12/14/2007 12:00AM

A Stoli Mate in SoCal Derby off track-record win

EmailLOS ALAMITOS, Calif. - The most convincing win of A Stoli Mate's career landed him in the Los Alamitos record book - a 400-yard track record of 19.29 seconds in the trials on Nov. 30 for Sunday's $150,000 Southern California Derby.

Trainer Adan Farias said that A Stoli Mate is capable of duplicating that performance in the finals. He may not necessarily run as fast, but Farias is optimistic that A Stoli Mate can win.

"He's been more aggressive and I've never seen him like that before," Farias said.

Owned by Jesus Avila and Jesus Cuevas, A Stoli Mate ended a four-race losing streak in the trials. The losing streak dated back to A Stoli Mate's win as a heavy favorite in the Los Alamitos Winter Derby, the biggest victory of the gelding's career.

Following the Winter Derby, A Stoli Mate returned to racing in August, but needed three starts to win.

"It took a long time to get him ready when we brought him back," Farias said.

A Stoli Mate qualified for the Los Alamitos Super Derby on Nov. 10, but finished last after a poor start, a loss that Farias quickly dismissed.

"We had bad luck out of the gate in the Super Derby," Farias said. "If he'd had a clean start, he could have been right there. He's always been a good gate horse. In the Super Derby, he tried to break so hard that the ground broke out from under him."

For Sunday's Southern California Derby, A Stoli Mate has drawn post 3 in a field of 10 and will be ridden by Rodrigo Aceves.

The Double Bar S Ranch and trainer Jaime Gomez have two stakes-winning starters - Jess You and I and Tac It Like a Man.

Jess You and I, the winner of the 2006 Golden State Million, is looking for his first stakes win of the year. He finished sixth in the Super Derby, but rebounded to win a division of the Southern California Derby trials.

Gomez said that Jess You and I has trained well after undergoing swimming therapy at Double Bar S Ranch.

Tac It Like a Man, the winner of the Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Racing Association and Governor's Cup futurities in 2006, is also seeking his first stakes win of this year. He won twice in November, an allowance race and a division of the trials, after returning to racing in October following an 11-month break.

"The layoff will help him," Gomez said.