12/13/2001 12:00AM

Tres Seis one to beat in Million

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LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. - The 400-yard distance of Saturday's $1,256,600 Los Alamitos Million Futurity is all that separates Tres Seis from the championship for 2-year-old Quarter Horses.

A winner of 5 of 7 starts, Tres Seis was second in the All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs on Sept. 3 and a convincing winner of the Golden State Futurity at Los Alamitos on Nov. 3. With those credentials, another victory in an important race such as the Los Alamitos Million would significantly enhance Tres Seis's chances of a year-end title.

"He is one of the toughest horses I've ever run," trainer John Bassett said. "He overcomes obstacles that other horses can't. We don't have many problems with him. He's a bulldog, and he wants to win."

Tres Seis will be favored in the Los Alamitos Million, which is annually the second-richest Quarter Horse race behind the All American. Owned by Gwendolyn Eaves of Midland, Texas, Tres Seis is unbeaten in three starts since the All American, but Bassett admits the colt cannot make any mistakes in the Million.

"He got left in the trials of the Million, but he overcame that real fast," Bassett said. "He'd never been in trouble like that. Sometimes when that happens, they will throw in the towel, but he's tough mentally and physically. It makes a difference when they have an iron constitution, and they're fast."

The 10-runner field of five fillies, three colts, and two geldings was determined by time trials on Nov. 30. Bassett led all trainers with four qualifiers, including Royaltime Classic, the fastest qualifier in 19.80 seconds, and First Thoughts, a winner of a trial who placed in three stakes in New Mexico and Texas earlier this year. Another top contender is the filly Your First Moon, who beat males in the Governor's Cup Futurity at Los Alamitos on July 14.

Tres Seis will be ridden by Joe Badilla Jr., who broke his jaw in a riding accident last week. He will only ride in the Million and the $500,000 Champion of Champions on Sunday, Bassett said.

"I quit worrying about him," Bassett of Badilla. "He's on the ground constantly - broken toe, broken jaw. I said, 'I'll just meet you in the paddock.' He's very durable. He's kind of like Tres Seis."