Q-Racing Blog: Watch Out for the Little Guys

Small breeders make a big impact.

Q-Racing Journal

Small breeders make a big impact

Now is the time for the small breeder. They have always been an influence in Grade 1 stakes and their importance could be on the rise.

A shining example is S-Quarter K LLC located in Kennewick, Washington. Kennewick is approaching 80,000 people located along the Columbia River in southeastern Washington. It’s near where the Snake River and Yakima River join the Columbia River. It’s not near any hotbed of Quarter Horse racing.

S-Quarter K LLC is owned by Kathy and Don Meneely, along with their son Shawn. Kathy said, “I do horses,” while cleaning waterers and talking on the phone.

They have four mares and a couple brilliant geldings, including 2014 champion 2-year-old gelding Heza Dasha Fire ($1,045,240) and his half brother Ima Fearless Hero ($179,065). Heza Dasha Fire is the fastest qualifier, by the equivalent of two lengths, to the $859,400 Los Alamitos Super Derby (G1).

Why was the name changed to Los Alamitos Super Derby in 2004? It was already super when it was the Los Alamitos Derby. Before the name change, it was won by Josie’s Bar, Pokey Bar, Jet Deck, Goetta, Kaweah Bar, Charger Bar, Dash For Cash, Town Policy, Moon Lark, Sgt Pepper Feature, Dashs Dream, Dashing Folly and First Down Dash.

The Walk Thru Fire-sired Heza Dasha Fire will be no higher than 2-5 odds on the morning line to add his name to this stellar list.

In 2014, Heza Dasha Fire earned his championship with a 1 1/4-length win in the $945,000 Ed Burke Million Futurity (G1) and a one-half length victory in $989,100 Golden State Million Futurity (G1).

The $1 million Los Alamitos Cash Bonanza goes to the connections of any horse that can win the Ed Burke, Golden State and the $2 million Los Alamitos Million Futurity (G1).

Heza Dasha Fire finished fourth in the Los Alamitos Two Million and came within one length of taking the million-dollar bonus.

This year, the Jose Flores-trained gelding is 3-for-3 with a daylight win in the $180,200 Golden State Derby (G2), his start before blowing up the Los Alamitos Super Derby trials with his top-qualifying time of :19.488 for 400 yards.

The goal for Heza Dasha Fire is the $600,000 Champion of Champions (G1) on December 12; if he wins the Los Alamitos Super Derby, he’s in the 440-yard classic. If he doesn’t win, there is a strong chance he’ll run in the Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Stakes on November 15 to try to gain his Champion of Champions berth.

The S-Quarter K LLC outfit has four broodmares. They include Dasha Freda, the dam of both Heza Dasha Fire and Ima Fearless Hero.

Dasha Freda was plucked out of the 2003 Heritage Place Yearling Sale for $40,000 and went on to earn $111,741.

According to Kathy, the Meneelys told trainer James McArthur to go look at Dasha Freda, who has top-shelf Bob Gentry breeding. Well, McArthur did more than just look at her, he went ahead and bought her for the Meneelys.

“When I first saw her, I called Don and said ‘We have weanlings bigger than her,’” said Kathy. Her lack of size was probably a reason why she didn’t bring more money.

Winner of the Bayer Legend California Challenge (G3) during her racing career, Dasha Freda is sired by Mr Jess Perry and out of track-record setter and Grade 1 winner Fearless Freda, a daughter of Dash For Cash and major stakes winner Such An Easy Effort. Dasha Freda is a sister to 2005 champion aged stallion Fredricksburg and 2012 champion aged mare Fredaville.

“Dasha Freda was a great mistake,” Kathy said. “The best mistake ever.”

The Meneelys have been breeding Quarter Horses for 30 years and said their success, “validates the program. We need more small breeders,” Kathy says.

“I think he has more in the tank because he wasn’t pushed in his trial,” she adds. “We’re looking forward to doing well and trying to get into the Champion of Champions.”

Heza Dasha Fire has won nine of 10 starts and earned more than $1 million, all at Los Alamitos, but has never raced at 440 yards, the distance of the Champion of Champions.

“I don’t think 440 will bother him at all,” Kathy said.

There should be no argument.


*A note from Wrangler Ace Martha Claussen:

daytona b 
Daytona B. PHOTO: Coady Photography 

Freshened Daytona B in the Challenge Championship: Gregorio Garcia Garza's Daytona B won the $200,000 Adequan Derby Challenge Championship (G3) at Prairie Meadows last October. Bred in Texas by Bielau Oaks, the son of First Down Dash out of the Toast To Dash mare Dashing Pana remained busy after that victory. Trainer Rolando Almanza shipped the sorrel gelding to Hialeah Park in south Florida. He made four starts, winning two races, including the $100,000 Sam Abbey Memorial Invitational.

