12/23/2004 12:00AM

Cash for Kas in Championship bid


Cash for Kas, winner of the Champion of Champions, will make a final week bid for the 2004 Quarter Horse world champion's title when she starts in the Grade 1, $400,000 The Championship at Sunland Park on Sunday afternoon. Also on the card is the $161,254 Riley Allison Futurity for 2-year-old Thoroughbreds.

The 3-year-old Cash for Kas joined the world champion prospects when she raced to a narrow victory - at 21-1 - in the Grade 1, $500,000 Champion of Champions on Dec. 11 at Los Alamitos. A victory in The Championship should secure the title as top 3-year-old and would set up a hard decision for overall world-champion voters in a year when multiple horses have records worthy of consideration. Other contenders include the leading juveniles Ocean Runaway and Azoom, two-time Grade 1 derby winner Brimmerton, and two-time Grade 1-winning 5-year-old Catchmeinyourdreams.

Before the Champion of Champions, Cash for Kas was a solid Grade 1-class filly for leading trainer Paul Jones, with a win in the Denim N Diamonds Handicap and a second-place finish in the Grade 1 All American Derby behind Brimmerton. In the Champion of Champions, she defeated the West Coast's top 3-year-old, Be a Bono, by a nose, with Mongoose Jet Eye, an entrant in The Championship, another nose back in third place.

A victory in The Championship would enhance Jones's record-setting 2004 season. The Los Alamitos-based two-time champion trainer established a new record for victories in a year when he won his 281st race of the year last Sunday night at Los Alamitos.

Mongoose Jet Eye, SLM Snowman, and Silent Overdrive also raced in the Champion of Champions and shipped to Sunland Park for The Championship.

Mongoose Jet Eye, the close third-place finisher in the Champion of Champions, has a win this year over males in the Grade 1 Vessels Maturity at The Championship's distance of 400 yards.

Silent Overdrive won three straight stakes races, including the Grade 1 Refrigerator Handicap, before finishing seventh in the Champion of Champions. He made two starts at Sunland Park earlier this year, but was defeated by The Championship participant Push the Pace in each race.

SLM Snowman won his first five starts this year, including an impressive 1 3/4-length victory in the Grade 1, $300,000 MBNA America Challenge Championship on Nov. 6. After that victory he was sent off at 5-2 in the Champion of Champions but finished in eighth place after being squeezed at the start and losing all chance to win.

The Sunland Park-based Push the Pace, winner of the Grade 1 New Mexico Challenge Championship, heads the local runners in The Championship. He was the 5-2 favorite in the Challenge Championship, his most recent start on Nov. 6, but was eliminated by a bump at the start.

* If Jones does not get a record-extending win with 2004 Champion of Champions winner Cash for Kas at Sunland Park, he could add another victory to his record when he sends out the 2003 Champion of Champions winner, The Down Side, in the $26,850 Holiday Handicap at Los Alamitos on Sunday night. The Sunday program starts another marathon Los Alamitos season that will last for 51 weeks.