03/22/2006 12:00AM

New Mexico futurity season begins

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Recent maiden-race winners should have an edge when the New Mexico futurity season starts on Friday afternoon in the eight trials to the Grade 1, $233,000 West Texas Futurity at Sunland Park.

There are 72 2-year-olds in the trials. Those with the 10 fastest times will qualify for the 300-yard finals on April 9.

In last year's West Texas Futurity, Leading Spirit raced to his first of three Grade 1 futurity wins on his way to being named 2005 champion 2-year-old gelding. He also won the Ruidoso Futurity and the Rainbow Futurity, both at Ruidoso Downs.

Jess Charming comes into the sixth trial off a one-length victory in a 300-yard maiden race on March 4. She was timed in 15.33 seconds while facing a headwind.

The first trial provides a rematch of a March 4 maiden race between Speed Transformed and Jess Destined. In that 300-yard race, Speed Transformed prevailed by a neck over Jess Destined in 15.22 while being aided by a tailwind.

Draper's latest derby horse

Carl Draper, who trained 2005 world champion DM Shicago to three Grade 1 derby wins, may have another derby winner when he sends out the recently purchased Look for Wranglers in the Grade 2, $123,050 West Texas Derby on Saturday at Sunland Park.

Look for Wranglers, purchased before the March 10 West Texas Derby trials by J&L Stables and Fredda Draper, responded in his first start for his new connections with the fastest qualifying time of 19.092 seconds for 400 yards. Improving in each of his last three starts, he won his maiden on Feb. 3, was second in an allowance race on Feb. 17, and then won his trial by an expanding length in his first start for Draper.

Second-fastest qualifier Miss Breann returned from a six-month layoff with a 1 1/2-length trial win in 19.221, indicating she may be a derby contender throughout the year in New Mexico. She made four starts before her layoff, all at Ruidoso Downs last summer, with wins in her Rainbow and All American futurity trials, and a third in the Rainbow Juvenile, a race for 2-year-olds who did not qualify for the Rainbow Futurity.

Derby trials at Los Alamitos

Volcom, who has qualified for two Grade 1 events, is expected to reach the finals of the Grade 2, $129,400 El Primero Del Ano Derby when he runs in one of two six-horse trials to the 400-yard stakes on Friday night at Los Alamitos.

Saturday night, fillies will compete in the trials to the Grade 2, $170,000 La Primera Del Ano Derby.

With 6 wins from 9 career starts, including five wins in trials for graded stakes, Volcom has been among the premier colts at Los Alamitos, but he has not yet scored a graded stakes win. He finished third in the Grade 1 Governor's Cup Futurity on July 30, and then reeled off five straight wins before finishing a troubled fifth in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby, his most recent start on Feb. 24.

In the first trial, Volcom will be challenged by Wanta Dubloon, who is looking for his first win since taking the Quarter Racing Journal Stakes on Nov. 5. Since that win he was third in the Los Alamitos Winter Derby and fourth in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Million.

Saturday's La Primera Del Ano Derby trials feature a rested Love My Corona, who finished a nose behind Gold Nugget Rd for second in the Grade 1 Kindergarten on May 14. She was given a four-month rest after the Kindergarten and came back last fall to finish seventh on the Grade 1 PCQHRA Breeders Futurity and 10th in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Million, her most recent start, on Dec. 9.