12/16/2010 3:52PM

Princelike seeks a breakthrough

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There has been a common theme to the 2010 campaign of Princelike, the 3-year-old Quarter Horse: Qualify for a major derby with a solid performance in the trials, but fail to duplicate the effort in the final.

Earlier this year, Princelike was second in the Los Alamitos Winter Derby in February, second in the Golden State Derby in August, and fourth in the Los Alamitos Super Derby on Nov. 6.

Princelike’s fourth derby appearance of the year will be in Saturday’s $202,500 Southern California Derby over 400 yards at Los Alamitos, the last big fiesta of the racing season. The track’s 2010 meeting ends Sunday; the 2011 meeting begins Jan. 1.
Owned by track chairman Ed Allred, Princelike breaks from the rail, which originally did not thrill trainer Jose Antonio Flores. But a start from the rail reduces by half Princelike’s chances of bumping with a rival.

Flores was encouraged by Princelike’s first start of 2010 – a trial win for the Winter Derby from the rail in January.

“It wasn’t my first choice to get the one hole,” Flores said. “But he ran a helluva race out of the one hole before. I’m waiting for him to prove he can do something for me.”

Flores switched riders after the Los Alamitos Super Derby, replacing Juan Andrade with the veteran G.R. Carter Jr., 42. Carter rode Princelike in the Southern California Derby trials when the gelding stumbled at the break and then bumped with a rival before finishing a nose behind Runaway Tyme.

“He’s bumped [at the start] in the last three,” Flores said. “That’s not typical of Princelike. He’s been off balance, and that’s not been like him.”

If Princelike can have a clean start, Flores expects a victory. To do so, he must beat a formidable team trained by Adan Farias, who has five of the nine finalists – Dream the Day Away, Fire in the Hole, Harems Last Dash, Snitcher, and Sparky E Boy. Runaway Tyme (trained by Paul Jones), Hoist Mission (Rafael Orozco), and Forrest Fire (Dan Francisco) are the other runners.

Sparky E Boy was the fastest qualifier in 19.48 seconds and is seeking his fourth consecutive win. The gelding won two minor stakes in the fall – the Intermountain and Town Policy handicaps.