06/16/2004 11:00PM

Be a Bono taking on elders in Childers

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The undefeated 3-year-old Be a Bono will take his first crack at older runners when he starts in the race named after his owner, the Grade 1, $159,250 Spencer Childers California Breeders Championship at Los Alamitos on Saturday. The race is part of the fifth annual California Champions night, with $875,500 in purses.

The other two Grade 1 races on the program are the $334,000 Governor's Cup Futurity and the $122,000 Governor's Cup Derby.

The 92-year-old Childers, who was inducted into the Racehorse Hall of Fame at Ruidoso Downs last Saturday, has one of his finest runners from 51 years as an owner with Be a Bono. A long-striding gelding, Be a Bono won the Grade 1 $864,850 Golden State Futurity last fall and then raced to his sixth win from six starts when he took the Grade 1, $200,000 Los Alamitos Winter Derby on Feb. 27.

Be a Bono was then rested at Childers' ranch in Fresno. He prepared for his return to competition with an 18-second drill for 350 yards, an excellent work for a horse who prefers a longer distance, as Be a Bono does.

"It's a step up in class, but we feel he can handle it," Childers said of his even-money morning-line favorite.

The Governor's Cup Futurity will be the stakes debut of the undefeated fastest-qualifier, Separate Secrets, a son of the 2000 champion 3-year-old filly, Secret Card. He raced to his third victory when he turned in a 17.665-second time winning his trial by a head over A Sisstar, an embryo-transfer full brother to the fourth-fastest qualifier, Creedence. Creedence will miss Saturday's Futurity with a leg injury.

Also qualifying for the Governor's Cup Futurity is Looking for Chicks, the fastest qualifier to the Grade 1 Kindergarten who was disqualified for interference in the Kindergarten finals after bearing out.

The Governor's Cup Derby features five qualifiers from the stable of leading trainer Paul Jones, headed by fastest qualifier Well I Never. He returned from a six-month layoff to win his trial in 19.885 seconds for the 400 yards and was the only horse in the two trials to break the 20-second barrier.

"He ran well," said Jones, "and that being his first race off the layoff; it should set him up well for the finals."

Jones will also send out Honor and Cherish, Awise Chick, Metallic Lion, and Therestischemistry.

There are three other notable stakes on the program:

In the $53,000 Matron Stakes for females, Enjoy the Moment comes off a win in the Miss Princess Handicap.

In the $26,250 Marathon at 870 yards, Bac in the Saddle looks to return to his winning ways after finishing third in the Jim Smith Handicap in his most recent start. He won a claiming race and two allowance races in his three starts before the Smith.

In the $27,450 Sprint Stakes at 350 yards, Jones will have Chicky Do Run Run, winner of 2 of 4 starts this year, and Sum Special Strawfly, winner of the 2003 El Primero Del Ano Derby.