02/23/2006 12:00AM

Whosleavingwho following familiar path


It is safe to say that after wins in 23 of 46 starts Whosleavingwho knows his way around Los Alamitos.

When Whosleavingwho was placed first after a rival was disqualified in the Los Alamitos Winter Championship trials on Feb. 4, trainer Paul Jones was convinced that the 8-year-old gelding was following habit when he started down a path to the winner's circle.

"He knew where it was," Jones said.

Saturday, Whosleavingwho will try for his third win in the $200,000 Winter Championship, a race he won in 2003 and 2005. Owned by Jim Geiler and Kim Kessinger, Whosleavingwho is one of 10 top older Quarter Horses in the 400-yard Winter Championship.

A winner of $1,322,581, Whosleavingwho is nearing the end of his career. Kessinger hinted recently that Whosleavingwho could be retired if he does not win this race.

The Winter Championship is the top race of the winter for older horses. A Grade 1, the Winter Championship carries an automatic berth to the $600,000 Champion of Champions on Dec. 9, which annually plays a major role in the horse of the year voting.

Whosleavingwho has not finished first in his last three starts, a span that consists of a third in the Los Alamitos Championship in October, a sixth in the Champion of Champions in December, and a trial for this race.

His last victory came in the Go Man Go Handicap at Los Alamitos in September, his first start since the 2005 Los Alamitos Winter Championship.

The recent trial loss did not concern jockey Cody Jensen. "He left the gate so hard that the ground broke from underneath him," he said. "He got pinballed after that, but he still ran a huge race."

The fastest qualifier from the two trials was Gold Medal Jess, who has drawn the outside post. Trained by Bret Vickery, Gold Medal Jess, 4, was timed in 19.49 seconds. He is seeking his first major stakes win, having won three minor stakes last year.

Other notable starters are Like Frankie and Me, who was third in the All American Derby at Ruidoso Downs last September; the mares Apollos Favorite and Deeheiress, who finished first and second in the Las Damas Handicap last October; and LDS Dash for Dylan, a massive 17-hand gelding who won the Challenge Derby Championship at Los Alamitos in November.

Apollos Favorite was disqualified from first to fourth in a division of the trials for causing interference. The incident badly affected LDS Dash for Dylan, who was steadied late.