01/19/2005 1:00AM

Be a Bono world champ in squeaker

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The 3-year-old Be a Bono was named the 2004 world champion Quarter Horse after a runoff against 2-year-old Ocean Runaway, giving Be a Bono's 93-year-old owner Spencer Childers his first world champion after over 50 years of breeding and racing Quarter Horses.

The champions were determined by a vote of 25 horsemen and media members, and announced on Wednesday night in Oklahoma City.

Be a Bono, who was also named champion 3-year-old gelding, prevailed in two runoff elections on his way to being named world champion. Runoff elections are held when a horse does not obtain 50 percent of the original vote and Be a Bono did not receive a majority of votes in the original balloting for champion 3-year-old or world champion.

In the balloting for champion 3-year-old, Be a Bono received 12 votes, Brimmerton, the champion 3-year-old colt, received 10 votes, and two other horses received votes. Be a Bono won the champion 3-year-old runoff election by a 15-10 margin over Brimmerton.

The voting rules stipulate that the world champion is determined among the champion 2-year-old, champion 3-year-old, and aged champions. Brimmerton received nine world-champion votes in the original balloting, but became ineligible for world champion consideration when he lost the champion 3-year-old runoff.

Therefore, the final three horses eligible for world champion consideration were champion 2-year-old Ocean Runaway, Be a Bono, and champion aged horse and aged mare Mongoose Jet Eye. The world champion runoff was between the top two vote-getting eligible horses - Be a Bono and Ocean Runaway - and Be a Bono won the world champion runoff election by a 14-11 margin.

Be a Bono, Ocean Runaway, and Mongoose Jet Eye are all based at Los Alamitos in Southern California.

Be a Bono earned his world championship with a win over older horses in the Grade 1 stakes named after his owner, the Spencer Childers California Breeders Championship, and wins over divisional rivals in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby and the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Super Derby. He was also second, by a nose, in the Grade 1 Champion of Champions behind Cash for Kas, the 2004 champion 3-year-old filly.

Trainer Dan Francisco gave Be a Bono two four-month layoffs in 2004 and the gelding responded with four wins and two second-place finishes from six starts.

Childers purchased his first champion, Black Easter Bunny, after she was named 1952 champion 3-year-old filly. Following her retirement she produced 1961 co-champion 2-year-old filly Bunny's Bar Maid, who appears on both the top and bottom sides of Be a Bono's pedigree. Childers also bred and raced 1979 champion 3-year-old filly Pacific Dream and 1996 champion 2-year-old gelding Uncas.

Ocean Runaway, who is owned by Gary and Cindy Muller, was also voted champion 2-year-old colt. He came close to becoming the first juvenile since Merganser in 1988 to be voted world champion. Ocean Runaway improved as 2004 progressed and secured his 2-year-old championship with late-season victories in the Grade 1, $1 million Golden State Million and the Grade 1, $1,481,424 Los Alamitos Million. Those two victories accounted for $987,060 of his $1,158,104 in earnings. He also won the Grade 1 Governor's Cup Futurity.

In the other 3-year-old divisions, Champion of Champions winner Cash for Kas was named champion 3-year-old filly.

In the remaining 2-year-old divisions, Los Alamitos Million runner-up Hardly Hateful was named champion 2-year-old filly, and All American Futurity winner DM Shicago was the unanimous choice for champion 2-year-old gelding.

Mongoose Jet Eye earned her championship in the aged division with wins over males in the Grade 1 Championship at Sunland Park and the Grade 1 Vessels Maturity. Los Alamitos Championship winner Catchmeinyourdreams was named the champion aged gelding for the second consecutive year. Los Alamitos Winter Championship winner Buccaneer Beach was named the champion aged stallion.

Run and Pray, who made each of his five 2004 starts at Sam Houston Race Park, was named the champion distance horse after wins in the Grade 1 MD Barns Distance Challenge Championship and the Grade 3 Texas Challenge Championship.

Paul Jones won the champion trainer title for the third consecutive year with a record-setting 283 wins, including 34 stakes wins, in 2004.

G.R. Carter Jr. was honored as the champion jockey for the second straight year on the strength of 169 wins, including 19 in stakes.

Bobby Cox, Brimmerton's owner, was named champion owner.

Lucas Racing Inc., breeders of Ocean Runaway and Cash for Kas, was named champion breeder.