Having worked as an assistant to his father John for years, trainer Joe Bassett has been around his share of quality quarter horses.
Now, he has one of his own.
Joe Bassett, 22, will have an opportunity to win his first Grade I Saturday at Los Alamitos when he saddles Blues Girl Too, the 8-5 favorite on Ed Burgart's morning line, in the $1,142,000 Ed Burke Million Futurity.
A 2-year-old daughter of Corona Cartel owned by Russell and Lisa Stooks' Lucky Seven Ranch, Blues Girl Too is unbeaten in two starts and was the fastest qualifier for the Burke, run at 350 yards.
In her one-length trial victory June 10, Blues Girl Too and regular rider Saul Ramirez Jr. came within .02 of a second of the track record for 350 yards set by Corona Chick on Oct. 16, 1991, when she won in 17.24 seconds. Her clocking was also within .01 of Higher Fire's time when he won the 2005 Burke.
"She's doing really well," said the young Bassett, who went out on his own about a year ago and has a stable of 15 horses. "She came out of her win in the trial in really good shape."
A full sister of The Blues Girl, who gave Joe Bassett his first stakes win last year, Blues Girl Too demonstrated her ability in her May 19 debut. She won by 2 1/2 lengths and had the fastest time of the meet for 300 yards.
"She's really precocious," John Bassett said after the trial win. "She's got a great mind. She's just a special filly."
Joe Bassett said he would be nervous but confident Saturday as he seeks the most important win of his young career.
"She's always shown she can run," he said. "I'm just hoping she can get away from there clean and she has always been a really good gate. When we ran her the first time and she came away from those horses the way she did, you could tell she was something special.
"I'm very grateful to my dad. He's taught me everything I know and I'm still learning from him now."
Father will outgun son in starters in the Burke. John Bassett had two qualifiers, First Down Morn and Ten Oclock Scholar.
Owned by Ed Allred and Ron Shalz, First Down Morn, a son of First Down Dash, finished second in the first trial, beaten by half a length by Fdd Dynasty. Still, that was enough to make the $195,000 yearling purchase the third fastest qualifier. He was clocked in 17.295 seconds.
Ten Oclock Scholar, a Bono Jazz gelding, qualified in 17.51 seconds, winning the eighth of 15 trials.
"He's just getting better and better," John Bassett said of Ten Oclock Scholar, owned by Allred and Tom Seibly. "Education is a great thing. I think when we start running this horse at 400 yards, he is really going to shine. He wants to go a little further."
The Burke field is completed by No Secret Here, The One I Am, Corona Deluxe and the Jaime Gomez-trained trio of Corona Couture, Tac It Like A Man, and El Arizona Kid.