04/23/2003 12:00AM

'Strawfly' primed to win first graded stakes

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Sum Special Strawfly, runner-up in the Grade 1 Golden State Futurity last year, goes for his first graded stakes win in Friday night's Grade 2, $144,000 El Primero Del Ano Derby for colts and geldings at Los Alamitos.

Despite being bumped, Sum Special Strawfly won his trial on April 11 by a neck with a 19.870-second time for the 400 yards. Ramon Sanchez, the leading rider at Los Alamitos the past two years, was aboard Sum Special Strawfly, his first mount since being injured in a Feb. 23 riding accident.

From the barn of leading trainer Paul Jones, Sum Special Strawfly finished a nose behind First Place Queen in the $733,950 Golden State Futurity on Nov. 11. He wrapped up his juvenile season by winning the $25,000 Breeders Classics Futurity.

In the second of two trials for the El Primero Del Ano Derby, A Mere Special won his maiden in his third start by defeating 1-5 favorite Corona Captain.

Fine Wines fastest for La Primera

Fine Wines will have a rematch with world-record holder Classic Sassy Chic in the Grade 2, $155,400 La Primera Del Ano Derby for fillies on Saturday night at Los Alamitos.

Owned by The Vessels Stallion Farms and trained by Danny Cardoza, Fine Wines won her maiden on March 21 and then came back on April 12 and won her La Primera trial over Classic Sassy Chic, who finished third and earned a spot in the 400-yard finals.

Fines Wines topped the qualifiers with her 19.710-second time for the 400 yards.

Classic Sassy Chic set the 350-yard world record of 17.135 seconds when she won the Grade 1 American Airlines Juvenile Challenge at Lone Star Park on Nov. 2.

Coronas Prospect heads Challenge

Track-record holder Coronas Prospect, owned by TCB Racing and trained by Janet VanBebber, ranks as the favorite in the Grade 3, $40,400 Bayer Legend East Challenge for 3-year-olds at 400 yards on Friday night at Delta Downs.

The winner of the Grade 3 Cajun Kindergarten Futurity last year, Coronas Prospect started off his 3-year-old season by winning his East Challenge trial in 20.416 seconds for 400 yards, the fastest time from two trials held on April 11.

Last year, Corona Prospect won 4 of 6 starts and set the Delta Downs 350-yard track record of 17.556 seconds.

'Royaltime' seeks elusive stakes win

Royaltime Classic, second in three graded stakes, will try to get her first stakes win when she takes on fillies and mares in the Grade 3, $30,870 Ford New Mexico Challenge over 400 yards at The Downs at Albuquerque on Saturday afternoon.

The 4-year-old Royaltime Classic was second in this race last year. She was also second in last year's Grade 3 Casino Cash Derby and the 2001 Grade 2 American Airlines New Mexico Challenge.

Sign of Lanty retired

As expected, three-time distance champion Sign of Lanty has been officially retired after a career in which he won 16 stakes at Los Alamitos and set a track record at Lone Star Park. Sign of Lanty, now 9, won 28 of his 65 starts.

Sign of Lanty, trained by John Cooper, is owned by Rod and Jackie MacPherson, who also own Classic Sassy Chic.

Sign of Lanty made his final start in the Grade 1, $200,000 Marathon National on Dec. 15. he rallied to get up late and win the richest 870-yard race ever run.

"He's developed a bone growth in his left leg which gives him pain," Rod MacPherson said. "Fortunately, the growth can be removed and he will be fine after that. The horse has nothing left to prove so John and I agreed that it was time for Sign of Lanty to retire. As far as I'm concerned, he's the greatest 870-yard horse of all time."