01/29/2017 6:20PM

Albuquerque race added to list of qualifiers for Champion of Champions


The winner of the $250,000 Albuquerque Fall Quarter Horse Championship this year will receive an automatic berth to the $600,000 Champion of Champions at Los Alamitos on Dec. 16, a first for the New Mexico race that was launched in 2015.

Over the weekend, Los Alamitos officials announced the qualifying format for the 440-yard Champion of Champions, the richest race for older Quarter Horses.

The winner of 10 stakes will receive automatic berths, including six races at Los Alamitos - the Los Alamitos Winter Championship on Feb. 17, Vessels Maturity on July 2, Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap for fillies and mares on Sept. 24, Robert Boniface Los Alamitos Championship on Oct. 15, Los Alamitos Super Derby on Nov. 12, and the winner of the Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trials on Nov. 19.

Outside of California, the winners of the Remington Park Championship in Oklahoma City on June 3, All American Derby at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico on Sept. 3, the Albuquerque Fall Championship, and Bank of America Challenge Championship at Prairie Meadows in Iowa on Oct. 14 will receive automatic berths.

:: Enjoy news and analysis from DRF? Get handicapping analysis, real-time coverage, special reports, and charts. Unlock access with DRF Plus.

The date of the Albuquerque race has not been announced.

Should a dead- heat occur in a qualifying race, a random shake will be conducted to determine the Champion of Champions qualifier. If another berth becomes available through a cancellation, the horse that loses the shake would receive a berth.

The $100,000 Go Man Go Handicap at Los Alamitos on Sept. 3 will serve as substitute qualifying race, as it has in past years. If a horse wins more than one qualifying race, or if a berth is declined, the winner of the Go Man Go Handicap will receive a berth as long as a dead heat does not occur in a qualifying race.

At least one berth will be available to the horse with the fastest qualifying time in the Z. Wayne Griffin Directors trials. It is possible that several berths will be available through the trials if a horse wins more than one qualifying race or if a horse that wins a race with an automatic berth is unable to run in the Champion of Champions.

In the 2016 Champion of Champions five of the 10 finalists qualified with wins in races that had automatic berths. The other five runners, including race winner Zoomin for Spuds, qualified through the Z. Wayne Griffin trials.