Challenge Leaders Honored at Los Al

Familiar and new faces take home awards.

October 29, 2011

2011 Championships

On Saturday night, the 19th Bank of America Challenge Championships will be run at Los Alamitos Race Course in Cypress, California. The event is the culmination of regional trials and stakes run at over 20 racetracks in the United States, Mexico, Canada and South America.

Throughout the year points are accumulated in regional Bonus, Maiden and Challenge events. At an awards brunch on Saturday morning at Los Alamitos, with the support of generous corporate partners, AQHA recognized the leading breeder, owner, trainer and jockey for the 2011 Bank of America Racing Challenge.

The Nutrena Champion Breeder award went to Vessels Stallion Farm LLC of Bonsall, California. This was the fourth time they have been the top breeder, with previous honors in 2007, 2009 and 2010. The farm will receive $5,000, three tons of feed and a custom buckle from Montana Silversmiths.

Kash Vessels, son of the late Frank R. “Scoop” Vessels III, and Kevin Dixon, Vessels ranch manager, accepted the award.

“For me, personally, it’s a testament to the breeding program at Vessels that has excelled for years,” said Dixon. “We nominate all our foals into the Bank of America Challenge. Looking through the program, it’s nice to see a lot of the Vessels-breds returning to the track from many different regions. It’s great to see them winning in Indiana and the Intermountain region.”

“Vessels Stallion Farm is proud to support the Bank of America Challenge,” added Vessels. “It’s nice to have success and to be recognized as a breeder.”

Mickey Tiner of Angleton, Texas, earned his first John Deere Champion Owner award.

Tiner ran horses in Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa and Canada. His Challenge participants included Comin Thru, who ran in the Bank of America division at Sam Houston Race Park and Fort Erie, Feature Showtime and Time to Zoom. Tiner was awarded with a John Deere Gator utility vehicle and a custom buckle from Montana Silversmiths, but was unable to travel to California to accept his award.

Another first-time award winner was Judd Kearl, who soared to the top as the Vetrolin Champion Trainer. Kearl, who was born in Treemonton, Utah, and now makes Madisonville, Texas, his home, has been one of the top horsemen in Texas and Oklahoma. Kearl was the conditioner of Comin Thru, a top Bank of America Challenge competitor; Eyes Blew By You, who won the Adequan Sam Houston Derby Challenge; Ms Riptide, a qualifier in the Merial Distaff Challenge Championship (G10 and Speedin Streak, who will compete in the $75,000 Pfizer Starter Allowance Challenge Championship. He will receive $5,000 cash, a Tex-Tan saddle and products from Vetrolin, as well as a custom buckle from Montana Silversmiths.

Lynn and Betty Bettinger, who own Speedin Streak, accepted the award for Kearl, who could not get away from his racing obligations.

“I am very grateful to AQHA and to my owners, who I share this award with,” said Kearl from his barn at Lone Star Park. “They let me run my horses where they belong, even if it means shipping them across the country. I also need to thank my entire team, including assistants, Arturo Carillo and Brad Mason. We covered a lot of miles this year, and I couldn’t have done it without good help from everyone who works for me.”

AQHA champion rider G.R. Carter attended the brunch and received his sixth Wrangler Champion Jockey award. The 43-year-old rider is the top money-earner in American Quarter Horse racing and is in demand from owners and trainers for every major Challenge racing weekend.

“It’s just a really good program that showcases nice horses at a lot of racetracks,” said Carter. “I am very appreciative of all the horsemen who have given me so many opportunities.”

Carter, who was honored in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, and 2010, will receive $2,000, a Tex Tan trophy saddle and a Montana Silversmiths buckle. He is named on 11 mounts for Saturday night’s Bank of America Challenge Championships card. His only favorite is Docs Dusty Okie in the $125,000 Red Cell Distance Challenge (G1), but he looks forward to riding the stakes-filled card.

“I always go out there feeling that each of my horses has a chance to win the race,” said Carter. “I know my competition in these tough races, but my job is to get them to the wire, regardless of the odds.”

Post time for the Bank of America Challenge Championships, featuring 12 stakes and purses of $1.1 million, is 7:00 p.m. Pacific time. This is the ninth time that Los Alamitos Race Course has hosted the Bank of America Racing Challenge Championships. The event will be televised on TVG, or watch it live, free of charge, on Q-Racing Video at Check for the latest news and information. BY MARTHA CLAUSSEN