11/17/2005 12:00AM

Champions berth may lure 'Runaway' to Directors trials


Ocean Runaway, who ran second as the 1-5 favorite in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Super Derby last Saturday, may try to earn a spot in the Grade 1, $500,000 Champion of Champions if he runs in one of the two Grade 3 Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trials on Saturday at Los Alamitos.

Ocean Runaway would be returning on just a week's rest if he runs in the Directors, although his trainer, Denny Ekins, said he may be scratched.

The horses with the five fastest times in the Directors trials will be invited to participate in the Champion of Champions, a 440-yard race to be run Dec. 10. The winner of the Grade 1, $100,000 Refrigerator Handicap at Lone Star Park on Nov. 25 will also receive a Champion of Champions invitation. If the connections of that horse decline the invitation, then the horse with the sixth-fastest time in the Directors will receive an invitation.

The last two winners of the Champion of Champions, Cash for Kas and The Down Side, came out of the Directors Trials.

If Ocean Runaway qualifies for the Champion of Champions, he would be running two 400-yard races and a 440-yard race in a span of five weeks.

"We're still talking over what we're going to do with Ocean Runaway," said Ekins. "We had to enter him, otherwise we can't run in the trials. We still have the option of running him in the Southern California Derby," he said, referring to the trials on Dec. 2. "We really want to be in the Champion of Champions."

The 2004 champion 2-year-old, Ocean Runaway had an eight-race winning streak snapped when he failed to run down Apollitical Time in the Los Alamitos Super Derby. His streak included wins in the Grade 1 Golden State Million, Grade 1 Los Alamitos Million, and the Grade 2 PCQHRA Derby. Last summer he was second to DM Shicago in the Grade 1 Rainbow Derby, one of three second-place finishes at Ruidoso Downs.

Ocean Runaway is in the second trial.

Trainer Paul Jones will have his usual strong contingent in the Directors, headed by Cash for Kas, who won last year's Champion of Champions, Latest Version, and Texas Chatterbox.

Cash for Kas did not make her 2005 debut until the Las Damas Handicap on Oct. 14, finishing fourth, and has not started since that effort. She won the 2004 Champion of Champions by a nose over world champion Be a Bono, finishing the race in 21.18 seconds. Cash for Kas is in the first trial.

Latest Version comes off a second behind Catchmeinyourdreams in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Champion-ship. A 30-1 outsider in that race, Latest Version burst to the early lead, but was unable to hold off Catchmeinyourdreams, who received a Champion of Champions invitation awarded to the winner of the Los Alamitos Championship.

Texas Chatterbox made a surprising Los Alamitos debut when she defeated 3-5 favorite Mini Rock to win the Grade 1 John Deere Distaff Challenge Championship on Nov. 5. It was her fourth win in six starts with her previous five appearances at Sam Houston Race Park and Louisiana Downs.

Latest Version and Texas Chatterbox both run in the second trial Saturday.

LDS Dash for Dylan, who runs in the first trial, comes off a nose victory in the Grade 1, $175,000 Bayer Legend Derby Challenge Championship, in which he ran 400 yards in 19.52. The win was LDS Dash for Dylan's third straight in a stakes. He previously won the Bayer Legend Northwest Derby Challenge and the Old Habits Handicap.

Run and Pray at Lone Star

Off a win in the Red River Handicap, defending champion distance horse Run and Pray heads the Grade 3, $20,000 Lone Star Distance Championship on Saturday night.

Run and Pray scored his first 2005 victory when he rallied to win the Red River by 1 1/4 lengths as the 9-5 favorite. Last year, he secured his championship title with a win in the Grade 1 Distance Challenge Championship.