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Challenge Championship Veterans Ready to Fire

November 17, 2010

The oldest equine competitors during the 18th Bank of America Racing Challenge Championships on Friday night at Fair Grounds Race Course are three classy 8-year-old geldings, Bad Act, Sheet Burns and WRS Special Shoe, and all are coming off stakes victories.

Bad Act and Sheet Burns will both compete in the $125,000 Red Cell Distance Challenge Championship (G1). WRS Special Shoe will run in the preceding race, the $25,000 Farnam Stakes.

The three horses have made a combined 199 starts and have won 54 races with 55 seconds and 29 thirds. That's some durability and talent.

In last year's Distance Challenge Championship at his home base of Los Alamitos, Bad Act finished third behind eventual division champion Gone To The Mountain and two-time division champion Snowbound Superstar. He qualified to this year's renewal by winning the October 17 Turf Paradise Distance Challenge by 5 3/4 lengths in his most recent race.

The Texas-bred son of This Snow Is Royal, who has earned $235,240 with 16 wins in 67 starts, is owned by Hemerio Hernandez of Norwalk, California, and is trained by Hernandez's brother Hector, who claimed him for $5,000 in June 2006. Now, more than four years later, Hemerio Hernandez said Bad Act remains enthusiastic about his job.

“He loves to run, and he loves to travel,” he said. “When you lead him to the trailer, he just runs in there.”

Sheet Burns, who has won 18 races in 72 starts and earned $288,464, is the 5-2 second choice in the morning line behind 2-1 favorite Stone E Motion. The Colorado-bred son of Okey Dokey Dale, who races for Maclovio Regalado of Queen Creek, Arizona, is coming off the richest win of his career when he earned $33,000 for taking the Herman Jefferson Stakes (G3) on October 16 at Zia Park. His four wins in his past five starts include the Lone Star Distance Challenge at Lone Star Park and Special Hank Handicap at Albuquerque.

Two years ago at Evangeline Downs, WRS Special Shoe captured the featured event during the Challenge Championships, the $353,000 AQHA Challenge Championship (G1), at odds of 26-1. Racing for Williams Racing Stables Inc. of La Center, Kentucky, the First Down Laveaux gelding has won 20 of 60 races and earned $773,305. He is coming off three consecutive victories, all at Prairie Meadows.

“He's an old warrior,” trainer Heath Taylor said. “It's phenomenal how he's maintained his form.”

First post for Friday's 13-race card at Fair Grounds is 5 p.m. Central. For the first time, the Bank of America Challenge Championships will be featured on Horse Racing TV and available to the channel’s 17 million subscribers, as well as free to view on AQHA’s Q-Racing Video. During the “free weekend,” nonsubscribers will be asked for a valid e-mail address to access the site. Q-Racing Video will be free and open to the world from 8 a.m. Friday, November 19, through the evening of Sunday, November 21. BY AMY OWENS