Pedigree Analysis: Air Born Leader

Indiana's all-time leading earner wins again.

Q-Racing Journal

Air Born Leader wins the Born Runner Classic.

Well done, Air Born Leader.

On Saturday, the gray gelding pulled away to his 12th win – and sixth in a stakes – in a 32-race career. The win boosted the Indiana-bred’s earnings to $448,901. That is an excellent bankroll for any horse, but especially one who has never raced outside of Indiana. The $114,000 Born Runner Classic at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino is his fourth consecutive victory in the race, which is named for his dam’s sire, and was done in stakes-record time as well.

Air Born Leader races for his owner and breeder Randy Thompson of Brazil, Indiana. His earnings have helped Thompson become the all-time leading owner at Indiana Grand and surpass the $1 million mark in earnings as an owner.

The 6-year-old is by Leader Of The Class and is out of the Born Runner mare Air Born Jazz.

Leader Of The Class was a Texas-bred son of Special Leader and was bred by Robert Zoch of Lincoln, Texas. Leader Of The Class’s sire, of course, was the sport’s 1991 world champion and himself a sire of earners of more than $13.5 million.

Leader Of The Class was foaled in 1996 out of the Thoroughbred mare Zevis Classy Lady by Zevi. The mare provided the sprint blood of top Thoroughbred sire Zevi, crossed on a classic-blooded mare who traced to Determine, Hyperion and Sir Gaylord. Zevis Classy Lady produced four winners from five starters and was exported to Mexico.

Purchased as a yearling by the Cleary Family of Indiana, Leader Of The Class made his career at Mt. Pleasant Meadows in Michigan and Hoosier Park in Indiana. Winning or placing in nine of 17 starts, he earned $12,163 and a top speed index of 90. Owned by Kevin Cleary and George Gowens late in his life, the stallion sired only 41 starters. Of those, however, 19 were winners and four were stakes winners, and his progeny have earned more than $1 million. His other stakes winners include CT Leader ($185,929), a three-quarters brother to Air Born Leader; as well as Im Leadin Yawl ($69,754) and Leaders Policy ($29,946).  

Air Born Leader’s mama, Air Born Jazz, was also a homebred for Thompson, who foaled her out of the Air Marshal mare Prissy Marshal in 1996. The Born Runner daughter had a solid racing career with 25 starts and 13 placings, with $52,377 in earnings. She won the 1999 QHRAI Stallion Service Auction Derby (R) and was second in both the QHRAI Stallion Service Auction Futurity (R) and Kansas Jackpot Derby (RG3).

She produced five winners from six starters. While Air Born Leader is her most successful, she is also dam to stakes-placed runner Ima Jr Special (by Special Leader, $95,070)

Her sire Born Runner was a son of Rocket Wrangler who sired 53 winners from 106 starters and the earners of more than $514,000. Owned by C.W. Mullenix of Carbon, Indiana, the stallion died in 2009.

“We brought him (Born Runner) in to our farm in Carbon from Oklahoma in 1988,” said Mullenix. “He changed the scenery of Quarter Horse racing in the state of Indiana. I’m very touched with what the folks (Quarter Horse Racing Association of Indiana) have done in honor of him with this race. And all five years (the race has been held), the winners have been out of Born Runner mares, which makes it exceptionally nice.”

Dam Prissy Marshal was a very productive broodmare. Herself a stakes winner, she produced 10 winners from 11 starters, including three stakes winners and five stakes-placed runners. She is the dam of additional stakes winners and full siblings to Air Born Jazz, Air Born Babe ($21,299) and Air Born Legend ($19,374). She also produced stakes-placed runners: Royal T Marshal (by This Snow Is Royal, $43,935), Air Dashin Annie (by Twaynas Dash, $39,986), Air Born Lightning (by Born Runner, $23,861), Prissys Born Winner (by Born Runner, $14,705) and Prissys Born Smoker (by Born Runner, $7,416).

Her winning daughter Air Born Magic, a full sister to Air Born Jazz, is the dam of the aforementioned CT Leader, as well as stakes winner Sum Fun For Magic (by Sum Fun To Bet, $135,092) and Doc Special (by Jess Special, $76,665).

This immediate family also produced stakes winner Rock Own ($27,610) and stakes-placed runners Extra Bequest ($25,984), Marshals Request ($9,873) and Talk Back ($7,564).

Speaking of keeping it in the family: After winning the stakes named for his dam’s sire, Air Born Leader is expected to return later this year, most likely looking for a repeat in the Bob Woodward Memorial Stakes on August 9, but will surely be looking on proudly as Indiana Grand honors his sire with the Leader Of The Class Stakes on July 5. Now that is some good company to keep.

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