02/01/2012 3:40PM

Los Alamitos: Jess You and I, Noconi a speedy pair for Jones


Trainer Paul Jones has two of the leading qualifiers for the $226,050 Los Alamitos World Championship on Feb. 19 with the champions Jess You and I and Noconi.

He needs both veterans to be at their best to beat a strong group of eight rivals in the 400-yard final.

Sunday’s four divisions of the time trials produced impressive wins from the fastest qualifier, Noconi; Jess You and I, the winner of the 2009 Los Alamitos Winter Championship; Senor Toby, the winner of seven consecutive races, and Dash Back Perry, a mare who won the Charger Bar Handicap last month. All four were heavily favored.

Noconi, racing for R.D. Hubbard and John T.L. Jones, won his division of the trials in 19.685 seconds in his first start at Los Alamitos since a fifth-place finish behind Jess You and I in the 2008 Champion of Champions. In that season, Noconi was named the champion 3-year-old gelding, and Jess You and I was champion aged horse and champion aged gelding. Noconi was the 2010 champion aged gelding.

Noconi, 7, has raced primarily in New Mexico during his 31-race career.

Jess You and I, who won his division of the trials in 19.37 seconds, has won 19 of 36 starts and $1,810,627.

“He’s an 8-year-old that’s still qualifying to Grade 1 races, and he’s still good enough to beat any horse out there,” Jones said.

Senor Toby has the second-fastest qualifying time after winning his trial in 19.710 seconds. Dash Back Perry was much slower, with a trial-winning time of 19.75 seconds. Other notable qualifiers to the 10-horse final are El Aguila Real, the winner of the Southern California Derby in December, and Sparky E Boy, who finished second in the Champion of Champions in December.

Deniro fastest for Winter Derby

Deniro, stakes-placed in Oregon last summer, is the fastest qualifier for the $197,700 Los Alamitos Winter Derby on Feb. 18 after winning a division of the trials in a 14-1 upset last Saturday.

A winner of 3 of 7 starts, Deniro ran 400 yards in 19.51 seconds. Last summer, Deniro was second in the $33,200 Firecracker Futurity at Grants Pass, Oregon, last July.

Long Gone, second in the Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Racing Association Breeders’ Futurity in October, won his division of the trials in 19.85 seconds. The Los Alamitos Winter Derby will be his fourth appearance in the final of a major futurity or derby.