Noconi Fastest in Winter Championship Trials

Noconi joins fellow champion Jess You And I in strong field for final.

January 30, 2012

All-time greats Noconi and Jess You And I and rising stars Senor Toby and Dash Back Perry won their respective trials to the Grade 1, $226,050 Los Alamitos Winter Championship on Sunday night and will now be part of what’s looking like one of the most exciting runnings in the event’s history to be held on Sunday, February 19.

The winner of the Winter Championship will earn the first of 10 automatic starting berths to this year’s $750,000 Champions of Champions (G1) and it will take a monster effort to come out of the race on top. R.D. Hubbard and Johnny T.L. Jones’ Noconi set the pace on trial night, as he was spectacular in winning his trial by three-quarter lengths over Dr. Steve Burns’ Walkin Bac. Noconi posted the fastest qualifying time of :19.685 for 400 yards in what was his first start at Los Alamitos Race Course since finishing fifth to Jess You And I in the 2007 Champion of Champions. Trained by Paul Jones and ridden by Ramon Sanchez, Noconi was outstanding in victory, as he broke sharply and ran powerfully to record his 14th win in 31 starts. Noconi earned $3,300 for his trial win to take his career earnings to $1,278,833. A New Mexico legend, the 7-year-old son of Mr Jess Perry was the 2008 champion 3-year-old gelding and the 2010 champion aged horse.

Jones also saddled Double Bar S Ranch’s Jess You And I to another outstanding victory at the Orange County track. With Sanchez in the irons, Jess You And I broke a bit slow before taking off in the second half of the race to record a winning time of :19.736, which was the third-fastest time of the night. The son of Feature Mr Jess, a three-time champion, posted a half-length victory over Parsons Rock. Jess You And I has now won 19 of 36 starts and earned $1,810,627 in his remarkable career.

“He’s pure class,” Jones said. “He didn’t get the best of breaks because Ramon said his head was pushed next to the gate when it opened. He’s all racehorse and an amazing athlete. He’s an 8-year-old that’s still qualifying to Grade 1 races and he’s still good enough to beat any horse out there. He might be eight, but he doesn’t know how old he is. He’s a sound horse and very healthy and he still loves what he does. When we take him out for training, he takes the jockey for a ride just like a young horse would. It’s safe to say that he’s one of the best horses ever to run here at Los Alamitos. I think if you were to make a list of top 10 of all-time, he’d have to be on that list. If he keeps going like he’s going, he can break some records. It’s a trainer’s dream to have a horse like this one.”

According to his connections, Jess You And I will be retired in 2012, but if before then he runs more races like his Winter Championship trial effort, he could make history. Jess You And I can challenge the all-time records in career earnings held by Stolis Winner of $2,235,161 and also Dash For Speed and Refrigerator’s all-time record of 10 Grade 1 wins.

“I wanted to retire him after last year’s Champion of Champions, but Rhonda (List) and Paul Jones wanted to run in 2012,” said Dawn List of Double Bar S Ranch. “He has a chance to break some records and that’s why we brought him back.”

Which record does Dawn want to see him break?

“All of them,” she said as eyes widened.

“We all love this horse so much and he’s a legend in our book already. Ramon said that that he got out a little slow, but that once he got going the turbos kicked in. We’re going to enjoy each race he gives us and we have a place at the ranch waiting for him at the end of the year.”

The two greats Noconi and Jess You And I will be joined by the hottest male horse and hottest female on the grounds in the form of the gelding Senor Toby and mare Dash Back Perry in the Winter Championship finale. Owned by Brad Lohr and Daniel Reynoso, Senor Toby scored his seventh win in a row in his trial, while Johnny Trotter’s Dash Back Perry posted her third straight win. Trained by Jaime Gomez and ridden by Oscar Peinado, Senor Toby held off a very game BF Farm Boy by a half-length to extend the longest winning streak at Los Alamitos since champion Snowbound Superstar won 11 in a row here from February 2006 through September 2009. Senor Toby’s trial win also came against the likes of 2011 Champion of Champions runner-up Sparky E Boy and two-time Grade 1 winner Snitcher.

“It was a pretty close, but fantastic race,” said Lohr. “I can’t believe what this horse has done and we’re just so excited to see him qualify to the Winter Championship.”

“This was the toughest race he’s been in and I thought this group was the hardest trial of the night,” Reynoso said. “He broke better tonight than the other times, but in the middle of the race he wasn’t pulling away like he has done before. These were tough horses. One of our goals was to make a Grade 1 race with him, so it’s a great thing to see him do that tonight. We’ll rest him after the Winter Championship final no matter if he wins or loses. He’s in the Vessels Maturity later in the year.”

Trained by Joe Bassett, Dash Back Perry scored her third victory in a row following a hard-fought head victory over Grade 1 Southern California Derby winner El Aguila Real. The mare by Mr Jess Perry previously conquered the Grade 2 Charger Bar Handicap and the Grade 3 Las Damas Handicap. Saul Ramirez Jr. has been on the saddle all three of her wins.

The complete list of qualifiers is as follows; Noconi (:19.685), Senor Toby (:19.710), Jess You And I (:19.736), Dash Back Perry (:19.75), BF Farm Boy (:19.759), El Aguila Real (:19.759), Walkin Bac (:19.811), Parsons Rock (:19.814), Feature Honor (:19.826) and Sparky E Boy (:19.843).