10/21/2003 11:00PM

AB What a Runner, still undefeated, aims for derby


AB What a Runner - undefeated, a champion, and a millionaire - will be an overwhelming choice to advance to the finals of the Grade 1, $250,000-estimated Los Alamitos Derby when she runs in the 400-yard trials at Los Alamitos on Saturday night.

The 10 fastest qualifiers from the trials go on to the Nov. 8 finals.

Owned by Dennie and Kris Hill, AB What a Runner was last year's champion 2-year-old. She won the $1.9 million All American Futurity and turned in the all-time fastest quarter-mile by a juvenile, 20.993 seconds, while winning her All American Futurity trial.

AB What a Runner is trained by Bret Vickery and is perfect in seven career starts. She has shown determination in each of her two stakes victories, winning each race by a slim, diminishing margin. A daughter of Royal Quick Dash, AB What a Runner held off champion Eye Opening Episode to win the All American Futurity, and in her most recent race she prevailed over New Mexico Challenge winner Royaltime Classic to take the Grade 1, $110,200 Mildred Vessels Handicap by a nose.

AB What a Runner's gameness is backed by sheer speed. Her Futurity trial win also set the Ruidoso Downs track record, and when she returned to the mountain track this summer, she won her seasonal debut - a 350-yard allowance race - in a track-record 17.057 seconds.

Mongoose Jet Eye, owned by Maria De Jesus Angulo, also comes into the Los Alamitos Derby trials with a string of quick times.

Trained by Adan Farias, Mongoose Jet Eye is riding a three-race winning streak since finishing second to Magic and Rhythm, winner of the Grade 1 Governor's Cup Derby, in the La Pacifica Handicap on March 22.

Since that defeat, Mongoose Jet Eye has won the Grade 3 Town Policy Handicap in 17.288 seconds for 350 yards, a 400-yard allowance race in 19.635 seconds, and the 220-yard Pomona Express Handicap in 11.800 seconds - all exceptional times.

Haywood loaded in Ohio

Trainer Vann Haywood is primed for an excellent Friday afternoon at Beulah Park in Columbus, Ohio, with the fastest qualifiers to the $72,126 Congress Futurity, $25,491 Congress Derby, and $22,941 Congress Maturity.

The stakes, all Grade 3 races, are held in conjunction with the All American Quarter Horse Congress, the world's largest Quarter Horse show.

Empress Kate, who finished sixth in the Valley Junction Futurity at Prairie Meadows, is Haywood's fastest qualifier to the Congress Futurity, with a trial win in 20.221 seconds for the 400 yards.

Nipeminthebud, runner-up in last year's Congress Futurity, topped the derby qualifiers with a 22.075-second trial win at 440 yards. Haywood will also send out A Royal Symphony, winner of the Altoona Derby at Prairie Meadows, in the Congress Derby.

Jess Like Magic, winner of the Grade 3 Windy City Dash at Arlington Park, topped the maturity qualifiers with a 21.878-second time for the 440 yards. He should be the strong favorite, backed by five wins from seven 2003 starts.

Gone Celebrating in Chevy Handicap

Gone Celebrating, the 126-pound highweight, is after his fourth straight win in the Grade 3, $25,000 Classic Chevrolet Heartbeat of America Handicap for Texas-breds at Lone Star Park on Saturday night.

Trained by John Buchanan and owned by Bobby Cox, Gone Celebrating is riding a three-race winning streak, all stakes races. He won the $25,000 Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame Stakes at Retama Park, then went to Sam Houston Race Park to capture the Grade 3, $40,000 Classic Chevrolet Stakes and the Grade 2, $50,000 Sam Houston Classic.