06/10/2011 2:07PM

Separate Fire tops Jones's 27 runner in Burke trials


Separate Fire, the undefeated winner of the Grade 1 Kindergarten Futurity on May 22, is the leading 2-year-old Quarter Horse among a massive 27-horse string that trainer Paul Jones will start in 12 divisions of the Ed Burke Million Futurity trials at Los Alamitos on Sunday evening. For the record there are 76 horses starting for other trainers in the trials.

“We’ll be busy,” Jones said.

The 10 fastest qualifying times in the 350-yard trials, regardless of finishing positions, will advance to the June 26 final, which has an estimated purse of $1 million. The Burke is the first of three seven-figure futurities at Los Alamitos, followed by the Golden State Million in November and the Los Alamitos Two Million in December.

Separate Fire is the only stakes winner in the trials. She starts from the outside in a field of nine in the fourth division. “She drew really well and she should stay out of trouble,” Jones said.

The nation’s leading Quarter Horse trainer, Jones has two or three starters in each division of the trials. Aside from Separate Fire, he considers Impassion Queen and Moon Over Max in the first race, Natalie Dash in the fifth, Travesty in the sixth, Jennifers Challenge in the ninth, and Bf Farm Girl in the 10th as his best chances to qualify for the Ed Burke.

Natalie Dash, a Mexican-bred filly, won her debut in a 300-yard maiden race on May 21 by a half-length over Taras Secret, who starts in the sixth division of Sunday’s trials.

“She’s doing really super,” Jones said of Natalie Dash. “She won that race so impressively.”

There are two other runners from the Kindergarten in the trials – Kindly Fellow, fourth in the Kindergarten, starts in the 10th division, while Sompin About First, seventh in the Kindergarten, starts in the ninth race.

Two recent maiden race winners will command attention. Blue de Lis won a 300-yard race by 2 1/4 lengths in a quick 15.41 seconds on May 14, and starts in the 10th race. The last division features Delight At Night, who won a 300-yard race in 15.43 seconds on May 6, a race in which she was bumped twice and recovered to win.

Delight At Night was not asked for her best effort in that race, trainer Juan Aleman said.

“Once she was able to get a hold of the ground, the rider just hand rode her,” Aleman said. “We never asked her. We’ll ask her on Sunday.”