02/02/2011 4:11PM

Jess You and I fastest qualifier, but will need to improve in finals

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The 7-year-old gelding Jess You and I was hardly acting his age last weekend.

In Saturday’s trials for the $214,550 Los Alamitos Winter Championship, Jess You and I set the fastest qualifying time for the 400-yard final on Feb. 19, showing he is still capable of adding to a remarkable career of 16 wins in 31 starts and earnings of $1,646,271.

The trial win, accomplished in 19.34 seconds, was Jess You and I’s first victory since the 2010 Remington Park Championship last May. Dawn List, whose family’s Double Bar S Ranch owns the gelding, thinks the easy part is behind Jess You and I in the Winter Championship series. “In the finals, he’ll really have to come on,” List said.

With wins in more than half his starts, Jess You and I has been a model of consistency through his career. He was the 2006 champion aged gelding, and the champion aged horse of 2008, the year he won the Champion of Champions. In 2009, he won his second Go Man Go Handicap.

Jess You and I was trained by Jaime Gomez until last spring and then by Toby Keeton until early fall. When Jess You and I returned to Los Alamitos before the Champion of Champions, he was sent to leading trainer Paul Jones. Jess You and I finished fourth in the Champion of Champions in December. Gomez still trains for Double Bar S, List said.

“We kind of think that racing goes up and down,” she said. “We were in a dry spell with Jaime. Jaime is most definitely still our trainer. He’ll get some babies this year. It’s nothing against Jaime.”

Last winter, Jess You and I won a division of the Winter Championship trials, but was only third behind Freaky in the final. Freaky won a division of Saturday’s trials, and may go favored in the final later this month.

Jess You and I may be Double Bar S’s top racehorse this year. In recent years, the farm’s emphasis has shifted away from standing stallions, following the death of Strawfly Special, and toward racing and the sale of homebred yearlings. The ranch will have nine 2-year-olds this year.

“We love it more than ever now,” List said of operating the farm. “It’s a joy to go to work. A lot of the headaches are gone without the breeding operation.”