin About First in the fifth race, Paparritos in the seventh, and Rocking Dasher in the ninth will be well-supported, having won their first starts at Los Alamitos in April.

The final leg features three winners – Kindly Fellow, Red Dasher, and This Boogie Fires. Owner Mike Abraham said in April that This Boogie Fires would be held out of the Kindergarten in favor of the Ed Burke trials on June 11, following a maiden race win on April 15.

In recent weeks, Abraham has watched some of his other 2-year-olds who are Ed Burke candidates work quickly in advance of their first starts, leaving him and trainer Jaime Gomez to start This Boogie Fires this weekend.

“We’ve got a couple of others that worked really well,” he said. “Maybe it’s greed, but we’ll go and try it.”