02/16/2005 1:00AM

'Honor' working her way back up


Honor and Cherish, runner-up in the Grade 1 Governor's Cup Derby, takes a step toward returning to the Grade 1 ranks when she heads a field of fillies and mares in the $18,000 Easy Date Handicap over 400 yards at Los Alamitos on Friday night.

Trained by Paul Jones, Honor and Cherish will be making her second start since returning from a seven-month layoff. Before her rest, she was among the top 3-year-old fillies at Los Alamitos, with a third-place finish in the Grade 1 La Primera Del Ano Derby and a second-place finish behind two-time Grade 1 derby winner Not for Long in the Grade 1 Governor's Cup Derby, her final start before her layoff. In the Governor's Cup Derby, Honor and Cherish raced with Not for Long before giving way in the final strides to be defeated by a half-length.

Honor and Cherish returned from her layoff Jan. 14 in a filly-mare allowance race at Los Alamitos and was sent off as the odds-on favorite on the strength of her class and a sharp 350-yard work in 18.20 seconds. She was never in contention, however, and finished fourth.

Jones will saddle four of the six mares in the Easy Date. He also sends out the consistent allowance mare Corona Fria, who has a win and three close second-place finishes in her last four starts; Carols Treasure; and Follow This Chick, who has won at the $25,000 claiming level.

Trainer Donna McArthur has the other two entrants. Corona Cerveza is coming off an allowance win Jan. 13, and Oh So Susie was narrowly defeated in a Feb. 5 allowance race.

Super Bowl winner returns

Super Bowl Handicap winner Gold Medal Jess should be able to handle his fellow 3-year-olds in the $18,000 Belmont Shore Handicap at Los Alamitos on Saturday night.

The main question is whether Gold Medal Jess is quick enough for the 350-yard distance of the Belmont Shore after winning the Super Bowl Handicap at 550 yards in his most recent start Jan. 22. He has shown a liking for longer distances and won the Super Bowl with a late run as the 3-2 favorite. Gold Medal Jess won his maiden at 350 yards, however, in a quick 17.35 seconds on July 31 at Ruidoso Downs.

Flyn GT has the past class to be dangerous in the Belmont Shore, with a second in the Grade 1 Ed Burke Futurity and a third in the Grade 1 Governor's Cup Futurity. He has not qualified for a futurity or derby from four trial appearances since the Ed Burke Futurity July 31.