Less than a month ago, owner R.D. Hubbard announced his intention to sell his quarter horse stock and enter the thoroughbred business.
But Hubbard, who knows a good deal--and a good horse--when he sees one, just couldn't pass up an opportunity to add another top filly to his quarter horse stable. So, on the eve of the Los Alamitos Derby trials last week, Hubbard purchased a 50% interest in 3-year-old Prissy Fein, for $125,000.
"People think I'm getting out of the quarter horse business," Hubbard said. "But when I see a chance to purchase an exceptional horse, I'll do it."
Hubbard's purchase of Prissy Fein sets up an interesting rivalry between tonight's two favorites in the $100,000-added Los Alamitos Derby at Los Alamitos Race Course. Sixy Chick, a favorite with Prissy Fein, happens to be one of Hubbard's former fillies. Hubbard had purchased Sixy Chick as a yearling, but sold the 1984 champion-2-year-old filly in March to S. David Plummer for more than $1.1 million.
"Hubbard likes to play chess," said Russell Harris, who trains Prissy Fein. "That is the main reason he bought half of this horse after selling Sixy Chick. When Sixy Chick beat Prissy Fein in the Town Policy Handicap here a couple of weeks ago, he said he saw something special in this horse and said that if any animal could beat Sixy Chick, it would be Prissy Fein. He has a good eye for horses and he just might be right."
If the Derby trials are any indication, Hubbard was definitely right. Prissy Fein's trial time of 21:53 seconds bested Sgt. Pepper Feature's 1981 Derby record of 21.56. If she can repeat that performance tonight against a high-caliber field that includes Sixy Chick and Easy Austin, this 440-yard contest could prove to be the race of the Los Alamitos summer meeting.
Prissy Fein has won 6 of 10 starts. She scored her first major stakes victory in the $66,000 National Stakes Derby at Manor Downs, Tex. In four starts this year, Prissy Fein has three wins and a second. Her second-place finish was to Sixy Chick in the Town Policy Handicap earlier this month.
In eight starts, Sixy Chick has lost only once, finishing second to the 1984 champion 2-year-old Eastex in last summer's Dash For Cash Futurity. Sixy Chick scored a big victory in the 1984 Faberge Futurity and set a stakes record in the Town Policy Handicap with a time of 17.61. She has career earnings of $598,000.
Easy Austin, the only horse to defeat the heralded Eastex twice, should also be one of tonight's top challengers. The 3-year-old gelding had the second fastest qualifying time in the trials with a 21:69 mark. In 17 starts, Easy Austin has never finished out of the money, with only one third-place finish to his record. With more than $620,000 in career earnings, Easy Austin is the richest horse in tonight's race.
Rounding out the field in tonight's race are: Loose Powder, Chicago Flash, Bet I Can, Shawns Pawn, Ima Ten Also, Texas Hurrah and Win Apollo.
Win Apollo is another horse to watch. Undefeated in five starts, Win Apollo upset Easy Austin in November's Cypress Handicap before undergoing knee surgery and taking a six-month rest. Although Win Apollo's previous victories have been in 350-yard races, the gelding easily won his Derby trial, which was his first 440-yard contest.
"At first he didn't look like much," trainer Lee Roy Heidelberg said, "but after a while, we had him out running with one of my top mares, Rebagain, and Win Apollo just took off. I knew we had something then."