10/10/2007 11:00PM

Jones quartet looks strong at Los Alamitos

EmailPerennial champion trainer Paul Jones is accustomed to having multiple horses in major stakes races, but his four-horse contingent in the Grade 1, $200,000 Los Alamitos Championship on Saturday night may be among his all-time strongest.

The five-time defending national training champion sends out champions Strawkins and Leading Spirit and stakes winners Ketel Won and Strength in Numbers among the 10 horses in the 440-yard stakes.

Strawkins, the 2006 champion 3-year-old gelding, comes off a win in the Grade 2 Bank of America California Challenge Championship. The Los Alamitos Championship is his second start off an eight-month layoff.

"He came out really well and is probably better now than he was then," Jones said.

Leading Spirit was the 2005 champion 2-year-old gelding and a disappointment at 3 in 2006 when he was winless in two non-stakes starts. He comes off an impressive second-place effort in the Grade 1 Go Man Go Invitational, where 2006 champion 2-year-old colt Fdd Dynasty beat him by a nose.

"He didn't break well and made up a lot of ground," Jones said.

Ketel Won was the top older horse at Ruidoso Downs during the summer when he won the Grade 3 All American Gold Cup and the Grade 3 Higheasterjet Handicap by daylight margins. He impressed in the Gold Cup when he won by more than two lengths in 21.20 seconds for the 440 yards.

Strength in Numbers also enjoys longer distances and comes off a third in the Grade 1, $250,000 Mildred Vessels Handicap for distaffers.

"She's a closer who will like the 440 yards," Jones said.

Also in the Los Alamitos Championship is last year's winner, Apollitical Time, and the race's three-time winner from 2003-05, Catchmeinyourdreams.

Hobbs America doubleheader

Zia Park holds a stakes doubleheader on Sunday as a wide-open field competes in the Grade 2, $260,000 Hobbs America Futurity and fastest qualifier Vital Winner goes for his most important win in the Grade 2, $137,000 Hobbs America Derby.

The Hobbs America Futurity at 400 yards is paced by fastest qualifier A Real Shaker, who won his maiden in his seventh start by winning the fifth of five trials. He won with a time of 19.383 seconds and led four other qualifiers from that trial.

Second-fastest qualifier DM Shatanooga, a full brother to 2005 world champion DM Shicago, also won his maiden with a trial victory, winning by a neck. He has finished on the board in 4 of 5 starts and could be the futurity favorite.

DM Shatanooga's trainer, Carl Draper, will also saddle Grade 1, $625,000 Rainbow Futurity qualifier Fear This Feature and the promising Shabouh.

In the Hobbs America Derby, fastest qualifier Vital Winner goes against two proven members of the Paul Jones stable. Vital Winner, a winner of 7 of 14 starts, was second behind the 4-year-old Ketel Won in the Grade 3 All American Gold Cup two starts back and then defeated the Jones-trained Twoforthedough in the first of two derby trials.

The Jones-trained Twoforthedough and The Crawfish, the second- and third-fastest qualifiers, were each under a tight hold by jockey Freddie Martinez in their derby trials.

Twoforthedough raced to fourth-place finishes in the Grade 1, $230,000 Ruidoso Derby and the Grade 1, $448,000 Rainbow Derby last summer at Ruidoso Downs.

The Crawfish qualified to a pair of $1 million futurities at Los Alamitos last fall and was third in the Rainbow Derby.