12/07/2007 1:00AM

Ketel Won following the money to Zia

EmailKetel Won, the Ruidoso Downs older horse of the meet, returns to New Mexico for the Grade 1, $175,000 Zia Park Quarter Horse Championship on Sunday afternoon.

Trainer by Paul Jones, Ketel Won joined the Los Alamitos branch of the Jones operation after the Ruidoso summer season and raced to a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Championship. In that 440-yard race, the same distance as the Zia Championship, Ketel Won bobbled at the start, but recovered and raced down the rail to the third-place finish at 11-1 odds.

"It wasn't a terrible start, but it certainly wasn't a good start," Jones said. "He got back on his feet, and he really ran a good race from the 1 hole."

Ketel Won could have stayed at Los Alamitos and raced in the Directors Trials, which determined the final qualifier in the Champion of Champions on Nov. 24.

"There was only one berth from three trials," Jones said. "He would have had a good chance, but we could run one time in the Zia Championship for $175,000 and then think about going to Sunland Park for The Championship."

The Grade 1, $400,000 The Championship at Sunland Park will be held on Dec. 29.

Ketel Won earned his older horse of the meet title at Ruidoso Downs with two stakes wins and a close second-place effort in the Grade 3 Mr Jet Moore Handicap.

He returned from a winter layoff to win the Grade 3 Higheasterjet Handicap by a length as the 3-1 favorite. After the 440-yard world-record holder, A Long Goodbye, defeated him by a head in the Grade 3 Mr Jet Moore Handicap, Ketel Won dominated the 440-yard All American Gold Cup by more than two lengths as the 1-2 favorite.

Let It Snowman is also returning to New Mexico after a successful trip to Southern California, racing to a second-place finish in the Grade 1, $300,000 Bank of America Challenge Championship. He finished second to the 2006 champion 3-year-old gelding, Strawkins, who could be favored in the Grade 1, $1 million Champion of Champions on Dec. 15.

Let It Snowman earned his berth in the Challenge Championship with a win in the Grade 1 Bank of America New Mexico Challenge at Sunland Park in April.

The remarkable Bullions N Garters, on the board in 34 of 35 career starts, will try to rebound from her only off-the-board effort, which came when she was eliminated at the start of the Grade 2 Lubbock Stakes on Nov. 3. She counts 10 stakes wins among her 19 career wins and will go for her first Grade 1 victory. She was a troubled second in the Grade 1, $100,000 Refrigerator Handicap at Lone Star Park two starts ago.