06/29/2011 12:57PM

Los Alamitos: Separate Fire puts her connections on the spot


LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. – Separate Fire’s win in the $1,126,000 Ed Burke Million Futurity at Los Alamitos last Sunday has left owner Jose Trevino and trainer Paul Jones with difficult campaign decisions in coming weeks.

Separate Fire is the undisputed leader of the 2-year-old division at Los Alamitos, having won the Kindergarten Futurity in May. To keep that distinction over the next six months, while trying to earn a championship, Trevino and Jones must balance their desire to race in major futurities but not over-race the filly.

With a $1 million bonus available to a horse who wins the Ed Burke, the Golden State Million Futurity on Oct. 30, and the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity on Dec. 11, Trevino and Jones have built-in long-term goals.

At the same time, Separate Fire is eligible for the next two futurities at Los Alamitos – the Governor’s Cup Futurity in late July and the Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Association Futurity in October, which will be run before the trials for the Golden State Million on Oct. 16.

“She’s pretty sound,” Jones said in the winner’s circle of the Ed Burke. “She’s in the Governor’s Cup, but I think we would want to give her a little time.”

The $1 million bonus has never been won. The list of horses who contend for the autumn futurities over 400 yards is often different than the ones who are successful in the major 300- and 350-yard futurities of the spring.

Separate Fire nearly missed a chance to run in the Ed Burke. She finished third in a division of the time trials on June 12, her only career loss in five starts, and had the ninth-fastest of the 10 qualifying times.

The loss was blamed on the filly’s antsy behavior at the gate, which Jones remedied with several schooling sessions with starter John Baker and his team between the trials and final.

“I owe a lot of credit to them,” Jones said.

Separate Fire was flawless in the Ed Burke final. She was patient in the starting gate, even though the field was ready for more than 30 seconds before the race began when others were unsettled. Ridden by Ramon Sanchez, Separate Fire led throughout, and won by a neck over Kindly Fellow, who did not break well.

Those two horses will be among the ones to follow in the fall. The races that Trevino and Jones use to get there remain to be seen.