02/20/2008 12:00AM

Farias has nine for two Grade 1 stakes


Trainer Adan Farias could have a career weekend when he saddles nine of the 20 horses entered in Friday's Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby and Saturday's Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Championship.

Although Farias won four Grade 1 stakes in 2007, never before has he had such strength in numbers. He has four horses in the $208,200 Winter Derby and half of the 10-horse field in the $237,800 Championship.

"It's amazing that we have that many horses in each race," Farias said. "I'm really proud of it."

Six-time defending national champion Paul Jones has four derby horses and three horses in the championship.

Farias's Winter Derby foursome is led by fastest qualifier My Lady First and Grade 1-placed Fighter on Fire.

The late-developing My Lady First ran a competitive fourth in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity at 16-1 odds and then dominated her Winter Derby trial. She raced the 400 yards in 19.530 seconds while winning by 2 1/2 lengths.

Fighter on Fire is a top stallion prospect, and a Grade 1 derby win would supplement his breeding credentials. He was second by a nose in the Grade 1 Golden State Million and a close second in his derby trial.

"Fighter on Fire was off for 70 days and we didn't want to push him in the trial; it was a prep race," said Farias.

Jones's four derby horses include second-fastest qualifier Answer the Dream. She won her third straight race when she defeated Fighter on Fire by a head.

Despite their number of starters, neither Farias nor Jones is a cinch to win the derby. The Roberto Ramirez-trained Magic Show Czech won the Governor's Cup Futurity and was third, beaten by a head, in the Los Alamitos Two Million.

Farias's five championship horses are led by the two fastest qualifiers, A Stoli Mate and Superstar Dash.

A Stoli Mate set the Los Alamitos 400-yard track record of 19.295 on Nov. 30 and then was a troubled second in the Grade 1 Southern California Derby. He set the fastest qualifying time of 19.605 in the second of three championship trials.

"He developed a hoof abscess about two weeks ago and it popped early this week," said Farias. "He's gone back to the track. It may be a good thing for him to have nine days off because he is so fit."

Superstar Dash, claimed for $8,000 13 months ago, has won his latest three races, including his trial by a half-length.

"We got lucky with him," Farias said. "He was immature when we got him, but he's a professional now. He's a horse that tries very, very hard in every race and he came out of the trial really, really good."

Jones has the proven stakes horses No Secrets Here, Trisk, and Frankie Shoots in the championship, which he has won 3 times in 7 runnings.

No Secrets Here, winner of the 2006 All American Futurity, was second by a nose in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Super Derby and easily won his Directors Trial. He was then scratched from the Grade 1 Champion of Champions after becoming cast in his stall the night before the race. In his championship trial, he made a bid halfway through the 400-yard race before finishing fifth with the ninth-fastest qualifying time.

Trisk, a brother to Champion of Champions winners Ocean Runaway and Wave Carver, won the Grade 1 Southern California Derby by a neck over A Stoli Mate.

Frankie Shoots won the Grade 2 PCQHRA Derby and was second behind Superstar Dash in their championship trial.

The winner of the Winter Championship receives the year's first invitation to the $1 million Champion of Champions on Dec. 13 at Los Alamitos.