11/05/2009 12:00AM

Foose still improving for Super Derby


There are not eight seven-figure races in Southern California on Saturday. There are nine.

On Saturday evening, hours after the completion of the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita, the $1 million Los Alamitos Super Derby for 3-year-old Quarter Horses will be run about 35 miles away. The Super Derby is the first seven-figure derby for Quarter Horses since the 1983 All American Derby at Ruidoso Downs.

Saturday's race has drawn a field befitting a big purse. Foose, the champion 2-year-old colt of 2008, is the fastest qualifier and will be favored. Trained by co-owner and breeder Paul Jones, Foose will be after the automatic berth to the $750,000 Champion of Champions on Dec. 12 awarded to the winner of the Super Derby. The Champion of Champions annually plays a pivotal role in the World Championship voting.

Jones, who co-owns Foose with Los Alamitos track owner Ed Allred, said the colt is rounding into form at an ideal time this fall. Foose has yet to win a major stakes this year but was a game second to the filly Alice K White in the Golden State Derby on Aug. 29.

"A couple of more jumps, and he would have won that race," Jones said. "He's starting to get better as time goes on."

Jones was encouraged when Foose returned to win a division of the 400-yard Super Derby time trials in 19.51 seconds on Oct. 16. The trial win puts Foose on course to win his first major stakes since the Ed Burke Million Futurity at Los Alamitos in June 2008. He was later second in the Golden State Million and Los Alamitos Two Million futurities last fall, placings that helped him secure the championship.

"He's pretty good at whatever distance we put him at," Jones said. "I think he can go 300. I think he can go 400. I don't know about 440 yet. He's pretty versatile."

Foose must beat the Jones-trained Fantastic Corona Jr, the runner-up in the All American Derby at Ruidoso Downs on Sept. 6. Fantastic Corona Jr won a division of the Super Derby trials in 19.54 seconds, finishing a nose in front of Jessanotheraffair, winner of the Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Racing Association Breeders' Derby last month.

"Maybe this year he's running better in back-to-back races," Jones said of Fantastic Corona Jr after his trial win.

Tres Passes, who beat Foose in the Golden State and Los Alamitos Two Million futurities last year, is after his first stakes win of the year. He was third behind Jessanotheraffair in the Super Derby time trials.