03/09/2005 1:00AM

Meteoric eyes breakthrough


Meteoric, runner-up in two major Grade 1 races at Los Alamitos, is in excellent position to win his first stakes at that Southern California track in the $18,000 Carmel Handicap on Friday night.

Meteoric, who already has won $556,545, has done extremely well at Los Alamitos, he just hasn't gotten that elusive stakes win.

In 2002, at age 2, he ran second as a 3-5 favorite in the Grade 1, $1,285,700 Los Alamitos Million, the track's richest race.

In 2004, he ran second, beaten by a nose, as part of the favored entry in the $200,000 Los Alamitos Winter Championship.

Meteoric is clearly the class of the 350-yard Carmel Handicap, with 13 wins from 23 career starts, mainly against much stronger competition than he will meet on Friday. He has made only one start in allowance company, his other 22 starts coming in stakes or stakes trials.

In his most recent start, on Feb. 5, Meteoric tried to qualify for the Winter Championship but finished third after being bumped at the start and did not qualify. In his previous start, he was second to 2003 Champion of Champions winner The Down Side in a Directors' Handicap trial race.

Among Meteoric's toughest rivals on Friday will be Scott Lewis Handicap winner Good as Good Bye and Sgt Pepper Feature Handicap winner Myster Quick Fix.

Grades stakes on agenda

Major changes to how stakes are graded is the primary business item before the American Quarter Horse Association's Racing Committee at the AQHA convention in St. Louis this weekend.

Any recommendations by the racing committee will be reviewed by the AQHA Racing Council and the AQHA Executive Committee before being enacted.

Potential changes to grading stakes include raising the minimum added-money level from its current $10,000, adjusting distance requirements, and making a race's longevity and quality of field more of a factor.

Meanwhile, the class of 2005 will be inducted into the AQHA Hall of Fame on Sunday night. Inductees include jockey Charley Smith and owners and breeders Ginger Hyland and the Allred brothers - Jerry, Harvey, and Dale.

Smith, known as "Choo Choo Charley," was a dominant jockey at Los Alamitos Race Course before retiring in 1974. In 1963, he rode world champion Jet Deck and won the All American Futurity with Goetta.

Hyland and the Allred brothers all became leading breeders and owners with a small number of high-quality broodmares. Hyland bred and owned two-time champion and 1995 broodmare of the year Florentine. The Allreds bred 2002 All American Futurity winner AB What a Runner.