12/09/2009 12:00AM

Tools of Fire will need another clean break in $2M


Tools of Fire got winning out of the way early on the night of Nov. 21. Then the waiting began.

The 2-year-old filly won the first of 12 trials for the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity for Quarter Horses, and then made partners Pat Guthrie and Billy Smith and trainer Mike Joiner wait to see where her winning time of 19.51 seconds for 400 yards would rank.

Tools of Fire wound up with the second-fastest of 10 qualifying times for Friday evening's final. She had done more than enough to earn a berth into the richest race run at Los Alamitos.

"You always wonder, How fast will they run tonight?" Joiner said on Tuesday, reflecting on trial night. "I was fairly confident there would not be 10 other horses run faster than that. I was pretty confident with a 19.51 that we had a chance to qualify."

Tools of Fire is not only in the final, but is a leading contender. Now, she must repeat that race and improve to some extent to beat competition such as fastest qualifier Apollitical Jess (19.45 seconds); Shining First Dash (19.71), who was second in the Golden State Million Futurity on Oct. 30; and Crystal Sola (19.73), the winner of two stakes in Oklahoma earlier this year.

Tools of Fire, one of five fillies in the Los Alamitos Two Million field, has won 3 of 7 starts and $50,625. The Los Alamitos Two Million will be her first futurity final since a seventh-place finish after a bad start in the Ed Burke Million Futurity at Los Alamitos in June.

Since then, Joiner has focused on improving her gate skills, and saw evidence of that in the Los Alamitos Two Million trials.

"She really stood up [in the gates] and really broke well," he said. "If she'll do that again, I think she's got a big chance to be right there."

Joiner, 53, is seeking the biggest win of his career. He won the 2006 Ed Burke Million Futurity with FDD Dynasty, who was second in the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity that year.

The Los Alamitos Two Million will be a test for Apollitical Jess. It will be his first futurity final and the first time he has returned after a three-week break.

"Time trials are one thing, but in the final, the best will win," said trainer Juan Aleman, 35. "He's never run three weeks back. He's always been a little short of qualifying. Finally, he got it done in a big fashion in the trials. He really ran a big race that night.

"Hopefully, he can throw another big one. He's a fresh horse, and that's a positive note for us."