02/05/2007 1:00AM

Champion of Champions at $1M

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The Champion of Champions, the top race for older Quarter Horses, will have a $1 million purse this year and an altered qualifying format, Los Alamitos racecourse officials announced on Saturday.

The Champion of Champions, which had a purse of $600,000 last year, will be run over 440 yards on Dec. 15.

This year, for the first time, an automatic berth will be given to the winner of the $250,000 Mildred Vessels Handicap on Sept. 28, the nation's richest Quarter Horse race for females.

Automatic berths this year will also be available to the winner of four other major stakes at Los Alamitos: the Winter Championship on Feb. 24, the Vessels Maturity on June 22, the MBNA America Challenge Championship on Nov. 3, and the Los Alamitos Super Derby on Nov. 10.

The other races offering berths are the Remington Park Championship on June 3, All American Derby at Ruidoso Downs on Sept. 2, and the Refrigerator Handicap at Lone Star Park in the fall.

For the first time, a race has been designated as a secondary qualifying race. The winner of the Go Man Go Handicap at Los Alamitos on Sept. 15 will be extended an invitation only if a horse wins any two of the other qualifying races.