07/17/2009 12:00AM

Love Samba stands out

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Following a marathon card of 20 trial races earlier this month for the Grade 1, $650,000 Rainbow Futurity for Quarter Horses, one filly stood out from the 192 horses who vied for the 10 spots in the finale: Love Samba.

She dominated her trial opponents by three lengths July 2. In the process, Love Samba set the fastest qualifying time for the Rainbow, covering 400 yards in 19.54 seconds. The second fastest qualifying time was 19.63 seconds by the colt Stepenos.

The two will meet Sunday in the Rainbow, a 400-yard staple at Ruidoso Downs and one of three major 2-year-old stakes at the track in a series that culminates with the All-American Futurity. Love Samba will break from post 6 under Ricky Ramirez.

"She got a good clean trip last time, got away from the gate good and ran really well," said Blane Wood, who trains Love Samba for Jim Pitts. "I'm hoping she'll run that race back here on Sunday.

"She'll be in a little stiffer competition, and we'll get a good gage on her. I think it's an excellent crop this year. The 2-year-olds have been really competitive across the nation."

As for Love Samba, a sizeable, athletic filly, she has done well from her trial to the finale, said Wood.

"She came out of the race super, real bright-eyed," he said.

Stepenos won his trial by a neck, and is one of four horses trainer Paul Jones will have in the Rainbow Futurity. He also is represented by trial winners Brooks Midnight, Running Brook Gal, and Favorite Cartel.