Challenge: Team Effort

The Hanson family relies on good friends, good horses and teamwork.

Q-Racing Journal

Ryan Hanson bathes champion Honoroso while Susan Hanson holds the leadshank. PHOTO: Andrea Caudill

The Hanson family of Pocatello, Idaho, know horses, and they have trained a lot of good ones.

Ryan and his mom, Susan, give credit first and foremost to their owners and partners, as well as the horses. They also add that success takes a lot of work from their team, which includes dad Jim, and brother Mark, as well as sister Theresa. The Hansons own many of their horses in the name of their RTM Stables, which represents the initials of the children.

“It’s a team effort, it really is,” Susan says.

At last year’s Challenge Championships, Ryan sent out JR Dynasty Mountain to win the $202,000 Adequan Derby Challenge Championship (G2) over a field that included eventual Mexican champion One Famous Episode, and Honoroso to win the $100,000 Red Cell Distance Challenge Championship (G1).

This weekend, ex-jockey-turned-trainer Ryan will start four horses – Michael McKay and Pat Vanpelt’s Fergilicious in the Zoetis Starter Allowance Challenge Championship, and three horses his family co-owns: Sign Of Corona in the Adequan Derby Challenge Championship (G3), Ynot Walk in the John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship (G2) and reigning champion Honoroso in the Red Cell Distance Challenge Championship (G1).

Fergilicous is a 4-year-old daughter of Volcom out of the Meter Me Gone mare JN Sonoma Rose, and was bred by McKay. She has won five of 15 career starts, including her most recent three starts. Four starts ago, she qualified for the Zoetis Starter Allowance by running for a $5,000 tag at Los Alamitos. She returned to Les Bois Park to win her Zoetis Les Bois Starter Allowance trial, and then won the final by a nose.

Hanson picked up training duties after that, and found her a race at the Eastern Idaho Fair to get her tuned up for the $75,000 Zoetis Starter Allowance Challenge Championship.

The Hanson brothers found Ynot Walk, a Walk Thru Fire out of the Chicks Beduino mare Ynot Bar, at last year’s Los Alamitos Equine Sale. They bid up to $20,000 – their max budget – but got the horse for $22,000 when their dad and George and Judy Weldon chipped in to partner on the horse.

Running only at Los Alamitos in his six starts to date, the gelding contested the trials of the Kindergarten Futurity (G2) and Ed Burke Million Futurity (G1), narrowly missing qualifying. He crossed the wire on top in a maiden effort in July, but was disqualified to third for interference. He broke his maiden officially in the $35,550 John Deere Los Alamitos Juvenile Challenge, winning by a neck.

“He’s just been knocking on the door in all these futurities,” Ryan says. “He’s just an honest, good horse.”

The sorrel gelding bred by Dr. Steve Burns was bouncing cheerfully around his stall early in the week.

Susan is partners with Carol McKinney on the Coronas Fast Dash gelding Sign Of Corona. They paid all of $2,800 for the horse at the 2012 Los Alamitos Equine Sale, purchasing him from breeder Greg Creager. The partners ran the gelding by Coronas Fast Dash and out of the Vital Sign mare Electric Sign only twice as a 2-year-old – the trials and finals of the $25,480 Rocky Mountain Spring Classic Futurity, the latter of which he won.

But wanting only what was best for the horse, they decided he needed more time, so they turned him out to enjoy the Idaho weather, to mature and just be a horse.

Sign Of Corona returned to the races a year later, with a sizzling trial win for the Rocky Mountain Spring Classic Derby. A tough trip saw him finish fourth behind stablemate BF Candy Cartel in the final. He next was second behind the ultra-consistent Time For Jesse Lee in the Adequan Les Bois Derby Challenge. He then not only turned the tables on Time For Jesse Lee, but flipped it – he won the $36,356, 400-yard final in a smoking :19.235, setting a track record and earning a 110 speed index.

That isn’t even his career-best speed index. That came in his next start, the $17,550 Eastern Idaho Fair Bonus Challenge, where he went up against older horses to run 400 yards in :19.620 and earn a 111 speed index in preparation for the $175,000 Adequan Derby Challenge Championship. He has earned $37,574 in his career to date.

Their fourth horse is a familiar face to racing fans – the face of the reigning distance champion and the winner of last year’s Red Cell Distance Challenge Championship. Bred by Sassy Farms LLC, Honoroso is by Fly Jess Fly and out of the Spanish Boot mare Abla Espanol. Now 5, Honoroso was claimed in 2012 by Jim Hanson and Richard Gardner for $6,250.

The horse was a little sour, and required work from the Hansons, jockey Alan Corson and a little R&R to straighten him out. In September 2012, he won the $22,355 Hadtobenuts Derby at Sandy Downs before switching to the hook and never looking back.

He has won nine of his 11 career distance starts, including his last six races. Among those are last year’s Distance Challenge Championship and three wins this year, including a three-length romp in the Red Cell Les Bois Distance Challenge. He has earned $104,857 in his career.

While it was a long, 20-hour drive for the Hansons to get to Iowa from their home base, it was one they were eager to make.

“When we saw the Challenge was coming back to Prairie Meadows, we started planning,” Susan said.

And so far, the plan is working out well.

The Bank of America Challenge Championships are October 18 at Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa. Stay tuned to complete coverage from the Q-Racing Journal at

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