09/30/2009 11:00PM

Noconi looks to stay perfect in 2009


Noconi leads a sharp group of older Quarter Horses for Saturday night's Grade 1, $100,000 Refrigerator Handicap at Lone Star Park. Of the nine starters in the 440-yard race, five have won their last start. And of those five, three are riding multiple-race win streaks into the Refrigerator.

Chief among them is Noconi, who enters off back-to-back Grade 3 stakes wins at Ruidoso in July and August. The races were his first since December.

"He ran two super races at Ruidoso coming off the layoff," said Paul Jones, who trains Noconi for R.D. Hubbard and John T.L. Jones Jr. "He's really a nice horse."

Jones said the Refrigerator has been a target for Noconi for some time because of its big purse and the fact it offers a berth into both the Grade 1, $750,000 Champion of Champions at Los Alamitos on Dec. 12 and the Grade 1, $350,000 Championship at Sunland Park on Dec. 26.

Noconi, won last year's Grade 1 All American Derby and Grade 2 Hobbs America Derby. He made his first start against older horses in the 2008 running of the Champion of Champions last December at Los Alamitos, finishing fifth.

"He didn't get out of the gate and made a pretty good run on the end," Jones said.

Cody Jensen has the mount on Noconi, who is the 126-pound highweight in the Refrigerator. Also in the field is Diamond Tres Seis, winner of the Grade 2 Sam Houston Classic in his last start Aug. 22.