08/27/2008 11:00PM

One Famous Eagle's schooling pays off from start

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It is almost a given in Quarter Horse racing that many top juveniles will need a lengthy break, and probably surgery, after a grueling debut season. Sometimes, such horses excel at 3, others do not return to the top of the sport.

Last fall, One Famous Eagle won the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity, but missed the winter and spring after being diagnosed with bone chips in a knee. One Famous Eagle returned to racing in late July and was brilliant, winning an allowance race. He will make his 2008 stakes debut in Saturday's $313,900 Golden Sate Derby at Los Alamitos, where he will be heavily favored. One Famous Eagle set the fastest qualifying time in trials on Aug. 16.

Owned by Johnny Trotter and Burnett Ranches and trained by John Bassett, One Famous Eagle has won 4 of 7 starts and $818,560. The Grade 1 Golden State Derby, an important late-summer stakes, will tell the owners and Bassett whether One Famous Eagle is a candidate for the major stakes of the fall.

"He's come back really well," Bassett said. "We didn't have to do a whole lot of surgery, we took a few flakes out of a knee. That saved me more than anything."

Bassett said the biggest change in One Famous Eagle this year is an improvement at the gate. The colt is breaking better, which he did not always do at 2.

"He's starting to leave that gate, and everyone knows how he can finish those races," Bassett said. "That makes him deadly.

"If there is something different, it's his manners in the gate. He's gotten that figured out. Last year, he was fast all the time even though he wasn't breaking all the time. He was closing on some Grade 1 horses."

Before his return to racing, One Famous Eagle had 60 days of water training - 30 days of swimming and 30 days of walking in water, which provided exercise with minimal concussion while building stamina, Bassett said.

"I could get some air in him and not [pressure] those legs," Bassett said.

All of that has led to Saturday's 400-yard race. One Famous Eagle is part of a strong field of 10, including Magic Show Czech, the winner of the 2007 Governor's Cup Futurity; Fighter on Fire, who was second in the 2007 Golden State Million; and Short Czech and My Buddie, who were second and third in the Governor's Cup Derby on July 26.