He was Jess too fast. Double Bar S Ranch’s Jess You And I became the first Quarter Horse ever to eclipse the 21 second barrier in a 440 yard race at Los Alamitos, as he outdueled champion Little Bit Of Baja by a head to win the $750,000 Champion of Champions in a jaw-dropping time of :20.94 on Saturday, December 13.
Ridden by Alejandro Luna for trainer Jaime Gomez, Jess You And I, now the winner of 10 races in 18 starts, beat the previous track record set by world champion Blues Girl Too, in last year’s Champion of Champions, by 19/100ths of a second.
A Long Goodbye holds the world record of 20.686 set at Sunland Park in 2005, with a 14-mile-per-hour tail wind.
Sent off at 15-1 odds, Jess You And I, in his 440-yard debut, and the 3-1 second choice Little Bit Of Baja delivered a memorable duel every step of the way. Even-money favorite One Famous Eagle flew late to finish in fourth place after breaking in last place. All American Derby winner Noconi was fifth. No Secrets Here, the 2006 All American Futurity winner, was scratched out of the race.
Jess You And I, a gelded son of Feature Mr Jess, also became a millionaire in the process, making him the fourth Quarter Horse from the crop of 2004 to attain that status, as the $375,000 Champion of Champions winner’s check boosted his career earnings to $1,172,967.
This makes the crop of 2008 the first in history to produce a quartet of millionaires. Blues Girl Too, FDD Dynasty and No Secrets Here are the other current 4-year-olds with seven-digit earnings.
Owner Double Bar S Ranch was named 2006 AQHA champion owner thanks to the then 2-year-old champion Jess You And I, as well as multiple futurity winner Tac It Like A Man, but this was their first Champion of Champions win.
“I was confident all along about his chances,” said Dawn List, who along with her sister Rhonda and mother Sharon, owns Double Bar S Ranch. “I even had a fortune cookie tell me that we were going to win. It reads ‘Your confidence will lead you to success,’ and I was confident coming into the race.”
“I put $1,000 on the nose on him to win,” said Rhonda List. “I’m going to buy everyone at the farm some nice stocking stuffers this Christmas.
Trainer Jaime Gomez, known as the “King of the Futurities” at Los Alamitos because of his success with 2-year-olds, also enjoyed his first ever Champion of Champions win. Gomez’s previous best showing in the Champion of Champions was a second place finish with Like Frankie And Me in 2005.
Gomez broke down in tears in the winner’s circle, as he talked about his deceased father, Baudelio Gomez, who passed away on December 4. “The doctor told us that he would only last about 13 months, but my dad fought hard and stayed alive for two and a half years,” said Gomez. “Just last week, when I went to see him, he said, ‘Son, give me money because your horse just won the big race.’
“I told him I hadn’t, but he kept insisting that I had won the big race. He passed away four days later. Tonight, I dedicate this big race to my dad.”
A native of Jalisco, Mexico, Gomez becomes the first Mexican-born trainer to win the Champion of Champions. “I was raised in Guadalajara and I came here when I was 15 years old,” said 56-year-old Gomez. “Los Alamitos will forever be my home. I love this place and it’s in my heart. I will never want to leave this place.”