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Three berths to Champion of Champions up for grabs on Friday night


November 19, 2009     E-mail this page to a friend!

Three berths to the prestigious $750,000 Champion of Champions will be determined when a full field of 10 outstanding older horses gets together in Friday's $18,000 Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trial at Los Alamitos.

The top three finishers in the Z. Wayne Griffin will receive guaranteed berths to the Grade 1 440-yard classic to be held on Saturday, December 12. As it stands right now the connections of Refrigerator Handicap winner Streakin Cherry have yet to reveal their plans for the Champion of Champions. If Streakin Cherry declines his berth to the Champion of Champions then the fourth place finisher in the Z. Wayne Griffin will replace him in the sport's richest race for older horses.

Just like he did last season, Vessels Stallion Farm and Los Bustardos' champion Little Bit Of Baja will head this year's field to the Z. Wayne Griffin, which is scheduled as the 8th race on Friday night. Post time for the Z. Wayne Griffin is 9:48 p.m. In 2008 Little Bit Of Baja set a then 400-yard track record with a victory in the Z. Wayne Griffin. He would parlay that big effort into a second place finish to Jess You And I in last year's Champion of Champions. That was the second straight year that Little Bit Of Baja has been runner-up in the Champion of Champions.

To be ridden by Rodrigo Aceves and trained by Adan Farias, the now 5-year-old son of First Down Dash will start from post number one. He'll come into this race after running second to stablemate Fighter On Fire in the Grade 1 Bank of America Challenge Championship. There are two other runners in this year's Z. Wayne Griffin looking to get back to the Champion of Champions. Jose Santos' Frankie Shoots is one of them and he'll be making his first start since last year's Champion of Champions. He has been performing breeding duties at Texas Stud since then. He was sixth in last year's quarter mile classic.

The other runner looking for a return trip is the mare Stylish Jess Br, who has been outstanding this season with three wins from six starts. Racing for Benny Rosset, Stylish Jess Br finished seventh in last year's Champion of Champions. He was fifth when facing males in the Vessels Maturity earlier this year.

Owned by a partnership headed by Ed Allred and R.D. Hubbard, Masters Call is one of the other big time names in this race. The Hennesy horse is coming off an outstanding victory at 440 yards in the Farnam Stakes on Halloween Night, but this race features a stronger field and he'll have to be at his quickest out of the gate to help him make his usual strong finish in this race. Cody Jensen returns to riding Masters Call for the first time in seven races.

Eva Carrazco's JP Rhythm, Rancho El Alacran Inc's My Lady First, and Jose Antonio Flores' Hawk In The City have also enjoyed good years in the older horse division. Hawk In The City has quietly amassed a great resume so far, running second in the Restricted Grade 1 Spencer Childers Memorial Championship Handicap, second in the Grade 1 Go Man Go Handicap, and third in the Grade 1 Robert Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship. The First Down Dash mare My Lady First won the Matron Stakes and was second in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Championship and Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap. She also finished fourth against the boys in the Robert Boniface. JP Rhythm has been in the top five in the big races for older horses this year as well, running third in the Winter Championship and Vessels Maturity, fourth in the Go Man Go, and fifth in the Robert Boniface. Any of the three are more than capable of grabbing a Champion of Champions berth on Friday night.

The field will be completed by stablemates Bannow Bay and multiple stakes winner Answer The Dream, plus Jesus Huitron's Easy Dashin Sixes.