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For Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trialists, it’s “Win and You’re In”

November 20, 2008     E-mail this page to a friend!

One Famous Eagle and Saul Ramirez, Jr., win the $314K Golden State Derby on August 30, 2008.
(photo by Scott Martinez, courtesy of Los Alamitos Race Course)
By Orlando Gutierrez, Los Alamitos Race Course

Win and you’re in. It’s as easy as that when it comes to the final guaranteed spot to the $750,000 Champion of Champions in Friday’s only Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trial. The winner of this 400-yard race will join the likes of Los Alamitos Super Derby winner One Famous Eagle, Los Alamitos Invitational Championship winner Ten Oclock Scholar and All American Derby winner Noconi in this year’s 440-yard Champion of Champions to be held on December 13.

Earning the Z. Wayne Griffin berth sounds easy in theory but in reality there is nothing easy about it. The winner will have to defeat an outstanding nine-horse lineup that includes a pair of AQHA champions, an All American Futurity winner, a Los Alamitos Million Futurity winner, a Rainbow Derby winner, plus a slew of other superb performers. Horses that have qualified thanks to the Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trial have done well in the big race over the year, as the list includes 2005 Champion of Champions winner Ocean Runaway.

From the rail out, 2007 Rainbow Derby winner Separate Bet is one to watch, as he exits a powerful allowance victory in his last start. Trained by Paul Jones, Separate Bet has won five of nine starts in his career, and his earnings of more than $400,000 ranks highly from among the horses in this race. Standing next to Separate Bet in the starting gate will be 2007 Los Alamitos Super Derby winner Little Bit Of Baja as he looks to earn a return ticket to the Champion of Champions. The First Down Dash gelding ran second to Blues Girl Too in last year’s Champion of Champions on the way to being named the nation’s top 3-year-old gelding. He has not been as fortunate this season, finishing a game third after a slow break in the Go Man Go Handicap and eighth when eliminated at the start of the Los Alamitos Championship.

Rodrigo Aceves retains the mount aboard Little Bit Of Baja. Trainer Jaime Gomez has horses in posts three and four in Go Man Go Handicap winner Jess You And I, a champion in 2006, and multiple Grade 1 stakes placed runner Strong Hope.

Veteran pilot Eddie Garcia will ride Dicey Dee, who ran a solid fourth in the Los Alamitos Championship, from post five with the improving sophomore First To Reach the only three-year-old in this field starting in post six.

The outside three horses are Value The Man, winner of the Los Alamitos Million Futurity in 2005 and most recently an impressive runner-up in the Los Alamitos Championship for trainer Paul Jones, in post seven, Sir Runaway Dash, a full brother to Champion of Champions winners Ocean Runaway and Wave Carver, in post eight, and the talented and rich No Secrets Here, the All American Futurity winner in 2006, in post nine. Owned by Benny Rosset and Vessels Stallion Farm, No Secrets Here qualified to the Champion of Champions after winning a Z. Wayne Griffin trial but a stall accident prevented him from running in the Champion of Champions. He is now hoping for a second Champion of Champions chance. In his career, No Secrets Here has won over $1.6 million but he’s yet to win a race this year. He did run second in the Los Alamitos Winter Championship and Go Man Go Handicap.