Top 12 'Smokey' Moments From the Triple Crown
From escorting American Pharoah to trackside interviews, former reiner This Whiz Shines, aka “Smokey,” is getting time in the spotlight and making us AQHA Proud.
By Tara Matsler | June 6, 2015
It has been a long 37 years since the world has seen a Triple Crown winner in Thoroughbred horse racing. While the media swarms American Pharoah, the 12th Triple Crown winner, they’re also giving plenty attention to his best equine pal, a charismatic buckskin American Quarter Horse registered as This Whiz Shines but known famously as “Smokey.”
The 6-year-old buckskin American Quarter Horse gelding is by Shiners Chex Olena and out of Si Rositas Whiz by Whiz N Chex. Formerly a reining horse, Smokey has earned more than $1,300 in National Reining Horse Association competition. These days, though, Smokey escorts Thoroughbred racehorses to and from their morning workouts and to the starting gates, and Smokey also serves as a mount to news anchors, including legendary trackside reporter Donna Brothers.
It’s not just Smokey who has AQHA ties, though. America knows Bob Baffert, Smokey’s owner and American Pharoah’s trainer, as a leader Thoroughbred racing trainer, but Bob actually got his start with American Quarter Horses.
Needless to say, we are unbelievably #AQHAProud of Bob and Smokey’s achievements and all the attention they’re receiving. In honor of America’s favorite pony horse and the 12th Triple Crown winner, we rounded up 12 of Smokey’s best moments from the week leading up to the Belmont Stakes.
1. Videos start circulating of Smokey in his former career as a reining horse, like this one from the 2012 National Reining Horse Association Futurity.
2. And this one from the 2012 Southwest Reining Horse Association Futurity.
3. Smokey escorts American Pharoah in the Triple Crown contender’s final work before the Belmont.
4. Smokey joins Twitter as @SmokeythePony. His first tweet? A retweet from @BelmontStakes: No one can steal attention from a #TripleCrown hopeful quite like Smokey.
5. BloodHorse.com, dedicated to Thoroughbred racing, posts a feature all about Smokey. In the article, Bob says, “Smokey's my favorite horse in the barn. … These stakes horses, we're with them for a year or two, but Smokey's always going to be there."
6. HRTV.com unveils a new-and-improved fan page for Smokey.
7. Bob Baffert shows off Smokey’s reining moves the day before the Belmont Stakes.
8. Donna Brothers rides Smokey and interviews Victor Espinoza on American Pharoah moments after the landmark race.
9. Smokey heads back home to Churchill Downs; of course, after the magical weekend, he didn’t want to leave.
10. As best buds do, Smokey and American Pharoah share breakfast in Air Horse One on their way back to Churchill Downs.
11. We all know how exhausting flying can be, but Smokey still has enough energy after the flight to ham it up.
12. And then Smokey is up bright and early and right back at it Monday morning. Being a rock-star American Quarter Horse in a world of Thoroughbreds is one of those 24/7 jobs.
Read "Where the Journey Began" in the May 2015 issue of America's Horse magazine.