12/09/2010 3:47PM

Freaky in for tough fight in Champion of Champions


LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. – Freaky has been the dominant older horse in Quarter Horse racing for the last 18 months, but even his trainer, Adan Farias, wonders if that status is under threat in Saturday’s $750,000 Champion of Champions at Los Alamitos.

When post positions for the 440-yard race were determined on Wednesday, in a two-tier format, trainer Juan Aleman had the second choice, and picked the rail for the improving 3-year-old Apollitical Jess. Farias had the eighth selection with Freaky and chose post 3, the closest available draw to Apollitical Jess, who is exceptionally quick from the start.

“I wanted to get right by that horse,” Farias said. “I think he’s the horse to beat.”

Freaky and Apollitical Jess will dominate the betting in the Champion of Champions, which annually plays a pivotal role in the voting for World Champion Quarter Horse. The race features 10 starters who earned berths by winning major stakes through the year or qualified in the Nov. 21 time trials open to horses that had won or placed in stakes through 2010.

Freaky has won 3 of 4 starts this year and earned a berth to the Champion of Champions by winning the Los Alamitos Winter Championship in February. Owned by Armando Aguirre of Surprise, Ariz., Freaky finished second to Champion of Champions finalist A Tempting Dash in the Go Man Go Handicap in his comeback on Sept. 10, but rebounded to score a convincing win in the Los Alamitos Championship over 440 yards on Oct. 16 after a poor start.

“I knew the first time [after the layoff] he needed the race,” Farias said. “This is the toughest race that Freaky has ever run in. If we get beat, it’s because it’s by a faster horse.”

Freaky, 5, is attempting to become the first two-time winner of the Champion of Champions since SLM Big Daddy (1997-98) and the fifth repeat winner in history. The others are Dash for Cash (1976-77), Refrigerator (1992-94), and Tailor Fit (1999, 2001).

Apollitical Jess, who races for Juan Alberto Tirado Lizarraga of Mazatlan, Mexico, is one of three 3-year-olds in the field. Apollitical Jess qualified for the Champion of Champions with a win in the Los Alamitos Super Derby on Nov. 6.

“If he gets out like he can get out, he’ll be dangerous,” Aleman said. “He’s the fastest-closing horse on these grounds in the last 220 yards. He’s had some bad luck in the big races and he’s starting to figure it out.”