About the Program

See schedules, forms, leaders lists, and championship information for the Challenge program.

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Since the AQHA Racing Challenge began in 1993, the program has distributed more than $100 million to breeders and owners of racing American Quarter Horses. 

The AQHA Racing Challenge program's primary focus is on horses three years old and older.  When the Challenge began in 1993, it was founded with the intention to help owners, trainers and horses reap the rewards of longer racing careers. Only a small percentage of American Quarter Horses are still stakes-caliber beyond the age of 4, but those that have not been retired or transferred to the breeding sheds have become some of the biggest superstars in racing. 

Once a horse enrolls into the Racing Challenge program, it is eligible to participate in any Racing Challenge race offered. 

Five divisions of the Racing Challenge program cover a wide spectrum of competition: 

  • The AQHA Championship Challenge division is a 440-yard race for 3-year-olds and up. It showcases some of the industry's finest horses.
  • The Adequan Derby Challenge division is a 400-yard race for 3-year-olds. 
  • The John Deere Juvenile Challenge division is a 350-yard race for 2-year-olds. 
  • The Cox Ranch Distaff Challenge division is reserved for fillies and mares 3-year-olds and up and ran at 400 yards.
  • The Lip Chip LLC Distance Challenge division spotlights the distance specialists, running at 870 yards, and is open to all 3-year-olds and up.

In addition to recognizing the winners of each Challenge Championship race in the Fall, AQHA and its generous sponsors will recognize a leading jockey, trainer, owner and breeder.  These individuals will be recognized at the Owner Recognition Brunch held the morning prior to the running of the AQHA Challenge Championship races.