Q-Racing Blog: Born in the Wrong Year
Some horses deserved a world champion honor.
By Ty Wyant | January 13, 2016
Soon we will know who is the 2015 world champion. It will be a deserved honor. Whether you agree or disagree with the vote, it is deserved.
However, some years there is another horse that also had a campaign of world championship-caliber. While there can only be one world champion, there can be more than one deserving horse in one year.
Over my four decades covering American Quarter Horse racing, I’ve witnessed several examples of horses that were never a world champion, however could have been named world champion if they were just born in another year. You have your choices; I have my choices. There is no right or wrong.
Here are a few of mine in chronological order.
1971 s.m. Roma Charge-Hal’s Pep by Hal Peck (TB)
Sue Urquart’s She’s Precious was a warrior.
In 1976, she won the Los Alamitos Invitational Championship, the Go Man Go Handicap, Miss Princess Handicap and the Clabbertown G Handicap. The D. Wayne Lukas-trained mare won stakes at 300 yards, 400 yards and 440 yards. In the 1976 Champion of Champions, She’s Precious was eighth as the even-money favorite, the lowest finish of her 37-race career. In that Champion of Champions, the 3-year-old Dash For Cash set the then-Los Alamitos 440-yard track record of :21.17 and won his first of consecutive world championships. She’s Precious was the 1976 champion aged horse.
1975 b.g. Reb’s Policy (TB)-Camptown Girl by Breeze Bar
Ivan Ashment’s homebred Town Policy is an icon.
The gelding is a member of the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and the Ruidoso Downs’ Racehorse Hall of Fame. The Blane Schvaneveldt-trained gelding won the major race in his age group for three-straight years at Los Alamitos. He won the 1977 Kindergarten, the 1978 Los Alamitos Derby and the 1979 Vessels Maturity (then it was limited to 4-year-olds). He was the champion 2-year-old, champion 3-year-old gelding and champion aged gelding.
Town Policy was stolen from Schvaneveldt’s Stanton, California, facility five days after he won the Fresno Futurity and was taken to Mexico (some stories say he was in the front of a moving van). Five months later he was found in Mexico and Schvaneveldt said: “He looked like he was dead.” Then, 10 weeks later, he won the Los Alamitos Derby by 2 1/2 lengths.
1984 br.m. Dash For Cash-Trippy Dip (TB) by Scout Leader
White Oaks Ranch’s Florentine was remarkable.
She, too, is a member of the Ruidoso Downs’ Racehorse Hall of Fame. The Russell Harris-trained mare developed as a 3-year-old in 1987 when she won La Primera Del Ano Derby and Golden State Derby at Bay Meadows, and the Rainbow Derby and World’s Championship Classic at Ruidoso Downs. In the Champion of Champions, Florentine went off at 5-2 odds and finished third behind world champion First Down Dash. Florentine was the champion 3-year-old filly.
The next year, Florentine won the Vessels Maturity, Anne Burnett Invitational Handicap (now the Mildred Vessels) and the QHBC Championship Classic. She was named champion aged horse and champion aged mare while the 2-year-old Merganser was the 1988 world champion.
Florentine went on to become the 1995 broodmare of the year and a dam of distinction.
1989 b.m. Chicks Beduino-Sizzling Lil by Sizzle Te
“Strawberry” Bob Etchandy’s Corona Chick was just faster than any other horse.
Kip Didericksen said she was the fastest horse he ever rode. She is a member the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and the Ruidoso Downs’ Racehorse Hall of Fame.
As a 2-year-old in 1991, Corona Chick won the Ed Burke Memorial Futurity, Kindergarten and the Governor’s Cup Futurity to be honored as the champion 2-year-old and champion 2-year-old filly. In the initial voting for world champion, she had the most votes, but not a majority, so there was a runoff with Special Leader. He won the runoff for the sport’s highest honor. Corona Chick came back in 1992 to be named champion 3-year-old filly.
In retirement she was named 1997’s broodmare of the year and for many years was the all-time leading dam by money earned with more than $3.6 million in progeny earnings. She is the dam of champion Corona Cash, along with sires Corona Cartel, Valiant Hero and Captain Courage.
2002 g.s. First Down Dash-Runaway Wave by Runaway Winner
Ocean Runaway was elegant.
In 2005, Muller Racing Inc.’s Ocean Runaway was the top 3-year-old at Los Alamitos while DM Shicago was the top sophomore at Ruidoso Downs with wins in the Ruidoso, Rainbow and All American derbies.
While Ocean Runaway was second to DM Shicago in the Rainbow Derby, back at Los Alamitos, the Denny Ekins-trained Ocean Runaway won the PCQHRA Breeders’ Derby (G2) and then closed his career with a win in the Champion of Champions. DM Shicago was named the 2005 world champion.
At 2, Ocean Runaway won the Los Alamitos Million and Golden State Million futurities and Restricted Grade 1 Governor’s Cup Futurity at Los Alamitos while being named champion 2-year-old. Be A Bono was the 2004 world champion.
