02/08/2013 3:31PM

Los Alamitos: Creole Williams hits the big time in Winter Derby

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California sisters Dawn and Rhonda List were at the 2011 Ruidoso Quarter Horse yearling sale in New Mexico when their trainer Paul Jones insisted they inspect a Louisiana-bred prospect with modest bloodlines.

“Paul said, ‘I like this horse,’  ” Dawn List recalled on Thursday. “We didn’t know much about his breeding, but he was a good-looking animal.”

The “good-looking animal,” by Jess Louisiana Blue, cost $18,000 and is named Creole Williams. He’s turned out to be a good-looking racehorse.

On Feb. 16, Creole Williams makes his first start in a major stakes in the $232,650 Los Alamitos Winter Derby over 400 yards.

The next night, in the $171,300 Los Alamitos Winter Championship, the Lists’ Jess You and I will make what Dawn List says is the final start of his career in the first major Quarter Horse race of the year for older runners.

Jess You and I, the champion aged gelding of 2008, has won 19 of 41 starts and $1,899,839. After finishing seventh in the Champion of Champions on Dec. 15, a race he won in 2008, Jess You and I was sent to the List’s Double Bar S Ranch in Southern California for an expected retirement.

Ranch manager W.G. Baber galloped Jess You and I in late December and early January before he was sent back to Jones at the track.“W.G. said, ‘I’ll keep galloping him and see how he does,’” Dawn List said. “We had him here a couple of weeks. “This will be his last start,” said Dawn List. “I don’t care if he gets in the Champion of Champions.” The winner of the 400-yard Winter Championship receives an automatic berth to the $750,000 Champion of Champions on Dec. 14.

Creole Williams appears to have a better chance to win than Jess You and I.Creole Williams won a division of the Winter Derby trials on Jan. 26 and has the second-fastest qualifying time for the final. Jones also starts Stel My Corona, the winner of the Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Racing Association Breeders’ Futurity in October. The fastest qualifier is Remembering Spence, who was third in the Governor’s Cup Futurity in July.

The Winter Championship has a strong field, including the Jones-trained Rylees Boy, who won the Champion of Champions in December; Hez Our Secret, who was fourth in the Champion of Champions; fastest qualifier Last to Fire; and Cold Cash 123, the 2011 World Champion Quarter Horse.