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America Challenge Comes to Los Alamitos

With five Grade 1 races on the 13-race program Saturday, the event shapes up as a quarter horse version of the Breeders' Cup.

October 31, 2003|Bob Mieszerski | Times Staff Writer

Los Alamitos on Saturday will play host to what some might consider quarter horse racing's answer to the Breeders' Cup.

As part of the MBNA America Racing Challenge, there will be five Grade 1 events on the 13-race program.

During the year, horses have qualified in 10 regions throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Winners of regional finals in six different divisions qualified for the Challenge Championships.

The richest of the Grade 1's is the $300,000 America Challenge Championship, a 440-yard race for older horses. Catchmeinyourdreams, who won the Los Alamitos Championship in his most recent start Sept. 27, is the 6-5 favorite on the morning line.

Owned by Kirk Goodfellow and trained by Christopher O'Dell, the 4-year-old Pritzi Dash gelding will be ridden by Cody Jensen and break from post nine in the field of 10. He earned his berth in the race by defeating reigning co-world champion Whosleavingwho at odds of 25-1 in the California Challenge Championship earlier this year.

"This will be the first time he's been the favorite at Los Alamitos, so that's a little bit of pressure," O'Dell said. "Zookie Street and Kates Driver will be tough and Kendall Jackson is awfully fast. They'll all be tough in this race. I don't know if we deserve to be 6-5."

A 4-year-old gelding bred in Kansas, Kates Driver qualified by winning the Oklahoma Challenge Championship at Remington Park on July 18. He got a feel for the Los Alamitos track with a one-length allowance victory Oct. 11.

"I told [trainer] Pat [Swan] before the race I wanted to be next to Catchmeinyourdreams or in post position No. 8," jockey Tomey Swan said. "We got to have both. I guess if you want something, all you have to do is ask."

Zookie Street won the Texas Challenge Championship at Sam Houston on July 12; Kendall Jackson qualified in New Mexico in April.

In the Los Alamitos Championship last month, Zookie Street, who is owned by Michael Taylor, finished fourth, 1 3/4 lengths behind Catchmeinyourdreams.

"He's going to be ready," said Heath Taylor, Zookie Street's trainer. "He got here on Tuesday, then ran in the Los Alamitos Championship on Saturday. We've had plenty of time to prepare for this."

The other top races on the program are the $175,000 Derby Challenge for 3-year-olds at 400 yards, the $100,000 Distance Challenge for older horses at 870 yards, the $150,000 Juvenile Challenge for 2-year-olds at 300 yards and the $100,000 Distaff Challenge for older fillies and mares at 400 yards.

In the Juvenile, Metallic Lion will try to turn the tables on Willie Works in their first meeting since the California Juvenile Challenge on Aug. 29.

Trained by Blane Schvaneveldt for a partnership, Willie Works, a Utah-bred gelding, was 9-1 when he surprised Metallic Lion by three-quarters of a length the last time they met. He has won four of seven and will be ridden by Rodrigo Aceves.

In the Derby, Movin Meter, a Meter Me Gone filly owned and bred in Washington by Brenda Hoover, will try for her fourth victory in a row and 11th in 16 starts.

Royaltime Classic heads the field in the Distaff, with Available Credit, Harbor Beach and Sterling Sport among the main contenders in the Distance.

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