10/26/2012 2:39PM

Los Alamitos: Cold Cash 123 vs. El Aguila Real in key matchup

Los Alamitos
Cold Cash 123 wins the Go Man Go Handicap.

Cold Cash 123 is two races away from successfully defending his title as World Champion Quarter Horse.

His main rival in the older horse division – El Aguila Real – is being pointed for the same two races in an effort to earn the title.

Sunday, they meet for the first time in the $150,000 Los Alamitos Championship over 440 yards. The race is a key prep for the $750,000 Champion of Champions at Los Alamitos on Dec. 15, which has a pivotal role in year-end championship voting.

The Grade 1 Los Alamitos Championship will be Cold Cash 123’s second start in California. He won the Grade 1 Go Man Go Handicap on Sept. 23 in his first start since a win in the Remington Park Championship in Oklahoma in May.

After the Go Man Go, trainer Dennis Ekins considered holding Cold Cash 123 out of the Los Alamitos Championship and waiting for the Champion of Champions. He changed his mind earlier this month.

“We had such a long space between the Go Man Go and the Championship, it would have caused us to work him two or three times,” Ekins said. “We can get the benefit of a race instead of just working him for nothing.

“I have a lot of confidence in the horse. I think he’s an exceptional horse, but he’s up against exceptional horses.”

Ekins says that Cold Cash 123 needs activity, more than most Quarter Horses who are not trained on a daily basis.

“The rascal bounced right back after that” last race, Ekins said. “He was back on the track in a few days, sooner than I thought.”

There are only eight runners in the Los Alamitos Championship, including Sparky E Boy and Chivalry Sr, who were second and third in the 2011 Champion of Champions.

El Aguila Real and Cold Cash 123 start in posts 2 and 3. They have dominated the older horse division this year.

El Aguila Real, trained by Francisco Vallejo, has won two Grade 1 races this year – the Los Alamitos Winter Championship in February and the Vessels Maturity in June. After the Vessels Maturity, Vallejo said that 4-year-old El Aguila Real could be trained up to the Champion of Champions.

The decision was reversed, creating an intriguing matchup in the Los Alamitos Championship.