12/08/2004 12:00AM

Ocean Runaway tops deep Los Alamitos Million field


Two-time futurity winner Ocean Runaway goes after his second $1 million-plus purse and can start a potentially exceptional weekend for trainer Denny Ekins when he runs in the Grade 1, $1,508,650 Los Alamitos Million, California's richest race of the year, on Friday night at Los Alamitos.

Ekins will also be represented by favorite Not for Long in the Grade 1 Southern California Derby on Sunday.

The most important weekend of the year at Los Alamitos, includes two other Grade 1 stakes, the $500,000 Champion of Champions on Saturday and the $175,000 Marathon National on Sunday. There is a Champions Pick Four wager on the four weekend stakes.

Ocean Runaway chould clinch the champion 2-year-old colt title with a Los Alamitos Million win. He has four wins in his last four starts, including the $1 million Golden State Million and the Grade 1 Governor's Cup Futurity. In the Golden State, Ocean Runaway was the 7-5 favorite and scored a three-quarter-length win in 19.42 seconds for the 400 yards. He came back in his Los Alamitos Million trial to win by 2 1/4 lengths in 19.48 for 400 yards, the fastest qualifying time from the 98 2-year-olds who ran in the 12 trials.

Ocean Runaway will be facing a deep field in the Los Alamitos Million, including New Mexico invader Sizzling, Golden State Million runner-up Like Frankie and Me, and the entry of One More Habit and Hardly Hateful.

Sizzling has won three of six starts, but will be moving up in class. He won his Million trial by 2 1/2 lengths with the second-fastest time of 19.49. Sizzling's trainer, Russell Harris, will also saddle Grade 1 Ruidoso Futurity second-place finisher Tell Em Im Gone in the Los Alamitos Million.

Like Frankie and Me has come into his own this fall with three wins, and a second-place finish in the Golden State Million in his four previous starts. After his runner-up finish, he came back and won his Los Alamitos Million trial by 1 1/4 lengths in 19.55.

The Vessels Stallion Farm, winner of the Los Alamitos Million in 2000 and 2001, will be represented this year by One More Habit and Hardly Hateful. One More Habit has won her last two starts and Hardly Hateful was second in the Grade 1 Rainbow Futurity.

Title on line in Champion of Champions

The Champion of Champions on Saturday night should determine the 2004 world champion, when sophomore Be a Bono meets Catchmeinyourdreams.

Be a Bono has eight wins and one second-place finish from nine starts, including four Grade 1 victories. This year he defeated older horses in the Spencer Childers California Championship and 3-year-olds in the Los Alamitos Winter Derby and the Los Alamitos Super Derby.

Catchmeinyourdreams comes into the Champion of Champions off Grade 1 wins in the Go Man Go Invitational Handicap and the Los Alamitos Championship.

Not for Long could cap big weekend

Not for Long gives trainer Denny Ekins a second chance for a Grade 1 win this weekend in the $130,950 Southern California Derby on Sunday night.

Not For Long has Grade 1 derby wins in the Governor's Cup Derby and the Golden State Derby. He is the fastest qualifier to the Southern California Derby, defeating 2003 champion 2-year-old colt Hawkish by a nose in their trial. The top four finishers in that trial ran the four fastest qualifying times. Not for Long was timed in 19.52 for the 400 yards.

Deeheiress won the other trial in a clocking of 19.59, despite being hit from each side at the start. She defeated La Primera Derby runner-up Make It Work by three-quarters of a length.

Hubbard entry heads Marathon National

The Joan Dale Hubbard-owned entry of Tricky Dust and Prankster CF, Quarter Horse full brothers sired by the Thoroughbred Favorite Trick, head the $175,000 Marathon National over 870 yards on Sunday night. The Marathon National is open to both Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds.

The 3-year-old Prankster CF won the second of two Marathon National trials by 2 1/2 lengths over the New Mexico-based Thoroughbred Bang. Prankster CF ran the 870 yards in 44.72 for his second win in his last three starts.

Tricky Dust, 4, winner of the Newport Beach Handicap on April 3, finished second in the first Marathon trial, behind Roto Rooster, who scored his third consecutive victory. Roto Rooster was winless in three 2003 starts, but has finished on the board in each of his five 2004 appearances.

Sixes Royal, Hadtobenuts rematch

Sixes Royal and Hadtobenuts will have a rematch of their one-two finish in the Grade 1 Texas Classic Derby in the $137,318 Harrah's Entertainment Derby on Sunday at Louisiana Downs.

In the Texas Classic Derby, Sixes Royal beat Hadtobenuts by a neck over 440 yards in 21.72. Sixes Royal followed that win with a third-place finish in his Harrah's trial.

Hadtobenuts, the 6-5 favorite in the Texas Classic, returned and set the fastest-qualifying time of 22.217 in his 440-yard Harrah's trial, winning the race by two lengths.