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Challenge Championships: No Sleepy Affair

'Sleepy' Gilbreath's runners are ready for Challenge Championship night.

By Andrea Caudill
Q-Racing Journal
November 5, 2013

sleepy gilbreath

If I Were Famous (left) and Cold Cash 123. PHOTOS: Andrea Caudill

Trainer C. Dwayne “Sleepy” Gilbreath has had a dominating stable in the past few years, and now he’s taking on California.

Among his runners is champion and all-time leading money earner, Ochoa, who recently dominated in the Robert L. Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship (G1) and is now preparing for the December 14 Champion of Champions (G1).

He has another big name rolling out in the November 9 Bank of America Challenge Championships in the form of world champion Cold Cash 123, himself an earner of $1,328,306 and a dangerous entrant in the headline $350,000 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1) on Saturday night. The winner of the Challenge Championship earns a berth into the Champion of Champions.

Bred and raced by Carolyn Bay’s T-Bill Stables of Claire, Michigan, “Cold Cash” has won more than half of his 24 starts. Among them are nine stakes wins, including an astounding seven Grade 1 races. He was the world champion in 2011 after an impressive sophomore campaign. 

The 5-year-old son of Oak Tree Special this year won the Bank of America Remington Championship Challenge (G2) to qualify for the race. But that was Cold Cash’s only win from five starts this year while racing in top-flight Grade 1 company. In his most recent start, he finished eighth in Last To Fire’s Go Man Go Handicap (G1), but Cold Cash 123 has proven he can win over the Los Alamitos strip – one of those seven Grade 1 races was the 2012 edition of the Go Man Go over the likes of fellow Challenge Championship entrant Sparky E Boy and eventual 2012 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1) winner Rylees Boy.

The 440-yard specialist is training well, reports assistant trainer James Lackey, and is still running big in his races.

In the Remington Park Invitational Championship (G1) for example, Lackey says, Cold Cash was only 1 1/2 lengths off winner Priceless Feature’s track record-setting pace, and completed a time of :21.211 for the 440 yards. “If you tell me my horse is going to run a :21.211 every time I lead him up there, I’ll take it,” he says. “Because nine times out of ten that’ll win the race. And if you watch the race, you’ll see he’s finishing really strong.”

Gilbreath trains his other Challenge entrant for his daughter, Dawn Ivey, who lives in Millsap, Texas. Ivey bred and races If I Were Famous, who will tackle the $200,000 Adequan Derby Challenge Championship (G2). The lightly-raced gelding has made two outs this year, including a third-place finish in the trials and then a win in the $49,590 Adequan Ruidoso Derby Challenge. He has made six career starts and earned $26,811.

“He has kept maturing all summer long,” Lackey says. “He’s just grown up now, gotten out of that baby phase. He’s always been a nice individual, but he’s physically growing up. He’s been training real well. It just didn’t work out where we could get a prep race in him since we’ve been here, but he’s had two really good works, one gate work and one turn-and-go. Both of them he looked excellent in.”

If I Were Famous is out of Dawn’s Ronas Ryon mare Runnin Oner Mind. Runnin Oner Mind, who died this past winter, was bred by Dawn’s grandparents, Joe and Jean Mize.

“I bought two of their broodmares and just started raising babies here on my place,” Dawn says.

If I Were Famous, whom Dawn describes as a “pretty laid-back horse” is from the first crop by champion One Famous Eagle, who last year set an earnings record for a freshman sire.

Dawn also raced the gelding Sassys Tuffy, who was bred by her grandparents, to become a Grade 1 winner who earned $255,930 in his career.

Dawn’s husband, Marty, is one of the partners at Equine Sports Medicine and Surgery in Weatherford, Texas, and they have three daughters, Renae, Macy and Bailey.

Dawn and Macy will be there to cheer on their homebred horse during the final.

The 21st Bank of America Challenge Championships are November 9 at Los Alamitos Race Course at Los Alamitos, California. Watch the festivities live on Q-Racing Video at www.qracingvideo.com and stay tuned to complete coverage from the Q-Racing Journal at www.aqharacing.com.