06/20/2007 12:00AM

Jones has half the field in Vessels Maturity


The Grade 1, $147,200 Vessels Maturity, with half of the 10-horse field from the Paul Jones barn, starts an important weekend of racing Friday at Los Alamitos. The $1,130,000 Ed Burke Million will be run on Saturday night.

The Vessels Maturity winner receives a berth in the Grade 1, $1 million Champion of Champions on Dec. 8.

One horse in the 400-yard Maturity field, Volcom, has already earned a spot in the Champion of Champions by virtue of his victory in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Championship.

The Jones-trained Volcom made a late rally in the 400-yard Winter Championship to catch Spike It and Fly and win by a head. He was then rested until the Maturity trials and responded with a close second behind fastest qualifier Go Love a Lark Go, who was timed in 19.570 seconds. Volcom was credited with a time of 19.575.

"He shows up every time," Jones said of Volcom. "We backed off on him after the Winter Championship, so he was probably a little short in his trial. He should be ready for the finals."

Jones also sends out Dutch Schultz, the El Primero Del Ano Derby winner; First Wicked Lady, second in the All American Derby; Strength in Numbers, a three-time stakes winner; and Dicey Dee, third in the Kaweah Bar Handicap.

Go Love a Lark Go raced to two minor stakes wins and a third in the Katella Handicap before beating Volcom in their Maturity trial at 11-1.P

Carters Cartel back in Ed Burke

Kindergarten winner Carters Cartel tries to affirm his spot as the West Coast's leading juvenile when he comes into the Grade 1 Ed Burke Million as the fastest qualifier.

Carters Cartel won the Kindergarten at nearly 10-1 odds with a neck decision over Daddy Dasher, who did not run in the Ed Burke trials. Carters Cartel won his Ed Burke trial by 1 3/4 lengths in 17.420 seconds for 350 yards, the fastest time from 14 trials.

"He doesn't make any mistakes," said trainer Jaime Gomez.

Second-fastest qualifier Miss Kittys Bar Bet finished third in the Kindergarten as the 9-5 favorite after setting the fastest qualifying time. She won her Kindergarten trial by 1 3/4 lengths in 17.450.

"She got bumped in the Kindergarten," trainer Hector Hernandez said. "If she can break in the Ed Burke, she'll be right there."

Third-fastest qualifier Wicked Royal Cartel is making her first stakes appearance after winning each of her three starts, capped by her Ed Burke trial in 17.540.

"She's been getting better and better," said Jones, her trainer. "She has her work cut out, but she's done everything asked of her so far."

Czech N Out Ashley favored

Czech N Out Ashley will be favored to gain his fourth straight win when he heads the $40,000 Bayer Legend California Derby Challenge on Sunday night at Los Alamitos.

The gelding won two minor stakes before leading the qualifiers to the California Derby Challenge with a half-length win in 19.740 for 400 yards.