04/07/2009 11:00PM

Won't be easy to keep up with the Joneses


It may be hard for bettors to pick between Hawk on the Fly and Royal Proclamation in Friday's $192,300 El Primero Del Ano Derby at Los Alamitos.

They were equally impressive winning time trials for the 400-yard race on March 20, are in the midst of outstanding campaigns, and are trained by Paul Jones, who leads the Quarter Horse standings at Los Alamitos.

Neither did much at 2 because of injury. Hawk on the Fly did not start, and Royal Proclamation made only two starts. Their 3-year-old seasons have made that easier to forget.

"They're both making really nice 3-year-olds," Jones said. "Sometimes they don't get it done at 2, you give them time off and they came back."

Royal Proclamation is the more accomplished of the pair, having won the $141,000 Los Alamitos Maiden Stakes last month. In the El Primero time trials, he set the fastest qualifying time of 19.55 seconds, winning for the third time in his last four starts for owners Garvan Kelly and Nancy Yearsley.

Royal Proclamation won a trial race by a neck over Jimmy Delivers. A Tempting Dash, who won the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby in February, finished third after a bad break, but still qualified for Friday's final.

Hawk on the Fly won his third consecutive start in the trials, easily pulling clear of six rivals by 1 3/4 lengths. He was timed in 19.57 seconds.

"I thought he ran a really good race," Jones said. "He's developed into a nice horse. He got hurt at 2, and we had to give him some time off."

Jones has four of the 10 finalists, but said that his other qualifiers - Hes Regal and The Stylish Side - are overmatched. Jones was not happy that Hawk on the Fly drew post 3.

"I'm not real keen on his post position draw," Jones said. "I wish he'd draw more outside."

A Tempting Dash starts in post 9. Co-owned by former major league baseball player Jeremy Giambi and trained by Jaime Gomez, A Tempting Dash was beaten three-quarters of a length after a bad start in the trials. He has won 3 of 5 starts over 400 yards.

The field also includes Hard Hitting, the winner of the Governor's Cup Futurity last summer. Hard Hitting has struggled since, winning just 2 of 5 starts.