06/29/2006 12:00AM

Taylor poised to take two at Delta


Trainer Heath Taylor is in position to sweep both Grade 2 stakes Sunday at Delta Downs with eight qualifiers, including the fastest qualifier to each race.

First Tea Rose is the fastest qualifier to the $266,350 Firecracker Futurity and has won 2 of 3 starts. She raced to the fastest qualifying time of 17.739 seconds for 350 yards when she won her trial by three-quarters of a length.

Also representing Taylor in the futurity are Southern La Jolla, Grey Diego, City Class, and My First Passion. Southern La Jolla and Grey Diego each won his maiden in the trials, while City Class and My First Passion are still maidens after finishing second in their trials.

Make a Secret, winner of last year's Firecracker Futurity, heads Taylor's three qualifiers for the $111,150 Firecracker Derby after setting the fastest qualifying time with a three-quarter-length trial win in 19.839 seconds for 400 yards. Make a Secret was the fastest qualifier to the Grade 1, $1.9 million All American Futurity, finishing fourth as part of the favored entry.

Taylor's other derby qualifiers are Holland Hollywood, runner-up in the the 2005 Firecracker Futurity, and Firecracker Futurity sixth-place finisher St Pats First.

Texas twosome at Los Alamitos

Texas Trio, winner of two straight allowance races, and Grade 1 winner Texas Chatterbox meet over 300 yards in the $32,500 Independence Day Handicap on Saturday night at Los Alamitos.

Texas Trio is stepping up in class after winning conditioned allowance races in his two 2006 starts after not racing in 2005. The odds-on favorite in each race, Texas Trio won at 300 yards in a quick 15.35 seconds and then retained his speed with a 17.40-second win at 350 yards.

Texas Chatterbox is facing male competition after racing to her most important wins against fillies and mares at Los Alamitos in the Grade 1 Challenge Distaff Championship and the Charger Bar Handicap.

Deep field at Ruidoso

A Long Goodbye, winner of three stakes at Sunland Park this year, heads a deep field of older horses in the Grade 3, $40,000 Higheasterjet Handicap at Ruidoso Downs on Saturday afternoon.

A Long Goodbye earned a $100,000 bonus for sweeping the KHEY Handicap, West Texas Maturity, and the New Mexico Challenge. In 2005, he won the New Mexico Challenge in a world-record time of 20.68 seconds for 440 yards.

Meeting A Long Goodbye are Grade 1 winners Planet Holland, Fast Talkin Val, and By By JJ.

Hammes holds all the aces

Trainer John Hammes has the upper hand in the $95,690 Cherry Creek Futurity and $53,725 Lucille Rowe Derby on Saturday afternoon at Arapahoe Park.

Hammes has four of the 10 horses in the 330-yard futurity (race 8), including fastest qualifiers Mekita (16.925 seconds) and Right Bac to Ya (17.011).

Danika had the best time of 17.676 seconds for Hammes in the 350-yard derby trials and is the pick in the derby.

'Smarty' seeks third straight win

First Class Smarty should be favored in the Grade 3, $63,675 Northlands Futurity on Sunday at Canterbury Park after racing to daylight wins in his latest two starts.

First Class Smarty won the first of three trials with the fastest qualifying time of 17.912 seconds for 350 yards. He won his maiden two starts ago by four lengths.

- additional reporting by Larry Hejna