Next stop for Daytona B was Sam Houston Race Park where he delivered a track-record-setting performance in the $105,840 Bank of America Sam Houston Championship Challenge (G2) on April 18. With confident handling by rider Esgar Ramirez, Daytona B surged to the wire of the 440-yard stakes in :21.276, besting the previous record of :21.322 set by Diamond Tres Seis on August 29, 2008.

Following the victory, Almanza stated that his well-traveled champion deserved some time off and would return fresh at Lone Star Park.

“The horse is doing really well” said Almanza. “We gave him the whole summer off; that was our plan. People have asked me if he was injured, which was not the case. I knew he had run hard and deserved some time off.”

Jockey Esgar Ramirez will ride Daytona B in the $350,000 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1). Almanza, 42, who has been training for 12 years, will also saddle Quency Grant's Undivided Atemption in the John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship (G2).

"He won running into a 15 mph head wind at Ruidoso," he said of the South Carolina-bred. "I think he will be a solid contender in the John Deere."

ajs high 
 AJs High. PHOTO: Coady Photography

Stormy Smith and AJs High: Quarter Horse jockey Stormy Smith is a very mild-mannered dude. He just won the leading rider title at the 2015 Prairie Meadows Quarter Horse meet. When asked how many times he has been the top jockey, he casually replies, “I really don't know; maybe 12 or 13?"

So how does he manage to get along with his polar opposite mount, Michael Teel's AJs High? The very talented but quirky winner of the 2014 John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship (G2) winner, trained by Charlie Hunt, will represent Iowa again this year in the $200,000 Adequan Derby Challenge Championships (G3) at Lone Star Park on November 7.

"He's just a freak of nature," explains Smith. "He is an amazing runner, but you never know how he will act before a race. Two starts ago at Prairie Meadows, he hit his rig and knocked himself goofy. In the post parade for the Remington Park Oklahoma-Bred Derby (RG3), he bucked me off and ran into the vet truck. The outrider caught him, I got back on and he won by 2 1/2 lengths."

Of course, Smith was not the only casualty of the irascible son of Apollitical Jess. On August 28, AJs High knocked over his groom in the saddling paddock and bloodied trainer Charley Smith as the trainer came to the rescue.

"Charlie needed 12 stitches after that," said Smith.

Nevertheless, all systems are go for AJs High as he and Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1) contender Mister Big will van with Hunt to Lone Star Park next week.

Wrangler Racing Aces Headed to Indiana Grand and Lone Star: Denis Blake heads to Indiana Grand Race Course Saturday, October 24 for the final "All Quarter Horse" card of the 2015 live racing season. He will join the popular Rachel McLaughlin for her televised pre-show and meet fans throughout the evening with handicapping information and free $2 wagering vouchers, courtesy of QHRAI.

Get a free tipsheet from Racing Ace Denis Blake

Saturday also marks a return visit to Lone Star Park for Martha Claussen, who will preview the 16 trials for the Texas Classic Futurity (G1) with Lone Star Park handicapper, Rick Lee. Their seminar gets underway at 4:10 p.m. due to the early post time of 5:05 p.m. to accommodate the additional races on the card.

Get a free tipsheet from Racing Ace Martha Claussen

Denis Blake, Martha Claussen, John Hernandez and special guest Jonathan Horowitz will be heading to Lone Star Park on behalf of the Wrangler Racing Aces. Claussen will be onsite Saturday, October 24 to promote the 2015 Bank of America Challenge Championships on November 6-7 and to preview the trials for the Texas Classic Futurity with Lone Star Park handicapper, Rick Lee.

From Thursday, November 5, through Saturday, November 7, all four Aces will be at Lone Star Park, greeting fans and providing valuable information and insights on the Bank of America Challenge Championships.  In addition to appearing during live racing, the Wrangler Aces will appear at the state-of-the art sports book, the Bar & Book from 2-5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday afternoon. 

Visit the Q-Racing Aces page on Facebook or follow them @HorseRacingAces on Twitter to learn more about the upcoming Bank of America Challenge. Excellent videos, produced by RaceView Network, are posted with recaps of the regional winners heading to Texas for the Championships!

AQHA News and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHARacing on Twitter, “like” Q-Racing on Facebook and visit www.aqharacing.com.