07/20/2006 12:00AM

Stablemate could challenge Strawkins

Bill Pitt
Separate Tac won his Rainbow Derby trial by a whopping three lengths.

Strawkins, a stakes winner on four different tracks, has an excellent opportunity to gain his first Grade 1 victory in the $268,000 Rainbow Derby on Saturday at Ruidoso Downs.

Strawkins is one of five horses that four-time defending national training champion Paul Jones has in the Rainbow Derby. His other entrants are fastest-qualifier Separate Tac, Ketel Won, Rousing Encore, and Checkher a Firstdown.

The well-traveled Strawkins, winner of 9 of 12 starts, has won stakes races at Sun Downs in Washington, Whoop-Up Downs in Alberta, Canada, Los Alamitos, and Ruidoso Downs.

The gelding is 3 for 3 at Ruidoso, including the Grade 3 Bayer Legend New Mexico Derby Challenge and his Rainbow Derby trial. In his 440-yard Rainbow trial, his first start at the distance, Strawkins drew out to win by two lengths in 21.416 seconds, the second-fastest time from four trials on a sloppy track.

"He loves 440 yards," Jones said. "The off track wasn't his cup of tea. He'll have a kick on the end of it.

"We may supplement him to the All American Derby, and our ultimate goal is the Champion of Champions. We think he's a Champion of Champions-caliber horse." The Grade 1, $600,000 Champion of Champions is at Los Alamitos on Dec. 9.

Stablemate Separate Tac doesn't possess as strong a stakes resume as Strawkins, but could be sitting on a big race after her eye-catching Rainbow Derby trial performance. She popped out of the inside post position and started to stretch her advantage. She kept pulling away until her lead reached three lengths at the end of the quarter-mile. Her time, 21.211 seconds, was the equivalent of 1 1/2 lengths faster than Strawkins's.

Last year, she won 3 of her first 4 starts, but she was winless for a year before taking her Rainbow Derby trial.

"She has settled down and matured," said Jones. "Last year she was sore and had some gate problems. She's always showed a lot of talent."

Jockey Freddie Martinez, who qualified Strawkins and Separate Tac, will ride Separate Tac in the derby. The Los Alamitos-based Cody Jensen picks up the mount on Strawkins.

Remember Me Rose in futurity

Remember Me Rose overcame the weather in the Rainbow Futurity trials, and that effort could lead to favoritism in the Grade 1, $625,000 Rainbow Futurity on Sunday afternoon at Ruidoso Downs.

During the day of the Rainbow Futurity trials, July 7, more than two inches of rain fell at Ruidoso, and nine of the 10 qualifiers came from the first four of 16 trials. Remember Me Rose was the exception, winning the 16th trial to raise her record to 3 wins from 3 starts. She raced the 400 yards in the seventh-fastest qualifying time of 19.825 seconds.

Remember Me Rose made her U.S. debut in the Rainbow Futurity trials after winning her two official starts in Mexico City. She won the $38,100 Ford Mexico Juvenile Challenge by two lengths in an excellent 17.16 seconds for 350 yards.

Screamin Bye won the first trial with the fastest qualifying time of 19.518 seconds for his second win after finishing fourth in his debut.

"He's improving with every start," said trainer Jamie Zamora. "We're just letting him freshen up."

Zamora will also send out Adriannas First Down, second in his Rainbow trial in his first start.

Voghts Gold, third in the Grade 1 Remington Park Futurity, was second to Screamin Bye with the second-fastest time. He was a troubled ninth in the Grade 1 Ruidoso Futurity.

Run Perry Run is the only horse to qualify for the West Texas, Ruidoso, and Rainbow futurities, the three Grade 1 futurities run in New Mexico. His third-place Ruidoso Futurity effort is his best finish.

"He's doing super," said trainer Carl Draper. "We'll just gallop him and stand him in the gates."