09/09/2009 12:00AM

Jess You and I makes first start since February


Jess You and I must overcome two obstacles to become the first horse in 40 years to win back-to-back runnings of the Grade 1, $100,000 Go Man Go Handicap on Friday at Los Alamitos: a layoff of six months, and a trio of starters from the red-hot stable of Paul Jones.

Jess You and I was the American Quarter Horse Association's champion aged gelding and champion older horse of 2008 for a campaign in which he won the Go Man Go and Grade 1 Champion of Champions. Friday, he will be making his first start since Feb. 21, when he was up for a head win in the Grade 1 Winter Championship at Los Alamitos.

"We gave him a break after the Winter Championship, took him to the farm and turned him out for three months," said Jaime Gomez, who trains Jess You and I for Double Bar S Ranch. "He's been here about 90 days. He's trained super good. I hope he's ready."

Alejandro Luna has the mount on Jess You and I, who is co-highweighted at 126 pounds with the Jones-trained Separate Bet. Jones, who last weekend won both the Grade 1 All American Futurity and Grade 1 All American Derby, will also start Trisk and Bannow Bay in the 400-yard Go Man Go.

Separate Bet was fifth in the Grade 1 Spencer Childers Memorial California Breeders Championship in his last start July 25, when he stumbled at the start of the 400-yard race at Los Alamitos. One race prior, he won the Grade 1 Remington Park Invitational Championship. Cody Jensen has the mount on Separate Bet.

Go Derussa Go is the last horse to win back-to-back runnings of the Go Man Go, in 1968-69.

The winner of the Go Man Go does not receive a guaranteed berth into the Grade 1, $750,000 Champion of Champions on Dec. 12, but would be invited if a horse holds a double berth, or if there is a defection of an invited horse. Jess You and I has already earned a berth into this year's Champion of Champions by virtue of his win in the Winter Championship.