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It was an emotional winner’s circle for longtime owner Rod MacPherson after his AJS Anna Smoke (left), a horse bred and previously owned by his late wife Anna, won the $387,500 Governor’s Cup Futurity on California Breeders Champions Night on Saturday at Los Alamitos.
“Anna would have enjoyed this so much,” said MacPherson. “I know she’s watching from above and loving this victory. If she was still with us she would have been here or watching the race at home on TV and would have been so happy with this win. I miss that she’s not here, but I know she’s watching us.”
MacPherson passed away on June 20 after a courageous battle against an illness and just one day after AJS Anna Smoke ran in the $1,100,000 Ed Burke Million Futurity. AJS Anna Smoke has not lost since that day, as the Separatist gelding won his Governor’s Cup Futurity trial in the fastest qualifying time before returning with this ½ length victory over Ed Burke Million runner-up Worth Doing. Ridden by Cesar De Alba, AJS Anna Smoke covered the 350 yards in :17.544 while improving his record to five wins in six starts. He earned $160,650 to take his lifetime earnings to $192,775.
“This horse knows how to win,” said MacPherson, who also won the Governor’s Cup Futurity with the great Separatist in 1999. “He reminds me a lot of Separatist in the way he behaves in the gate. Separatist was perhaps the best horse in the gate that’s ever been at this racetrack. He would go in the gate and his head would not move. You could not get him to move his head to one side or the other if you tried. He just wouldn’t move. This horse is like that. He’s very good in the gate just like his father.”
John Cooper saddled AJS Anna Smoke to give him his third victory in this race. He also saddled Aladuino to win the 1982 running as well as the aforementioned Separatist. Having already made six starts since April 2, AJS Anna Smoke will now be taking a break according to his owner. He’ll be back for the two major futurities held at Los Alamitos later in the year, the Golden State Million Futurity and the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity.
“I’m excited because I have a full (sibling) to AJS Anna Smoke and also a half-sister to him by Foose,” MacPherson added. “When we bought his mother, (the 7-year-old mare) Annas Babe, it was because of her potential as a broodmare. I think she’s going to be a great producer.”
Sired by A Regal Choice, Annas Babe is out of the talented mare Babe On The Fly. Annas Babe is a half-sister to Grade 1 winners Rock You and Little Talks. Her family traces back to the legendary Miss Princess.
Fawna Knight’s Worth Doing was solid from start to finish to earn $65,025 for his runner-up effort. Ridden by Tony Guymon, the Walk Thru Fire has now earned $255,450 in his career. Trained by Mark Skeen, he’s finished in the top two in all five of his lifetime outings.
Dutch Masters III and Jaime Gomez’s Smell Perfume, a full sister to multiple stakes winner Bac In Front, earned $45,900 for running third. Stelfast, A Bit Quirky, Up For Dashing, Myfavoritestreaker, Seared, American Force and Kiddy Up Cowgirl completed the field