Family Tradition

Gone Fast and her best friend will go to post tonight in the Distaff Challenge.

Gone Fast is the third generation of her family to compete in the Challenge Championships. PHOTO: Richard Chamberlain

Gone Fast is doing what she is bred to do, carrying on what her family has been doing for more than three decades.

A fifth-generation homebred racing for Sharon and Gary Mueller’s Phoenix Farms at Idaho Falls, Idaho, the 4-year-old black mare by Meter Me Lucky will break from the 9 post in Saturday’s $105,000 Boehringer Ingelheim Distaff Challenge Championship (G1) at Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa.

“Gone Fast is a diva and that’s what we call her: ’Diva’,” Sharon said. “Diva’s dynamite in a small package. She’s not very big, but her little motor is always running, never really shifts into neutral. She’s kind, doesn’t have a mean bone in her body, but she’s very aware of everything. She likes people to do things her way. Sometimes that’s the way we’d like her to do things, sometimes it’s not.”

An earner of $31,948, Gone Fast has won three of 15 career races, and this year scored in the July 15 Jack Rhoden Memorial Bonus Challenge at the Crooked River Roundup in Prineville, Oregon. Diva earned her berth in the Distaff with a second-place finish in the May 7 Sun Downs Distaff Challenge in Washington.

Her dam, the stakes-winning Hawkinson mare Beautiful Ashlee, won the 2010 Evergreen Park Distaff Challenge in Grande Prairie, Alberta, and ran in champion Spit Curl Diva’s Merial Distaff Challenge Championship (G1) at Fair Grounds in New Orleans.

Her second dam, the stakes-winning Jazzing Hi mare Im A Jazz Fan ($44,156), won the 1997 Northwest Challenge at Les Bois Park in Boise, Idaho, and ran in Winlotsa Cash’s AQHA Derby Challenge Championship (G1) at Los Alamitos.

It’s been a long and winding road.

“When I was new to the race business, Alamitos Bar was a famous sire,” said Sharon, who with her husband publishes business and lifestyle magazines for local and regional markets around Idaho Falls and southern Idaho. “I wanted a daughter of Alamitos Bar in the worst way, and I bought one on time because I couldn’t afford to buy her straight out. Her name was Anonymous Call and she was in foal to Leinster House (TB). We named her baby We Make House Calls, who won several races for us. That was when Sgt Pepper Feature and his full sister Leading Star were running. I looked at those two champions and their mother (the Thoroughbred mare Marketina, by Corner The Market) and I thought what would you want? Well, you’d want a Thoroughbred mare with a speed pedigree and speed conformation and showed speed herself.

“My Leinster House mare had all those things,” she continues. “I bred her to Jazzing Hi and got Im A Jazz Fan, who won the Idaho Cup Derby (RG3) and Northwest Derby Challenge (G3), and ran third in the Boise Derby (G3). The Derby Challenge was the first Challenge race we ever entered, and she beat a really nice field. Fabulous Form ($206,334) was in there and she was a champion the next year.

“Then we bred Im A Jazz Fan to Hawkinson and got Beautiful Ashlee, who was the only baby we had that year, 2005, and we named her for our granddaughter,” Sharon says. “Beautiful Ashlee won the Distaff in Canada for us, and we took her to New Orleans.

“Gone Fast is Beautiful Ashlee’s first foal, and she is by our stallion Meter Me Lucky (Meter Me Gone-Lucks Go Go Gay by What Luck (TB)), who we bred and raised,” she said. “So we’ve had five generations of her mama’s family and two generations of her sire’s family.

“And Diva’s lucky to be alive. When she was born, her mother was having trouble, kicking and thrashing, and she whacked her baby’s head on the sidewall of the stall. I thought it had killed her. We were lucky – both the mare and baby lived. But Diva had a rough start, so we blame her attitude on it. Maybe if you’d got whacked in the head when you were born, you’d have an attitude, too.

“But we’ve learned to work around her,” Sharon concluded. “That’s what I like about Skyler. He doesn’t try to work over them, he tries to work with them. Diva needs that.”

Skyler Greene is Diva’s trainer.

“Diva lives up to her name,” said the 29-year-old horseman who lives in Preston, Idaho, with wife Amanda and daughters Paislee, 5; Kadence, 3; and now Kollynn, who was born yesterday, October 13. “Diva gives us lots of problems, gets a little rowdy sometimes. She and my other horse in the Distaff, Tic Tac Attack, are attached at the hip and you can’t separate them without them getting all worried and worked up.”

Tic Tac Attack runs in the name of BDS Performance Horses, which is the partnership of Skyler and his father, Brent Greene. An earner of $28,305, Tic Tac Attack is a 4-year-old brown mare by Tac It Like A Man out of the winning Separatist mare Harney Girl.

“Both of these horses are really good in the gate, once they get in there,” he said. “Diva tends to be a diva, wants to wander around behind, doesn’t like you messing with her, and is a little hard to load. Once they’re both in, they both stand really good and they get away really good. They’re both really fast early, too, so as long as they break the way they usually do they’ll be in it early.”

The Distaff is 400 yards. Diva’s best distance is 250-300 yards, Tic Tack Attack’s a little farther.

“Hopefully, they can hang on – Diva gives you everything she’s got every time she runs,” Greene said. “Tac runs really well early, too, but if she gets in front early, she tends to kind of look around and get lost, gets herself caught. So I don’t know if either of them can finish with those nice horses here, but that’s why you put them in the gate.”

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