01/06/2005 12:00AM

Ab What a Runner launches comeback


Two-time Quarter Horse champion Ab What a Runner will make her first start since Sept. 25 in the Grade 1, $137,550 Charger Bar Handicap on Saturday night at Los Alamitos

Ab What a Runner, a Grade 1 winner in each of her three years of competition, is returning to action after a hoof injury sustained during the Mildred Vessels Handicap, where she finished last of 10. The 5-year-old Ab What a Runner has trained well for the 400-yard Charger Bar with a solid 18.30-second work at 350 yards on Dec. 21 and then a sharp 220-yard turn and work between races last Saturday night at Los Alamitos.

Aside from her last race, Ab What a Runner has been the definition of consistency for trainer Bret Vickery with 11 wins in 15 starts and earnings of $1,342,280 while facing the strongest Grade 1 company.

As a 2-year-old, she won the $2 million All American Futurity on her way to being named champion 2-year-old. At 3, she defeated older mares in the Grade 1 Mildred Vessels and beat males in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Derby, and was chosen the champion 3-year-old filly. Last year, she won the Charger Bar by a half-length as the 3-5 favorite.

There is Grade 1 depth in Saturday's Charger Bar, but none of Ab What a Runner's rivals has her career credentials.

Prima LD could be dangerous after finishing first or second in all four of her 2004 starts at Los Alamitos. She also won the Grade 1 Challenge Derby Championship in 2003 over at Los Alamitos in her United States debut after winning five straight races in Mexico City. Last year, she won the California Distaff Challenge at Los Alamitos and then finished a close second in the Grade 1 Challenge Distaff Championship at Sam Houston Race Park as the 1-5 favorite.

The top three finishers from the Naples Handicap are rematched in the Charger Bar. Mini Rock caught Enjoy the Moment at the wire for a nose win, while Classic Sassy Chic finished a troubled third after winning two straight allowance races.

Enjoy the Moment's rider, Eddie Garcia, has a shot to become the track's all-time leader in stakes wins. Garcia is tied with Kenny Hart at 133.

In September, Mini Rock defeated Prima LD by a head in the Vessels. Mini Rock also has a second-place finish in the California Distaff Challenge and a third in the Las Damas Handicap in her last four starts.

Mini Rock has been a consistent mare for all-time leading Los Alamitos trainer Blane Schvaneveldt, finishing on the board in her last 10 starts.

Enjoy the Moment defeated Mini Rock in the Las Damas before her near-miss in the Naples.