Meet 'Sunny,' Triple Crown Winner Justify's Pony Horse
As Justify (TB) prepared for the Triple Crown, his constant companion was a palomino American Quarter Horse by the name of Wimpys High Roller.
By Tara Matsler, managing editor of AQHA's Performance Horse Journal | May 19, 2018
Three years ago, I was admittedly obsessed with a precious-yet-sassy buckskin best known for escorting his stablemate, American Pharoah (TB). American Pharoah – yes, you may have heard of him. He won this little thing called the Triple Crown, then cruised to a win in the Breeder's Cup Classic, clinching Thoroughbred racing's Grand Slam. But I digress.
American Pharoah is incredible, however, where my heart lies is with "Smokey." AP's former escort horse and American Quarter Horse BFF is owned by trainer Bob Baffert. Registered as This Whiz Shines, Smokey got his start in the reining pen before transitioning over to ponying Thoroughbreds.
Three years later, Bob Baffert has saddled another Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes and ultimately Triple Crown winner, Justify. If you had your eyes on Justify as he prepared to take on the Triple Crown, you saw his pony horse, Wimpys High Roller, also known as "Sunny."
Like Smokey, Sunny is owned by trainer Bob Baffert, and Sunny also sports some fancy reining bloodlines. The 2009 palomino gelding is by NRHA $10 million sire Wimpys Little Step and out of Shining High Roller by NRHA $4 million sire Shining Spark. Sunny was bred by Greg Hill of Huron, Ohio, and eventually made his way into Bob's ownership in July 2013.
Just like American Pharoah and Smokey were constant companions, so are Justify and Sunny. When Justify arrived at Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport for May 19's Preakness Stakes, first off the plane was Sunny.
Since Smokey-as-an-escort became a familiar sight for the casual racing fan, thanks to American Pharoah, some tweeters misidentified poor Sunny. It's not easy living life in the public eye, especially when you're mistaken for your stablemate.
It's OK, Sunny, you're fast becoming one of my favorites.
Well Pat McDonogh wins the cutest picture of the year so far. #Justify and his little buddy Smokey share some grub before flying to Baltimore for the @PreaknessStakes. #AirHorseOne #Preakness https://t.co/pY51smmLi0 pic.twitter.com/Eac5gxSWJZ— Scott Utterback (@Utterback13) May 16, 2018
It was from Twombly Performance Horses that Bob purchased both Sunny and Smokey. John Twombly has been in touch with the Thoroughbred trainer, and reports that while we've seen a lot of Sunny ponying Justify during his workouts.
Bob Baffert lopes Wimpys High Roller, or "Sunny," in 2015. In the May 2015 issue of America's Horse magazine, "Where the Journey Began" shared Bob's path to Thoroughbred racing success. Bob grew up on a ranch in Arizona and got his start in Quarter Horse racing, where he saw much success as a trainer and as a jockey. (Credit: Zoe Metz Photography)
Newly-crowned Triple Crown champion JUSTIFY, with his buddy Sunny, leaving New York's Islip airport on Tex Sutton's Air Horse One this morning. Safe journeys and looking forward to seeing you both again soon! Thanks for a so-memorable weekend! pic.twitter.com/qkhoLUdKVu— Barbara Livingston (@DRFLivingston) June 11, 2018
Justify and Sunny on the track pic.twitter.com/p8KDQU2jL4— Meredith Daugherty (@BH_MDaugherty) June 4, 2018
"there was an instant star in the Baffert barn."https://t.co/aAYHW9uuIw— Kentucky Derby (@KentuckyDerby) May 31, 2018