12/29/2011 1:08PM

Sunland: Cold Cash 123 looks to lock up Quarter Horse title in Championship

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Cold Cash 123 will have more than just purse money on the line Saturday when he runs in the Grade 1, $350,000 Championship for Quarter Horses at Sunland Park. He enters the race as the American Quarter Horse Association’s top-ranked runner, according to a poll covering 3-year-olds and up, and a win should secure his No. 1 spot for 2011.

But his task is not a simple one. The field of 10 horses assembled for the Championship have earned a collective $5.1 million, among them Louisiana Senator, who ranks third on the AQHA poll; Favorite Cartel and Rylees Boy, who finished one-two in the Grade 1 Challenge Championship at Los Alamitos in October; and Sir Seth, who earlier this month won the Grade 1 Zia Park Distance Championship.

Sleepy Gilbreath, who trains Cold Cash 123 as well as the nation’s top-ranked 2-year-old, Ochoa, said the break will be key Saturday. Cold Cash 123 drew post 9 for the Championship, a 400-yard invitational, and is to be ridden by Roy Baldillez.

“If he gets away good, he runs good,” Gilbreath said. “It’s the way I feel about him.

“I’m very happy with the post. If he doesn’t break, he doesn’t have to try and go around eight or nine of them. He’s got maybe one to go around.”

Cold Cash 123 has won 5 of 7 starts this year, including the Grade 1 Rainbow Derby at Ruidoso Downs in July and the Grade 1 Texas Classic Derby at Lone Star Park in November. Gilbreath said Cold Cash 123, who after Lone Star remained in training on a farm in Texas, shipped into Sunland more than a week ago. The Championship will be his first start in about six weeks.

“He is fresh, and I think that’s going to be to his advantage,” said Gilbreath, who trains Cold Cash 123 for the horse’s breeder, T Bill Stables Inc.

Louisiana Senator comes into the Championship off a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Champion of Champions at Los Alamitos on Dec. 12. Earlier this year, the horse won Grade 1 races at Remington Park and Lone Star. G.R. Carter Jr. has the mount for trainer Heath Reed.

The Championship will be supported by the $110,000 Red Hedeman Mile for Thoroughbreds. The stakes for 2-year-olds bred in New Mexico is a rematch of the top three finishers from the $129,000 Eddy County at Zia: E Bar Way, Zenon’s Star, and That’s Who.

Ochoa to resume training soon

Ochoa, who won the Grade 1, $2.4 million All American Futurity for Quarter Horses in September, is getting some time off at a Texas farm but will resume training soon, said Gilbreath.

“He’s been kind of laid back,” Gilbreath said. “I turn him out in the paddock every day when the weather is not too bad and keep him up at night. He’ll start back galloping at the first of the year.”

Gilbreath said Ochoa is a candidate for next year’s 3-year-old series at Ruidoso Downs