2005 br.m. Feature Mr Jess-Dashing Phoebe by Dash For Cash
La Feliz Montana Ranch's Heartswideopen was a game powerhouse.
Trained by Carl Draper, Heartswideopen was brilliant when she started her career at Sunland Park and then won the Ruidoso Futurity. Draper elected to pass the Rainbow Futurity and the nearly-black filly fought to a head win in the All American Futurity. She was named champion 2-year-old while sophomore Blues Girl Too was the world champion after breaking Dash For Cash’s 440-yard track record at Los Alamitos in the Champion of Champions.
Heartswideopen returned at 3 to win the Ruidoso and Rainbow derbies before being barely beaten by Noconi in the All American Derby. Heartswideopen was honored as champion 3-year-old and champion 3-year-old filly. The three-time Grade 1-winning freshman Stolis Winner was named world champion.
2009 s. g. Tres Seis-Stolis Fortune by Stoli
Owned by Johnny T.L. Jones, Monty and Katsy Cluck along with Doug Benson, Ochoa was the Quarter Horse equivalent of Earl Campbell: He was the perfect combination of speed and brute power.
The Sleepy Gilbreath-trained gelding showed promise when he was a late-running third in the 2011 Ruidoso Futurity. Gilbreath and the owners knew they had an All American Futurity horse. Ochoa passed the Rainbow Futurity and proved they were correct when he dominated the All American Futurity by 1 1/2 lengths. He was named champion 2-year-old while stablemate Cold Cash 123 was world champion.
The following summer at Ruidoso Downs, Ochoa won the Rainbow and the All American derbies on his was to being named champion 3-year-old. Another three-time Grade 1-winning freshman, One Dashing Eagle, was honored as 2012 world champion.
*A note from Wrangler Ace Martha Claussen:
Young and Eager: Hialeah Park has been a good winter destination for Quarter Horse jockey Omar Reyes. The 21-year-old Kansas native is embarking on his fourth year in the saddle and is hoping to defend his leading rider title at the South Florida racetrack.
Reyes won leading rider honors for the 2014-2015 Hialeah Park Quarter Horse season with 45 wins from 206 mounts. As a result of that excellent showing, Reyes earned the first JockeyTalk360 Quarter Horse Jockey of the Month title.
From Hialeah, he rode at the ultra-tough Remington Park 2015 Quarter Horse meet, honing his craft with helpful tips from the recently retired G.R. Carter Jr.
"I've been blessed to have this success so early in my career," said the young rider. "G.R. (Carter) has helped me learn and improve, and I will really miss him."
In the first three weeks of the current Hialeah racing season, Reyes remains the leading rider with 13 wins from 61 starts. He rides four of the five stakes races this Sunday, and other than Hearts Ona Hero (5-1) in the $30,000 Hialeah El Nino Stakes, his other mounts are 15-1 and higher on the morning line.
"My Derby horse (Pryme Time) is a long shot, but I really like him," said Reyes. "The odds don't mean much to me; just being in the race gives you a chance. Sometimes you never know."
One thing the young jockey knows is that getting on horses in morning works does pay off.
"I like working hard and am dedicated to being at the track early each morning," he stated.
Reyes does not regret any of the sacrifices he is making at this stage of his career.
"Right now, my camper is my home, but that's okay," said Reyes. "I know if I work hard, that someday I could be as good as G.R. or Cody (Jensen)."
Wrangler Racing Ace John Hernandez to Hialeah: Hialeah Park's annual Quarter Horse meet has grown by leaps and bounds since its first season six years ago. Wrangler Racing Ace John Hernandez has made several visits to the historic racetrack, known for its signature pink flamingos.
“I’m thrilled to see how both the local and national interest in Hialeah Park has grown since that first live season in 2009-10," said Hernandez. "I remember visiting the park for the first time during the second season and thinking there was a lot of potential. Between what Hialeah Park has done with its racing and stakes program, the aggressive work by Peter Aiello to develop the simulcast wagering market, and the diligent effort to promote the races in South Florida, there’s no doubt that the operation has improved year after year.”
Hialeah Park has already broken its all-sources handle record twice this season. Hernandez, who will offer his insights on the five stakes races on the Sunday, January 17 card, lauds the support of the local fans.
“One thing that’s always been characteristic of Hialeah Park is the ebullience of the on-track fans," adds Hernandez. "Whether it’s a routine mid-season day or a big stakes day, there’s always a vibrant buzz in the stands and on the apron. The fans cheer wildly every race. And they’re loyal to the jockeys and trainers who have made Hialeah Park their regular winter destination since the live races returned.”
Of course, the sunshine and balmy 80 degree weather certainly does not hurt!
Wrangler Racing Aces in January: Visit the Q-Racing Aces page on Facebook or follow them @HorseRacingAces on Twitter for timely updates on Quarter Horse racing across North America. The Wrangler Racing Aces are following the horses, jockeys, trainers and milestones at tracks around the country including Los Alamitos, Sunland Park, Hialeah Park and Louisiana Downs.