11/29/2007 12:00AM

Taylor has stacked hand for Texas Futurity

EmailTrainer Heath Taylor has the numbers to win his first Texas Classic Futurity with six of the 10 qualifiers to the Grade 1, $1,069,297 race on Saturday night at Lone Star Park.

Heading Taylor's contingent in Texas's richest race are two-time Grade 1 futurity winner Swingin Jess, All American Futurity third-place finisher Captain Courage, and the undefeated Grade 2 futurity winner Coronas Leaving You.

Swingin Jess looks to return to his top form of early 2007 when he won the Grade 1 Manor Downs Futurity and the Grade 1 Retama Park Futurity. In his three well-spaced starts since the Retama Park Futurity in June, he has two wins and a second-place effort in futurity trials. Only his Texas Classic Futurity trial win was fast enough to qualify him for the finals.

Captain Courage, an elegantly bred son of leading sire Mr Jess Perry and broodmare of the year Corona Chick, lived up to his breeding with a competitive third-place effort in the Grade 1, $2 million All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs. He was defeated by two-time Grade 1 futurity winner Heartswideopen and longshot SF Royal Bank.

Coronas Leaving You may have only the 10th-fastest qualifying time but is dangerous with his 7-for-7 record and a win in the Firecracker Futurity at Delta Downs. Five of his seven wins have been by daylight and he easily won his Texas Classic Futurity trial by three-quarters of a length.

Fastest-qualifier Illegal Memories, trained by Doug McMullen, is one of the bargains of his generation. The $5,500 yearling purchase has earned $102,000, including a second in the Gradeo1 Dash for Cash Futurity as the favorite two starts ago. He then won his 400-yard Texas Classic Futurity trial in 19.706 seconds, the fastest time from nine trials.

"He doesn't have a strong pedigree," McMullen said, "but he can't read or write so he doesn't know how he's bred."

Second-fastest qualifier Pool has seven wins, including two stakes, from nine starts with a second in the Longhorn Futurity and a third in the Grade 1 Sam Houston Futurity. He won the Grade 2 TQHA Sires Futurity and the Grade 3 Texas Juvenile Challenge.

Hot team in Texas Derby

The combination of trainer Wes Giles and owners John Lee and Lincoln Sherwood have had a break-out year with their two-time Grade 1 futurity winner Wild Six, and the trio will send out the two fastest qualifiers to the Grade 1, $395,477 Texas Classic Derby on Saturday night at Lone Star Park.

Speed Transformed returned from a 15-month layoff to win a $24,900 allowance race at Zia Park and then stepped forward with a half-length win in his Texas Classic Derby trial. His 21.429-second time for 440 yards was the fastest from four well-stocked trials.

While Speed Transformed had been sidelined, one of his Saturday opponents, Gus the Greek, has been a Grade 1 derby performer. He raced to fourth-place finishes in the $504,000 All American Derby at Ruidoso Downs and the $139,110 West Texas Derby at Sunland Park. He won his Texas Classic Derby trial in 21.471 seconds.

Remember Me Rose, the fifth-fastest qualifier, has been a divisional leader since arriving in the United States from Mexico midway through her juvenile season. At 2, she won the $300,000 Southwest Juvenile Championship and the Grade 2 Juvenile Challenge Championship. In her first stakes appearance in the United States, she was second in the Grade 1, $625,000 Rainbow Futurity as the favorite.

This year, she fought to a game win in the Grade 1 Ruidoso Derby over fastest qualifier La Lalique, and returned from a three-month freshening to win her Texas Classic Derby trial.

Deep talent for Southwest Juvenile

A Streak Regard will face a deep field in the $305,000 Southwest Juvenile Championship on Sunday at Zia Park.

In the inaugural running of the 440-yard Southwest Juvenile last year, each of the 10 participants had won or placed in a Grade 1 futurity. Sunday's running will have 11 participants, with 10 of those competitors having won or placed in a Gradeo1 futurity.

A Streak Regard, a New Mexico-bred, makes his first stakes appearance against open company after winning the Grade 1 Zia Futurity and the Grade 2 New Mexico Breeders Futurity against statebreds. He has 5 wins and 3 seconds from 8 starts and comes into the Southwest Juvenile off two bullet works at Zia.

The fillies Check Cathy and Eye of Glory have had Grade 1 success against males.

Check Cathy won the Grade 1 Sam Houston Futurity and has won 4 of 6 starts.

Eye of Glory was second in the Grade 1 Ruidoso Futurity and prepared for the Southwest Juvenile with a sharp allowance win over 250 yards at Lone Star on Nov. 16.

Jones shoots for 35th stakes of year

Five-time defending national champion trainer Paul Jones, who won 38 stakes in 2006, has a solid chance to sent out his 35th stakes winner this year in the Grade 2, $55,150 Las Damas Handicap on Saturday night at Los Alamitos.

Jones's primary chance comes with Blazin Fire, the defending Las Damas winner who is coming off a win in the Grade 1 Distaff Challenge Championship. The Distaff Challenge win was her third win in her latest four starts.

Jones will also saddle Mia Jones, winner of three minor stakes this year, and Charger Bar Handicap runner-up Corona Crystal.