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Freaky vs. Jess You And I in Saturday’s Championship

October 8, 2009     E-mail this page to a friend!

It's the king of the Champion of Champions vs. the deliverer of track records. It's the track's fastest horse ever at 400 and 350 yards vs. the track's fastest horse ever at 440 yards. It's the winner of this year's Los Alamitos Winter Championship and Go Man Go Handicap vs. the winner of this year's Vessels Maturity and Spencer Childers Memorial California Breeders Championship Handicap. It's the nation's #1 ranked older horse vs. the nation's #2 ranked older horse—or perhaps more indicative of their talents it is #1 vs. #1A.

Simply put, it’s Jess You And I vs. Freaky. Some might say it’s Freaky vs. Jess You And I. Who should get top billing? It's a tough question to answer, but by the end of Saturday's $150,000 Robert Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship, the answer could be clear as to which horse will get top billing in this year's prestigious Champion of Champions.

In Jess You And I and Freaky you have the aged division’s two biggest stars and they’ll finally get together in a match up that has been boiling over since Jess You And I’s repeat Go Man Go Handicap win in mid-July. For a couple of weeks one was left to wonder if Jess You And I, who like Freaky had already qualified to this year's Champion of Champions, would instead sit back, relax and wait until the December Champion of Champions.

History says that Jess You And I runs best fresh. The son of Feature Mr Jess remained at Los Alamitos Race Course and was then spotted going to the starting gate to do a little bit of homework. He was on the preliminary list of invites to the Los Alamitos Invitational Championship. He was ready for action against the best. Making the race perhaps more enticing to Jess You And I's connections—owners Double Bar S Ranch and trainer Jaime Gomez—is the fact that the Los Alamitos Invitational Championship is held as the sport's classic 440-yard distance. It is a distance that made Jess You And I ultra famous, as he won last year's Champion of Champions in a track record of :21.94, making him the first horse ever to run a sub-:22 quarter mile at the racetrack that the Vessels family built. It is also a distance that Freaky has never tried before—even in what has so far been an all-conquering campaign. Jess You And I is not the type of horse to shy away from the challenge and neither are his connections, so sure enough “Jessie” as the horse is sometimes affectingly called is ready to meet the Freaky lightning bolt.

It's hard to give an edge to either horse. Jess You And I is a year older, a year stronger and a year smarter. Owned by Armando Aguirre, Freaky is a speeding trained disguised as a body builder, a jaw-dropping flyer, who has been out of this world in his last three starts. A track record at 400 yards in a May trial to the Vessels Maturity was followed by an even faster track record performance in the 400-yard Vessels Maturity final. The victory earned Freaky a spot in this year's Champion of Champions and kicked off a great summer for the TR Dasher gelding. The feather on his summer cap came in the form of another great victory, this time in the Spencer Childers Memorial on California Breeders Champions Night on July 25. Freaky's three starts at 400 yards this year have resulted in the three fastest times ever at Los Alamitos at that distance. Add to that the fact that he also owns the track record at 350 yards and his portfolio looks worthy of his number one ranking in the AQHA/HorsePlayerPRO national Top 10 poll.

The numbers and stats are fun to look at, but Quarter Horse racing fans around the world will be hoping to witness a racing classic to rival those posted by Wave Carver and Be A Bono in the 2006 Champion of Champions, Denim N Diamonds vs. Sgt Pepper Feature in the Champion of Champions of the early 1980s, or Griswold vs. Valiant Pete in the match race at Santa Anita in the early 1990s.

While Jess You And I vs. Freaky will get headlines, there are eight other standouts looking to earn the automatic berth to this year's Champion of Champions that comes along with winning this race. The only horse in this field with two victories at 440 yards this year is the First Down Dash horse Fighter On Fire. The Rancho El Alacran-owned runner won both his trial and final of the Bank of America California Championship at the demanding quarter mile distance. He won his trial by only a head but then poured it on when winning the Bank of America final by a length. If he wins a third race at 440 yards and goes on to the Champion of Champions, Fighter On Fire will be in the mix for year-end championship honors.

The rest of the field is loaded with credentials. A Mere Splash ran second in the Vessels Maturity to Freaky and second to Jess You And I in the Go Man Go Handicap. He should love the extra 40 yards offered in the Los Alamitos Invitational Championship. Hawk In The City was second in the Spencer Childers to Freaky and dead-heated with A Mere Splash for second in the Vessels. You can't count him out. My Lady First was second to Jess You And I in the Los Alamitos Winter Championship, second to Terrific Energy in the Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap and won the California Breeders Matron Stakes. Plus, how many times have she posted a sensational trial effort? She could get it done.

Jess You And I's stablemate is Head Bud, another quarter mile distance lover. He twice ran second to First Moonflash at the autobahn that is Sunland Park both times running ridiculous sub-:22 times. And then there's JP Rhythm, a fourth in the Winter Championship, Vessels Maturity and Go Man Go Handicap. With that in mind how can one leave him out of the Superfecta in the Los Alamitos Championship?

Time For A Royal Dip and Go Straight have both been tremendous at 550 yards in the past, so the 440-yard distance will not bother them. The key for their hopes of winning will be their ability to stay close to the fast flyers during the first 220 yards of this race.

Here's hoping for a race for the ages.