12/15/2003 12:00AM

A Regal Choice wins Million on foul claim


LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. - Paul Jones, the nation's leading Quarter Horse trainer by money won, pulled upsets in the two richest races at Los Alamitos over the weekend, winning Friday's $1,367,650 Los Alamitos Million in the stewards' room with A Regal Choice and Saturday's $500,000 Champion of Champions with surprise winner The Down Side.

On Sunday, Heros Call, a Quarter Horse sired by the Thoroughbred Grand Slam, scored a convincing win for trainer Laura Pinelli in the $175,000 Marathon National at 870 yards.

A Regal Choice was promoted from second to first in the Million after the stewards ruled he was fouled by first-place finisher Corona for Me in the final strides of the 400-yard race.

Corona for Me, the fastest qualifier, hit the wire first by a nose, but he lugged in from post 3 and bothered A Regal Choice, who started in post 2 and was ridden by Alejandro Luna.

The two had drifted toward each other in the second half of the race, and Corona for Me, who is missing his left eye because of an accident as a yearling, continued to lug to the inside late.

Corona for Me finished 400 yards in 19.525 seconds. Cash for Kas finished third in the field of 10.

Hawkish, the even-money favorite, finished ninth. He won the Kindergarten and Ed Burke futurities earlier this year and would have earned a $1 million bonus with a victory in the Los Alamitos Million. Hawkish did not break well and was quickly out of contention.

A Regal Choice ($27.80) earned $535,860 for owner Esmeralda Flores.

Champion of Champions: The Down Side scores

The Down Side ($33.80) won the Champion of Champions by 1 1/4 lengths over Catchmein-yourdreams.

Ridden by Ramon Sanchez, The Down Side finished 440 yards in 21.19 seconds, missing Dash for Cash's 1976 track record by 0.02 of a second.

Buccaneer Beach finished third in the field of 10. Defending champion Whosleavingwho finished fourth. AB What a Runner, the 9-5 favorite and winner of the 2002 All American Futurity, did not break well and finished sixth.

The Down Side gave owner R.D. Hubbard his second win in the Champion of Champions, 22 years after his Denim n Diamonds won the sport's leading race for older horses. Hubbard co-owns The Down Side with country music singer Toby Keith and John T.L. Jones.

The Down Side finished 10th in the 2002 All American Futurity, emerging with injuries to both knees. He missed a summer campaign this year because of a bout with colic but is unbeaten in three starts this fall.

Marathon National: Heros Call sets record

Heros Call set a stakes record of 44.38 seconds in the Marathon, the richest race of its kind in Quarter Horse racing.

Ridden by Thoroughbred journeyman Tyler Baze, Heros Call stalked pacesetters Available Credit and Harbor Beach to the turn and rallied along the rail to catch Available Credit in the final sixteenth.

Heros Call paid $3.80 as part of a three-horse entry with Oak Canyon, who finished third, and Coolmore, who was sixth in the field of eight. The race was marred by the breakdown of Johnny Be Good. His jockey, Ramon Guce, was hospitalized as a precaution, according to Los Alamitos officials.

Heros Call is owned and trained by Pinelli, who bred the 3-year-old gelding with Terry Horton and Pinelli's former husband, Thoroughbred trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Heros Call has won 6 of 16 starts and $151,500.