Distance Challenge Preview
An early look at the Zoetis Distance Challenge Championship contenders.
By Andrea Caudill | October 28, 2015
The only Grade 1 race for distance horses, the $100,000 Zoetis Distance Challenge Championship (G1) could be a big factor for the year-end distance horse honors. The race is set to run on Bank of America Challenge Championship night, November 7 at Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie.
Let’s take a look at this year’s early contenders, which features the winners of each of the regional races. The final entrants could change up until entry time.
Sensational Dash (Won Zoetis Sunland Distance Challenge (G3), March 28): Owner Gerardo Acosta took advantage of a brand new program rule that said in addition to the existing $2,500 late payment option (that is due at time of sustaining payment), there is a new option to pay a $5,000 late payment at the time of entry for trials, regardless of whether trials are actually conducted. The mare promptly paid him back by winning the race despite going six-wide. She faded in the May 30 Fine Loom Handicap at Ruidoso Downs, but posted a workout on October 8 at the Downs at Albuqeruque, going 220 yards in :11.93.
Dashers Midnight (Won Zoetis Sam Houston Distance Challenge, April 11): Kudos to this Challenge and race veteran. The Joe and Elaine McAnally homebred will make his 41st career start, and his third in the Challenge Championships. So far he’s been second both times – maybe this is his year to win it all in his home state. The 8-year-old most recently ran second in an 870-yard allowance at Lone Star on October 10 behind Jess Twice Cash.
Mickey Ward (Won Zoetis Turf Paradise Distance Challenge, April 26): Arizona-bred Mickey Ward will represent his breeders Ralph and Carolyn Fales of Coolidge, Arizona. The FDD Dynasty gelding won the Turf Paradise regional race via disqualification, and comes into the race off a fifth-place finish in the May 30 Fine Loom Handicap. He posted a workout on October 15 at Turf Paradise, going 660 yards in :36.14.
Painted Josy (Won Zoetis Remington Distance Challenge, May 10): A win by Painted Josy would be a family affair for the Carter family of Nowata, Oklahoma. G.R. Carter Jr. has had many victories on Challenge Championships night, but this would be the first aboard a horse his family bred and raised. Painted Josy has been second or better in 5-of-7 starts this year, and most recently was fifth in the October 4 Herman Jefferson Stakes at Zia Park.
Lil Dip A Nitro (Won Zoetis Les Bois Distance Challenge, July 29): Dawna Jenkins and Dennis Cain’s Royal Miracle Dip gelding won his regional race by a length, and he goes into this race having lit the board in every start so far this year. The 5-year-old posted quickening 660-yard workouts at Lone Star, with a :37.58 on October 7, followed by a :37.53 on October 22.
KR Streakin Version (Won Zoetis Evergreen Distance Challenge, August 1): KR Streakin Version has already made one long trek from his home base in Canada to represent his owners and country, contesting the 2013 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1). He returns for owners Richard Aldoff and M. Christensen in the Distance Challenge with a 4-for-5 record on the year, and marking 106 or higher speed indexes in his four most recent starts (all victories). He worked on October 17 at Lone Star, going 660 yards in :35.61.
Jess Twice Cash (Won Zoetis Lone Star Distance Challenge, October 3): Jess Twice Cash has the home field advantage, as he won his regional race by daylight over last year’s Distance Championship winner, Jessa Little Rusty. Racing for Ty Remington of Bokchito, Oklahoma, he comes into the race off an October 10 allowance win over Dashers Midnight.
CR Tuckernuck (Won Zoetis Will Rogers Distance Challenge, October 11): A Grade 1 horse on the straightaway, CR Tuckernuck this summer switched to the hook and is only a neck away from perfection in four starts. They include the Bill Reed Memorial Stakes and the Zoetis Will Rogers in his two most recent starts. He races for young Karlottie Grace Urschel of Canadian, Texas.
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