angle-left Wrangler Challenge Champion Trainer

Wrangler Challenge Champion Trainer

Mark Hanson earns a year-end title and prepares for a big Challenge Championship night.

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By Andrea Caudill

Trainer Mark Hanson this year picks up the Wrangler Challenge Champion Trainer title after a season that saw his horses earn him an impressive 115 points. 

The Idaho-based trainer says that the Bank of America Racing Challenge is an important part of their racing program. 

“With our racing primarily in Idaho, the opportunities aren’t really there compared to New Mexico or California,” Hanson said. “So to run in a lucrative race, the Challenge is pretty much it. (It) gives us opportunities to not only run our 2-year-olds, but our older horses. 

“I really enjoy the Challenge program for providing those opportunities at tracks that maybe aren’t on the national circuit,” he continued. “A lot of times they’ve given races to smaller fair tracks that aren’t very well known, but through the Challenge program it’s kept it alive and thriving, in my opinion.”

On Saturday, Hanson will saddle Kool Odds in the $250,000 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1), Rob That Wagon in the $150,000 Adequan® Derby Challenge Championship (G2) and both Sables Dashin and Thrill Of The Cartel in the $125,000 John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship (G3). 

Kool Odds was bred by Dr. Steve Burns and is by Favorite Cartel and out of Kool Kue Chick, by Chicks Beduino, and is a dual qualifier having won Bank of America regional races at both Emerald Downs and Sandy Downs. He is owned by Hanson Racing LLC and Robin Dunn, and has six wins from 14 starts and earnings of $74,013. 

“Kool Odds, he’s as tough as they come,” Hanson said. “He’s a true 440 specialist, he’s traveled every time he’s ran and seems to take his track with him.”

Rob That Wagon is by PYC Paint Your Wagon and out of First Tea Rose, and was bred by Bob and Jerry Gaston. The horse hasn’t been worse than second in his 13 most recent starts, including winning his four most recent starts, although this race’s 400 yard distance is not his most preferred distance. The gelding, owned by Robin Dunn and RTM Stables, was training on the muscle this week.

“He’s another ultra-consistent horse,” Hanson said. “He’s smart. Everything’s a game to him, nothing really riles him or sets him off. He seems to be training well, he settled in and is eating good. He just needs some racing luck.”

Thrill Of The Cartel is owned by Hanson Racing and Robin and Kevin Dunn. The sorrel gelding is by Favorite Cartel and out of the Mr Jess Perry mare License To Thrill. He was bred by Fulton Quien Sabe Ranch, and has three career wins from five starts, and earnings of $25,160. In his most recent start, he won the John Deere Emerald Downs Juvenile Challenge. 

“He’s had a few issues leaving the gate clean, and that’s probably cost him a better placing in the Bitteroot Futurity and the Rocky Mountain Futurity (where the horse was fifth and third, respectively),” Hanson said. “He stood really good here at this starting gate.

"I think he has a lot of raw talent, and I’m excited to see what he can do later in his life," he added. "I think he’s one that likes distance.” 

Also loading up in the gate will be Sables Dashin, a brown gelding by FDD Dynasty and out of the PYC Paint Your Wagon mare Painted Sable. This horse is owned by RTM Stables, Larry Chapple and Rob Dunn, and punched his ticket for the Championships by winning the John Deere Pocatello Downs Juvenile Challenge on September 15. 

“Sables Dashin was a little bit of a late bloomer,” Hanson said. “We gave him some time. He’s just big and a little bit immature to run early, but with the Challenge (race) running in September, we knew he had talent and was maturing, so we gave him a chance. He’s just a big kid. He’s getting better with every out.  I think he has a lot of talent.” 
For winning the Wrangler Challenge Champion Trainer award, Hanson will receive $5,000 in cash, and a custom buckle from Awards Recognition Concepts. 

And on Saturday night, his horses might have more in store.  

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