Challenge Championships: Shiner Blond

Elena Andrade picks up a Shiner.

Quarter Racing Journal

Shiner Blond enjoys attention from Oscar Andrade. PHOTO: Richard Chamberlain

Elena Andrade has just gotten her first taste of Shiner Blond. It’s in her barn at Los Alamitos. The trainer – a Southern California lady – will send out the stakes-winning Make It Anywhere filly Shiner Blond in the $125,000 Merial Distaff Challenge Championship (G1) on Saturday night at the track in Orange County.

Trainer Zachary Quezada sent the 3-year-old palomino filly to Andrade.

“Zach sent her to me and she’s been here close to a month now,” Elena says. “She’s been really easy to deal with. She does everything right, and Zach gave me all the tips I needed to know about her. She just settled in really good.”

A homebred racing for Alfred Aparicio’s A & D Racing at Palacios, Texas, Shiner Blond is the first stakes winner and one of seven winners from 18 starters to represent her breeder. The filly is one of 31 stakes winners and the earners of more than $7 million by her sire, and is one of two winners from five starters out of the Southern Cartel mare Blond Cartel.

Shiner Blond has won two of 11 career races and has earned $26,584. She broke her maiden on her second start, in the trials to last year’s TQHA Sires’ Cup Futurity (RG3) at Retama Park, and then lit the board in the final. The filly also ran in the John Deere Retama Juvenile Challenge.

Shiner Blond has won once in five starts this year, with a 1 1 /2-length score in the July 9 Arapahoe Distaff Challenge in Colorado. She comes into the Merial Challenge Championship off a poor showing in the September 17 Prairie Meadows Distaff Challenge in Iowa.

“I saw her pictures all the time on Facebook, I followed her and always thought, ‘Oh man, she’s beautiful!’,” Andrade says. “So when Zach called and asked if I wanted to take her I was like Ohmygosh, are you kidding??!! Yes, I want her!!!’ I jumped on it! I like flashy and she’s pretty flashy. (laughs) Everybody here calls her ‘Barbie’ because she looks like a Barbie doll.”

Barbie has become a good friend of Andrade’ husband. Oscar Andrade was one of the rising stars among jockeys, coming off a win in the Kindergarten Futurity (G1), when he went down on the track in a wreck in 2001. A paraplegic, he has been in a wheelchair ever since.

“She has really taken to Oscar,” says Elena, while her husband cools the filly’s legs with spray from a water hose. “All of our horses take to him. Some of the outside horses kind of freak out when they see the chair, but all of our horses here at the barn just relax, drop their heads into his lap and get really comfortable. They relax really well with him. And nothing ever seems to bother Barbie.”

The filly is in good hands with the Andrades.

“I met Zach a few years back when I went to the Challenge Championships at Prairie Meadows,” she says. “He helped me out over there and so when he had a horse qualified to come out here I thought I could pay back the favor. The most important thing was that after her trip out here, Barbie was eating good and fitted into our program perfectly, and I think that’s kind of why Zach sent her to me. We’re kind of a smaller barn and we can give each of our horses more individual attention and care.”

In addition to Shiner Blond, the Andrades will saddle two starters in the $200,000 Adequan Derby Challenge Championship (G3): Corona Suerte, a stakes-placed Coronas Prospect gelding that has earned $31,396, and Lonely In Front BR, a stakes-winning Favorite Cartel filly that has bankrolled $24,412. Corona Suerte came to the Andrades from Oklahoma, Lonely In Front BR from Mexico.

But back to Shiner Blond.

The filly was bred and foaled only about 90 miles – a drive of an hour and a half, which is right down the road in the Lone Star State – from Shiner, Texas, where the Spoetzl Brewery produces Shiner Bock and Shiner Blonde beer.

“Oh, I don’t know about that,” Elena says, with a laugh. “I don’t drink beer. I like soda – sweet soda!”

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