08/27/2009 12:00AM

Top trio squares off in derby final

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Between them, A Tempting Dash, Foose, and Tres Passes dominated the 2008 futurities and early season derbys this year at Los Alamitos. It is only fitting that they meet for the first time in 2009 in Saturday's $250,000 Golden State Derby, the leading 3-year-old Quarter Horse race of the summer at Los Alamitos.

A Tempting Dash, the fastest qualifier from the Aug. 15 time trials, will be after his first stakes win since the Los Alamitos Winter Derby in February. Foose, second to A Tempting Dash in the time trials, is seeking to regain the form that led to a win in the Ed Burke Million Futurity in June 2008. Tres Passes, the third-fastest qualifier, was the dominant 2-year-old last fall, winning the Golden State Million and Los Alamitos Two Million futurities.

The last time those three met, Tres Passes and Foose finished first and second in the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity, with A Tempting Dash fifth.

Tres Passes is likely to be favored in Saturday's 440-yard final.

Owned by breeder Janet McKinnerney and trained by Blane Schvaneveldt, Tres Passes made his first start of 2009 in the Golden State Derby trials, winning the second of two divisions in 19.52 seconds. He won by a head over Alice K White, winner of the La Primera Del Ano Derby in April and a qualifier for the Golden State Derby.

Schvaneveldt was impressed by Tres Passes's trial win after the race was briefly delayed when a horse became upset at the gate.

"I was pleased with him," Schvaneveldt said. "He came back out of the race in good shape and he's ready. It's a tough derby. It's not an easy derby, for sure."

Tres Passes has won four consecutive races and 6 of 10 and $1,440,065 in his career, the highest earnings in the Golden State Derby field.

A Tempting Dash has not beaten Foose and Tres Passes but will be widely respected for Saturday's race on the basis of his 440-yard trial win in 19.34 seconds.

"I said it last year, and I'll say it again this year, all we want is for A Tempting Dash to be right there with the likes of Tres Passes and Foose," Ron VanAmburgh, a co-owner of A Tempting Dash said after the trials.

A Tempting Dash, trained by Jaime Gomez, is the rival that Schvaneveldt respects the most.

"Jaime's horse looks tough," he said. "He'll beat you whenever you fall asleep."

Foose finished a length behind A Tempting Dash in the trials and has drawn the outside post for Saturday's race.

"I like the 10 hole," trainer Paul Jones said. "I think he'll stay out of trouble and get a good clean race."