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January 14, 2012
Champion of Champions (G1) winner Good Reason SA was named the 2011 Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Racing Association Horse of the Year while Abigail Kawananakoa was honored with the prestigious Frank Vessels Sr. Memorial Award in appreciation of her outstanding contributions to the sport of Quarter Horse Racing during the PCQHRA Awards Banquet held on Thursday evening in the Finish Line Room at Los Alamitos Race Course.
Owned by Gianni Samaja and trained by Paul Jones, Good Reason SA received Quarter Horse racing’s top honor in California after a campaign in which he won the Los Alamitos Winter Championship (G2) in February and the Champion of Champions in December and competed in a slew of outstanding Grade 1 events the rest of the season. Good Reason SA was also honored as the top aged stallion.
Kawananakoa, who was the winning owner of the inaugural running of the Los Alamitos Million Futurity (G1) with Evening Snow in 1995 and has campaigned major horses like A Classic Dash, Time For Royal Cash and Divide The Cash to name a few, was introduced by Los Alamitos Race Course owner Ed Allred.
“She has been involved in American Quarter Horse racing from the word go,” said Allred during his intro. “She’s active at the horse sale, breeds outstanding horses and has stallions standing in California. She is involved in every facet of the industry. She has two executive memberships in the Vessels Club and we better be ready when she comes to the track. She wants things to be done right. She is the Princess of Quarter Horse racing and we treat her as a princess and we respect her as one.”
Kawananakoa described her Vessels honor as the “zenith” of her life in horse racing.
“It is a pleasure to accept this award and what it means to me,” Kawananakoa added. “Quarter Horse racing has been part of my life and I can’t remember ever being disappointed by it even when it was a year between wins. There’s always a good camaraderie between those involved in racing.
“I remember when I visited Vessels Stallion Farm once and I was waiting for Millie Vessels when I saw this great white stallion. I was staring at him because he was so beautiful. He started coming towards me and just kept on coming. All of the sudden I started thinking, ‘He’s coming straight at me!’ Just before he got to me he put on the brakes. Millie then came out and I just asked her ‘Who is that?’ That was Beduino.
“(PCQHRA President) Bud Alessio called me earlier this week to ask if I was coming to this awards banquet,” Kawananakoa added. “I asked him if I was getting an award and he said ‘maybe’. I told him, ‘Okay, I am going to go, but if I don’t get an award I’m going to be upset with you.’ You’ve made this night the zenith of my life in horse racing.”
Allred was named owner and breeder of the year, while a special recognition awards for owner went to Double Bar S Ranch LLC and a special recognition award for breeder went to Burns Ranch. Paul Jones was the trainer of the year and trainer special recognition went to Juan Aleman. Rodrigo Aceves was the jockey of the year while Eduardo Nicasio received the jockey special recognition award. The Val Tonks Memorial Award for top up-and-coming jockey went to both Cruz Mendez and Antonio Alberto. Thoroughbred honors went to owner Mike Flory, trainer Charles Treece and jockey Ramon Guce. Other top awards went to the Walk Thru Fire Syndicate’s Walk Thru Fire as top stallion and Childers Ranch’s Last Shall Be First as top broodmare. Wade Siegel was the recipient of the Sam Thompson Memorial Award for his great leadership for the Los Alamitos racing community. Siegel is on the PCQHRA board and serves on the boards for both the Quarter Horse Benevolent Foundation and the Los Alamitos division of the Race Track Chaplaincy of America.
Divisional racing honors went to Igotyourtac as top 2-year-old colt; I Like The Odds as top 2-year-old gelding; Separate Fire as top 2-year-old filly; One Sweet Jess as top 3-year-old colt; El Aguila Real as top 3-year-old gelding; Miss Racy Jess as top 3-year-old filly; Good Reason SA as top aged stallion; Jess You And I as top aged gelding; Fovee as top aged mare; Pathological Liar at top distance horse; Senor Toby as most improved; and Dudek Custus as iron horse.
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