12/11/2004 12:00AM

'Runaway' takes Los Al Million


Ocean Runaway scored a convincing win in the $1,481,424 Los Alamitos Million Futurity on Friday evening, making a strong claim for the Quarter Horse of the Year title.

The victory was Ocean Runaway's third major stakes win of the year, preceded by the Governor's Cup Futurity in June and the Golden State Million last month, both also at Los Alamitos. His seasonal earnings of $1,158,104 lead the nation's Quarter Horses.

Ridden by Alex Bautista, Ocean Runaway ($3.40) overcame a slight bump with Lethal Bay to take an early lead in the 400-yard Los Alamitos Million. Midway through the race, Ocean Runaway led by a half-length over Hardly Hateful, a filly who was seeking her first stakes win.

Ocean Runaway was in command in the final 100 yards, extending his margin to a length. The final time of 19.409 seconds was a stakes record in the 10-year history of the Los Alamitos Million.

Hardly Hateful, sent off at 27-1, finished second, a neck in front of Tell Em Im Gone in the field of 10. The race was remarkably trouble-free.

Ocean Runaway is likely to be named champion 2-year-old colt and overall champion 2-year-old because of his win in the Los Alamitos Million. Quarter Horse racing honors champion 2-year-olds in the colt, gelding, and filly categories.

His chances for a Horse of the Year title depend on the outcome of the $500,000 Champion of Champions at Los Alamitos on Saturday evening, the nation's top race for older Quarter Horses.

Ocean Runaway races for Gary Muller of Kansas City, Mo., and trainer Dennis Ekins. Ocean Runaway will remain in training in 2005, Muller said.

The Los Alamitos Million was the richest race in the 54-year history of Los Alamitos.