06/21/2001 12:00AM

A Ransom returns with repaired knees


Reigning world champion A Ransom makes his 2001 debut Saturday in the Grade 1 $150,000 Spencer Childers Handicap, which highlights the talent-laden California Champions Night at Los Alamitos.

The 400-yard Childers is one of eight graded stakes - with $814,000 in purses for California-breds - on the card.

While the program is billed for California champions, it brings out many of the sport's national champions. In addition to A Ransom, the card will have:

* 2000 champion 3-year-old gelding Chicks First Policy in the Spencer Childers.

* 2000 champion 2-year-old filly Secret Card in the Grade 1 $162,000 Governors Cup Derby.

* 2000 champion distance horse Sign of Lanty in the Grade 3 $25,000 California Breeders Marathon Stakes.

Spencer Childers Handicap: A Ransom is making his first start since he wrapped up his world championship with a half-length win in the Grade 1 Champion of Champions on Dec. 17.

Trained by Connie Hall, A Ransom was undefeated in five starts last year with three Grade 1 wins.

"He's ready to go. There have been no setbacks," said Hall, one of only four trainers to win the All American Futurity and the Champion of Champions.

A 5-year-old gelding, A Ransom had minor surgery on both knees. Hall said the knees were flushed and the surgery "went better than we expected."

Last year, A Ransom won the California Breeders Sprint on California Champions Night in a meet-best 17.28 seconds for the 350 yards.

This year, Hall considered the $25,000 Sprint, but opted for the longer and richer Childers. "We put an extra breeze in him," Hall said. "A couple weeks ago we backed him up past 350 yards and gave him a steady work and then last week we let him rattle at 300 yards."

Chicks First Policy, trained by Dan Francisco, was second in his only start this year, a high-level allowance race on May 27.

A Ransom and Chicks First Policy will be facing a sharp Meddlin in Money, trained by Blane Schvaneveldt. Meddlin In Money comes into the Childers off a late-running victory in the Grade 2 $69,570 MBNA America California Challenge Championship on May 26.

Governor's Cup Derby: Secret Card made an impressive return from a six-month layoff with a half-length victory in her Governor's Cup Derby trial. She has the second-fastest qualifying time of 20.04 seconds for the 400 yards.

During her layoff, Secret Card had an ankle chip removed and was bred to champion Separatist for an embryo transfer foal.

Blue Grass Bounce, owned by D. Wayne and Laura Lukas, led the qualifiers with a 20.02-second time for the 400 yards. She won her trial by 1 1/4 lengths over Grade 1 PCQHRA Breeders Futurity winner Make It Anywhere.

California Breeders Marathon Classic: Sign of Lanty brings a nine-race winning streak at Los Alamitos into the 870-yard California Breeders Marathon. His last loss at Los Alamitos was Oct. 30, 1999.

Last year, he won seven 870-yard stakes at Los Alamitos, including the California Breeders Marathon, and he won the Moonshiner Handicap in his sole 2001 start at Los Alamitos.

Challenging Sign of Lanty will be Heza Sand Trap, coming off a win in the Viking Anne Handicap on June 8.

Governor's Cup Futurity: The Grade 1 $357,000 Governor's Cup Futurity, the richest race on the card, brings together the second- and third-place finishers in the Grade 1 Kindergarten - Don't Dink With Me and Your First Moon.

Don't Dink With Me captured his trial in 17.88 seconds for 350 yards for his first win in four lifetime starts. He was the runner-up in his first three races.

Your First Moon should be favored in the finals after an impressive 2 1/2-length trial victory over 1-5 favorite Ah Fly. Your First Moon, a filly trained by Danny Cardoza, easily topped the qualifiers' list with her 17.55-second time.

Grade 1 winners meet at Retama

Eyesaflash shoots for her fifth-straight win when she heads a strong field in the Grade 1, $135,100 Retama Park Derby on Saturday.

Eyesaflash will line up against Grade 1 Sam Houston Futurity winner Mr Bar Code and Grade 1 Dash for Cash Derby winner Pivotal Decision.

Trained by Edward Ross Hardy, Eyesaflash has been in sharp form this spring, highlighted by a win in the Grade 1 Remington Park Derby on May 6. She won her Retama Derby trial in 19.863 seconds for the fastest time from the four trials.

Mr Bar Code, owned by B and B Joint Ventures, was second to Eyesaflash in the Remington Park Derby and rebounded to win his Retama Derby trial with the second-fastest time, 19.873 seconds.

Pivotal Decision rolled to a 1 3/4-length trial win with the third-fastest time, 19.929 seconds.