09/01/2010 4:24PM

Jones has full plate on holiday weekend


Over the next few days, trainer Paul Jones will inspect about 300 sale yearlings, run horses in the $1.54 million All American Derby on Sunday, the $2 million All American Futurity on Monday, and try to accommodate all the people who only "need five minutes."

Such is the life of the nation's leading Quarter Horse trainer on Labor Day weekend at Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico. "It's hell week," Jones said of all the activity.

At some point, Jones, 44, will reflect on events in Southern California last weekend, when Good Reason Sa confirmed his status as a top 3-year-old with a victory in the $262,500 Golden State Derby at Los Alamitos.

Good Reason Sa won the Golden State Derby in his second start of the year, and his first stakes appearance since a win in the $2 million Los Alamitos Million Futurity last December. The win gave Jones hope that Good Reason Sa is good enough for a start in the $750,000 Champion of Champions, the nation's top race for older horses, at Los Alamitos in December.

First, though, is the $1.5 million Los Alamitos Super Derby in November. "If we could win that, we could have a horse for the Champion of Champions," Jones said.

In Saturday's Golden State Derby, Good Reason Sa, the 4-5 favorite, won the 400-yard Grade 1 race by a neck over Princelike. Ridden by Cody Jensen, Good Reason Sa trailed by a half-length midway through the race and closed well, finishing in 19.38 seconds.

"It seemed like he was doing well at the start, but he wasn't going anywhere," Jensen said. "He was struggling a little bit, but then he started overpowering the horses."

Owned by Gianna Samaja, Good Reason Sa has won 5 of 6 starts and $926,595. The colt is by the Thoroughbred Favorite Trick, the 1997 Horse of the Year. Favorite Trick was bred to Quarter Horses for several years before his death in a barn fire in New Mexico in 2006.

Good Reason Sa could go to stud as early as next year, Jones said. "I'm excited about his career as a stallion," Jones said. "He's a good outcross to [leading stallion] First Down Dash. He's something the industry really needs."

Jones arrived in Ruidoso on Tuesday to begin preparations for this weekend's major stakes. He starts Favorite Cartel in the All American Derby and JD Baccarat in the All American Futurity. While a win by either would be an upset, the stable began a hectic week with a sharp win from Good Reason Sa.

"This makes it better," Jones said.