02/17/2011 5:25PM

Jess You and I, Freaky facing off at Los Alamitos

Los Alamitos
Freaky, Francisco Rubio up, wins the Champion of Champions.

Consider Saturday’s $214,550 Los Alamitos Winter Championship to be the rubber match between Jess You and I and Freaky, the winners of the last two runnings of the Grade 1 race.

One of those two geldings is expected to prevail in a field of 10, and assume the role of nation’s leading older Quarter Horse.

Between them, Freaky and Jess You and I have won five championship titles in their careers, 29 races, two of the last three runnings of the Champion of Champions, and have earned $2,514,265.

Both sides expect a victory, with good reason.

Jess You and I, the 2006 champion 2-year-old gelding and 2008 aged gelding and aged horse for Double Bar S Ranch, set the fastest qualifying time for the Winter Championship of 19.34 seconds in the 400-yard trials on Jan. 16, ending a three-race losing streak dating back to the Remington Park Championship last May.

One of those losses was a fourth in the Champion of Champions on Dec. 11, behind Apollitical Jess, the 2010 World Champion who is now retired.

The recent trial win confirmed to trainer Paul Jones that the 7-year-old Jess You and I, who won the 2008 Champion of Champions, remains competitive at high levels.

“He’s already proven it the way he ran in the trials,” Jones said. “If he runs the race he ran in the trials and Freaky runs his race, I think I can beat him.”

Freaky, owned by Armando Aguirre, won his division of the trials in 19.38 seconds, his first start since a troubled sixth in the Champion of Champions when he emerged with a cut on a leg that required stitches.

His win in the 2010 Winter Championship came against Jess You and I, who finished third. Freaky had just one further stakes win in 2010. In 2009, as a 4-year-old, he won four major stakes, including the Champion of Champions and was named World Champion and champion aged gelding.

Freaky’s recent trial win showed trainer Adan Farias and owner Armando Aguirre that the minor injury was not an issue.

“I was concerned about that because he came back from having stitches,” Farias said.

The one concern for Jones this weekend is potential wet weather.

“I don’t know how he’ll handle it,” he said of Jess You and I.

Let it pour, Farias said. “He won the Champion of Champions on a wet track,” he said.