Grand Champion is the kind of horse a New York racing fan loves.

He runs hard always, loves Aqueduct’s winter track and has performed well enough to have a record of 6-1-6 from 16 career starts.

Saturday afternoon, he will launch his six-year-old season when he goes to post in the 101st running of the $65,000-added Paumonok for three-year-olds and up at six furlongs on the inner dirt track.

This will be Grand Champion’s first start since running fourth to Fabulous Strike in the Fall Highweight Handicap back on November 27.

With trainer Jimmy Jerkens in Florida, Grand Champion’s owners John and Susan Moore, have turned over his training this winter to Mike Hushion. Hushion, annually one of New York’s top trainers, began his career with Jerkens’ father, Hall of Fame trainer H. Allen Jerkens.

“I’m only watching him for a few months this winter, and then goes back to Jimmy,” Hushion said. “I’ve only had him for a little while. He’s a nice horse and he has his own ways. Jimmy told to be careful in the mornings because he will take off on you if he gets the chance.”

Since one old pro deserves another, Hushion will go with jockey Richard Migliore on Grand Champion, who will break from post 2 in the Paumonok.

Trainer Cleveland Johnson believes that his entry Lindy Redding’s Ravalo, will be the post-time favorite for the Paumonok.

“He’s all speed,” Johnson said from Laurel. Md., after learning that Ravalo had drawn the rail for Saturday’s feature. “That’s no secret. And he’s a real nice horse; very consistent. He’s won on muddy tracks and synthetic track and he won an overnight race up there last year. He’s traveled everywhere and he’s traveled well. I would think he would have to be the favorite in that group.”

Mike Luzzi has the mount on Ravalo at 121 pounds.

Another Laurel invader here is TradeWinds Stable’s Place Your Bet, a winner at his home track on January 8 for trainer Scott Lake.

The 5-year-old Out of Place gelding has a 4-1-2 record from nine starts at this distance and will be ridden by his regular jockey, Jennifer Stisted.

Edward P. Evans’ Serious Fever has speed, but could rate if the situation calls for it. Trained by Anthony Dutrow, the 5-year-old Stormin Fever gelding has been no worse than third in seven of nine tries at the Paumonok distance.

A winner of three of his last four starts, Darley Stable’s Accredit won on the slop here on December 11 for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. Jockey Rajiv Maragh picks up the mount on this 4-year-old E Dubai colt on Saturday.

Paraneck Stable’s True Quality is another speedster who has drawn post 3 under jockey C. C. Lopez. He figures to challenge Ravalo on top and if they push each other early, could set up another player for the finish.


The field for Saturday’s 101st running of the Paumonok:

PP. HORSE TRAINER JOCKEY WGT.
l. Ravalo Cleveland Johnson Mike Luzzi 121
2. Grand Champion Mike Hushion Richard Migliore 121
3. True Quality John Campo Jr. C.C. Lopez 119
4. Place Your Bet Scott Lake Jennifer Stisted 121
5. Serious Fever Anthony Dutrow Channing Hill 119
6. Accredit Kiaran McLaughlin Rajiv Maragh 119