07/27/2004 11:00PM

Valors Gold goes for three in a row

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Valors Gold, the Texas Challenge Championship winner, looks for his third straight victory when he heads the $40,000 TQHA Classic Stakes, the main event of three stakes for Texas-breds during the Texas Showdown at Sam Houston Race Park on Friday night.

Valors Gold won the Grade 1 Texas Challenge in his most recent start when he defeated multiple stakes winner Gone Celebrating by one length. He won his trial to the Texas Classic by 1 1/4 lengths over multiple derby winner Frostys Money Man.

Turfinator goes for his third victory in the last four runnings of the Grade 3, $40,000 Barnmaster Sprint Stakes at the abbreviated distance of 250 yards. The 8-year-old gelding scored his most recent victory three starts ago, when he won an allowance race at the Barnmaster distance.

Gotabenuts will offer a strong challenge after setting the Delta Downs 250-yard track record of 13.044 seconds when he won the Delta Dash on April 11, his most recent start at the distance.

In the Grade 3, $40,000 TQHA 550 Stakes, trainer John Buchanan has the three-horse entry of Red Dog Leader, winner of the Humble Stakes; Run and Pray, winner of the MD Barns Distance Challenge; and Sing and Pray, runner-up in the Greenspoint Stakes.

The Texas Quarter Horse Association Yearling Sale, held annually as part of the Texas Showdown, will go on as planned Friday and Saturday. A storm blew over the sale's tent on July 22, putting the event in jeopardy, but a new tent was secured to shelter the record 390 yearlings consigned.

Willoughby tries to change luck

Trainer Scott Willoughby will attempt to reverse the misfortune that cost him a spot in the Grade 1 Governor's Cup Futurity with the strong pair of Heza Secret Diamond and Lindas Dasher in the Grade 1, $400,000 Ed Burke Memorial Futurity at Los Alamitos on Saturday night.

Willoughby left the track shaking his head with disappointment after Governor's Cup Futurity trials on June 4, when Heza Secret Diamond won his trial with a time quick enough to be in the $334,000 finals on June 19, but was disqualified, placed seventh for interference, and stripped of his qualifying time.

Either Heza Secret Diamond or the fastest qualifier, Lindas Dasher, could give their trainer a smile with the Ed Burke Futurity win.

Heza Secret Diamond showed seasoned form in his fourth career start when he drew out to win his Ed Burke trial by 1 1/4 lengths in 17.62 seconds. He appears to have learned his lessons after having trouble leaving the gate in a straight line in his first three starts.

Over the past two months, Lindas Dasher has shown she is one of the most important 2-year-olds at Los Alamitos. In her three starts over that span she has two trial wins and a second-place finish in the Grade 1 Governor's Cup Futurity.

Lindas Dasher won her Governor's Cup Futurity trial by three-quarters of a length over Ocean Runaway, but Lindas Dasher was no match for Ocean Runaway in the finals, with Ocean Runaway racing to a 1 1/4-length victory.

Lindas Dasher came back in the Ed Burke trials to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Senior Solo, who also qualified for the Ed Burke finals. Lindas Dasher's winning time of 17.35 seconds for the 350 yards was the fastest time from the 57 juveniles in the seven trials on July 17.

Record-setter in Zia Derby

Track record-setter Miranda Fame heads the Grade 3, $94,000 Zia Derby for New Mexico-breds on Sunday afternoon at Ruidoso Downs.

Miranda Fame raced 400 yards in 19.278 seconds to win her derby trial and set the track record, which was then lowered to 19.209 seconds when Thewayyouwantmetoo won last Sunday's Grade 1 Rainbow Futurity.

Also on the card is the Grade 3, $315,000 Zia Futurity, with the fastest qualifier, Jackspots, meeting Win Mir, who is riding a three-race winning streak that includes the $203,000 Ruidoso Sale Futurity.