Challenge: Talented Ladies

Three fillies look for Championship gold.

Q-Racing Journal

Great Grace is preparing for the Adequan Derby Challenge Championship. PHOTO: Q-Racing Journal/Andrea Caudill

A trio of talented fillies will represent trainer Gilbert Aguirre on Bank of America Challenge Championships night at Lone Star Park.

Sophomore Great Grace is preparing for the $200,000 Adequan Derby Challenge Championship (G3), while Visual Magic and Cheyenne Hero are both prepping for the $100,000 Merial Distaff Challenge Championship (G1).

Great Grace is a daughter of Apollitical Jess bred by Geo Suthers of Sayre, Oklahoma. Co-owner George Mitchell of Midland, Texas, bought her as a yearling for $42,000 at the Heritage Place Yearling Sale, and now owns her in partnership with Bobby and Laura Herricks. Her sire, of course, is the leading second-year sire and No. 3 sire of money earners overall. Her dam is a sister to leading sire Holland Ease, champion Four Forty Blast, major producers Las Alamitos and Dividends Declared, and more.

Great Grace last year was third in both the $791,000 Remington Park Oklahoma-Bred Futurity (RG3) and $371,227 Dash For Cash Futurity (G1). This year she was a finalist in the $306,000 Remington Park Oklahoma-Bred Derby (RG3), and then headed to Ruidoso where she won the $52,650 Adequan Ruidoso Derby Challenge.

“She ran about three weeks ago in an allowance (at Lone Star), we used it as a prep race for her,” said assistant trainer Paul Leal. “She looked really sharp winning by about a length or so, and it looks like she’s ready to run.”

Turner Farms’ Visual Magic is a tenacious runner, and she will have a home field advantage in the Distaff Challenge Championship as she posted a length victory in the October 3 Merial Lone Star Distaff Challenge.

The 3-year-old daughter of leading sire Corona Cartel out of the Strawfly Special mare Tender Flyer was bred in California by Legacy Ranch. Her mother was also a successful Challenge competitor during her career, earning more than half of her $68,243 lifetime earnings in the program. Visual Magic is a full sister to champion and Grade 1 producer Flying Fig ($806,920).

Visual Magic has been third or better in eight of her nine career starts, while racing against horses such as Apollitical Blood ($1,507,33), JM Miracle ($1,466,160), Politicaly Correct ($353,684), and more.

“Visual Magic, what can I say? That filly is tough to beat, period,” Leal said. “When she gets away in front, she has so much grit she doesn’t want anybody to pass her. She’s a really nice filly to be around.”

Aguirre's other competitor is Cheyenne Hero, who ran second to Visual Magic in the Lone Star Distaff. The dapple gray daughter of Valiant Hero will represent James Bailey’s Canadian River Quarter Horses LLC of Norman, Oklahoma.

Bred by Lana Merrick and Kent Jackson, she is out of the Feature Mr Jess mare Illegal Feature, making her a full sister to champion Feature Hero ($1,418,980).

 Cheyenne Hero.
PHOTO: Q-Racing Journal/Andrea Caudill

Cheyenne Hero has won or placed in half of her 10 career starts while earning $28,071.

“We like her chances, too,” Leal said. “She didn’t get away all that great in the (Lone Star Distaff). But she’s doing really great right now, she’s training awesome. So we’re hoping for good things from her.”

The three ladies are waiting for the big ball on November 7.

“All three are really laid back,” Leal said. “They’re really docile, smart horses.”

And all three are runners.

The Bank of America Challenge Championships are November 7 at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas. Stay tuned to complete coverage from the Q-Racing Journal at

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