08/12/2011 11:17AM

Los Alamitos: Significant Cartel looks to breeze into Golden State Derby finals

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Judging from his recent form, Significant Cartel may not need his best effort to win Sunday’s eighth race at Los Alamitos, the second of three divisions of the Golden State Derby trials.

Significant Cartel has won his last three starts, and will be favored to make it four on Sunday. Trainer Juan Aleman is hoping that jockey Eduardo Nicasio will have enough of a margin in the last 100 yards that the rider will not have to urge his mount.

“If we’re ahead in the trials, and we feel we’ll qualify, we won’t push him,” Aleman said. “When we get in the final, we’ll push him there.”

Having such a confident approach regarding Significant Cartel is new for Aleman and owner Vinewood Farms. The 3-year-old was a disappointment last year, going winless in five starts, and was gelded at the start of this year. After losing his first five races from January to early April, Significant Cartel has won a maiden race and two allowance races since late April.

“We gelded him and that helped,” Aleman said. “Then, he started to fire. We’re hoping he keeps improving.”

Significant Cartel has won races from 300 to 350 yards during the winning streak. He has yet to win at 400 yards, the distance of the Golden State Derby trials, although that is not a concern for Aleman.

“Even in his last races, he’s been galloping out strongly,” Aleman said. “He’s been geared down to the end. We’ve been pointing him for these trials.”

The 10 fastest final times in the three trials, regardless of finishing positions, will earn berths to the $250,000-estimated Golden State Derby on Aug. 28.

The Golden State Derby is usually one of the stronger derbies of the Quarter Horse calendar in the second half of the year, but this year’s lineup is not deep. None of the 23 horses in the trials has won a stakes this year.

In the first division, Been Chased, eighth in the Governor’s Cup Derby on July 30, makes a quick turnaround and starts from the outside in a field of eight.

Aside from Significant Cartel, the second division includes Fearless and First, who broke slowly in the Governor’s Cup Derby and finished last of 10.

The last division is led by Filthy Fast, who has not started since finishing fourth in the Los Alamitos Winter Derby in February.