Challenge Championships: Time For Wine

Let's raise a glass to the distaffers.

Quarter Racing Journal

Time For Wine. PHOTO: Richard Chamberlain

Time For Wine is enjoying her return to the West Coast. Born in California but raced exclusively in Texas, the 4-year-old daughter of Mr Jess Perry will contest the $125,000 Merial Distaff Challenge Championship (G1) on Saturday night at Los Alamitos.

“She’s a baby doll to handle,” says trainer Leon Bard. “She’s a good, solid aged mare who doesn’t have any real quirks about her. I look for her to run really good.”

Bred by Vessels Stallion Farm and racing for Pete Scarmardo of Caldwell, Texas, Time For Wine is one of 134 stakes winners and the earners of more than $49 million by her sire. The sorrel mare is out of the winning First Down Dash mare Fine Wines, who ran in the 2003 La Primera Del Ano Derby (G2). Time For Wine is a half-sister to the graded stakes-winning Heza Fast Dash mare Onemoreglassofwine ($118,065).

“I got her as a 3-year-old,” Bard says. “Guy Hopkins had her as a 2-year-old and I got her when Guy retired and moved back to Montana. I’ve had her ever since.”

A career winner of three of 14 races with a $31,793 bankroll, Time For Wine scored her first stakes victory and earned her berth in the Challenge Championships in the April 30 Merial Texas Distaff Challenge Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park. The mare was making her first start since November 6, when she ran fourth in the AQHA Members Plus Stakes at Lone Star Park.

“She’s always been a pretty nice mare,” Bard says. “But she’s not a real good doer at times, and she never runs back good. When she’s fresh, she runs good – or she always has in the past. When we ran her in Houston, that was her first out of the year and she won that deal pretty easy.

“We didn’t run her again at Houston,” he says. “We ran her at Retama and she ran second in the Selma Stakes (on June 18) and then she had a bad out (in the King William Handicap on July 9). So I took her with me to Lone Star but I didn’t run her. I just trained her and worked her to get ready for California. I sent her out fresh and ready to run, because the mare doesn’t do well and doesn’t eat good sometimes when you move her. So I just tried to make sure she was fresh, ready and had plenty of time to rest and eat.”

Bard sent Time For Wine to Brian Stroud, who owns and trains former world champion JRC Callas First. On Saturday night, Stroud will saddle JRC Callas First in the $350,000 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1) and Time For Wine in the Distaff.

Bard last year saddled Careless Lightning to win the John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship (G2) at Lone Star Park.

“Brian and I work together a lot,” Bard says. “Brian is a good guy. Francisco Calderon has been her regular rider and he’ll fly out there on Friday and ride her. Everything has already been done with Time For Wine, so all they’ve got to do is run her. Brian is going to enter and run her in his name, but he’s running her for me.”

Time For Wine rode to California in the same trailer with JRC Callas First and will have been at Los Alamitos for nearly three weeks by the time she goes to gate in the Distaff.

“Time For Wine will represent Texas good,” Bard says. “She’s a good mare. She’s not a real big-time mare, but she’ll do alright. We’ll see what happens and go from there.”

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