12/11/2009 1:00AM

Saturday Nite Fever quite the purchase


The acquisition of Saturday Nite Fever was not the most conventional horse transaction in recent years.

Owner Reyes Salcedo bought the now-3-year-old Quarter Horse in a trade that featured a cutting horse and a cash payment. So far, Salcedo, who operates a construction company in Southern California, has come out fairly well in the deal.

Saturday Nite Fever has won 5 of 11 starts and $142,551, and will be after his second major prize of the fall in Sunday's $158,850 Southern California Derby at Los Alamitos. The Southern California Derby is the last major stakes at the Quarter Horse track this year.

Trained by Hector Hernandez, Saturday Nite Fever set the fastest qualifying time of three trials on Nov. 27 and will be after his third win in his last four starts in the 400-yard final. Saturday Nite Fever won the California Derby Challenge at Los Alamitos on Aug. 23, finished third in the Garden Grove Handicap in early October, and rebounded to win the $200,000 Bayer Legend Derby Challenge on Oct. 31.

The consistency is a turnaround from Saturday Nite Fever's early races, when he won 2 of 5 starts at 2, a campaign highlighted by a win in the Corona Chick Handicap.

"He was a little crazy early in his racing career, but he's really matured," Salcedo said.

In the trials, Saturday Nite Fever outfinished Jessanotheraffair, the winner of the Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Racing Association Derby in October, and Tres Passes, the winner of two million-dollar futurities in 2008, finishing 400 yards in 19.41 seconds. Jessanotheraffair and Tres Passes are among the finalists for the Southern California Derby.

The second trial featured a one-two finish from Royal Proclamation and Fantastic Corona Jr, who were third and second in the All American Derby at Ruidoso Downs in September. Royal Proclamation was timed in 19.49 seconds, while Fantastic Corona Jr has the fifth-fastest time of 19.53 seconds.

Fantastic Corona Jr will be making his sixth appearance in a major final, and is seeking his first win. He was second in the Los Alamitos Winter Derby and All American Derby earlier this year, third in the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity last year, and fifth in the 2008 Ed Burke Million Futurity and last month's Los Alamitos Super Derby.

The field of 10 also includes Hulapai, Jimmy Delivers, Morning Corona, Sixish, and Sugar Mama. Jimmy Delivers is making his fifth appearance in a derby final this year, trying to improve on third-place finishes in the Los Alamitos Winter and El Primero Del Ano derbies.