12/11/2008 12:00AM

Clean start essential for One Famous Eagle

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LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. - One Famous Eagle has only the slightest margin of error if he is to win Saturday's $750,000 Champion of Champions for older Quarter Horses at Los Alamitos. At least, that's from the perspective of jockey Saul Ramirez Jr.

"We need to be perfect or 99 percent," Ramirez said.

So far this year, One Famous Eagle has been that good, going unbeaten in five starts, including the Golden State Derby in August and the Los Alamitos Super Derby last month.

Those performances will make One Famous Eagle the favorite in a field of 10 in the Champion of Champions, which is run at 440 yards and annually plays a pivotal role in the voting for World Champion Running Quarter Horse, or Horse of the Year.

Owned by breeder Johnny Trotter of Hereford, Texas, and the Burnett Ranches of Guthrie, Texas, One Famous Eagle will be making the last start of his career before going to stud. He has won 7 of 10 starts and $1,334,953.

Trained by John Bassett, One Famous Eagle qualified for the Champion of Champions by winning the 400-yard Super Derby on Nov. 9, the third major stakes win of his career. The Champion of Champions will be One Famous Eagle's first race at 440 yards, but Ramirez is more concerned about the start. He needs One Famous Eagle to break well, and not lug to one side or the other in the first few strides. Precautions have been taken in recent weeks, with the colt being schooled at the gate.

"He's been leaving the gate good, and that's all we need," Ramirez said. "I don't think it will be a problem. I took him to the gate [Thursday] and he was playing around and feeling good."

One Famous Eagle's nine rivals include four horses trained by Paul Jones and two trained by Felipe Quintero. Little Bit of Baja, trained by Quintero, was second in the 2007 Champion of Champions. A 4-year-old gelding, he qualified to Saturday's race by winning a time trial on Nov. 21, beating fellow qualifier No Secrets Here by 1 1/2 lengths. No Secrets Here won the 2006 All American Futurity.

Both Little Bit of Baja and No Secrets Here are co-owned by Vessels Stallion Farm. Jones trains No Secrets Here, but said earlier this week that Noconi, the winner of the All American Derby at Ruidoso Downs in August, is his best chance.