Heza Dasha Fire is PCQHRA Horse of the Year
The reigning AQHA world champion was honored Thursday night at Los Alamitos Racecourse.
January 29, 2016
The awards and accolades continue to roll in for Champion of Champions (G1) winner Heza Dasha Fire.
After being honored as World Champion, 3-year-old champion and 3-year-old champion gelding by the American Quarter Horse Association on January 20, Heza Dasha Fire was named the Horse of the Year and 3-Year-Old Gelding of the Year by the Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Racing Association. Headed by Heza Dasha Fire, the PCQHRA honored California's outstanding race horses and horsemen at its annual awards banquet at Los Alamitos Racecourse on Thursday.
Owned by Don, Kathy and Shawn Meneely of S-Quarter K Racing, Heza Dasha Fire enjoyed a perfect season in 2015, winning the Grade 1 $600,000 Champion of Champions with ease against a great field to go along with convincing victories in the Grade 1, $900,000 Los Alamitos Super Derby and Grade 2, $200,000 Golden State Derby. Bred by S-Quarter K Racing, the son of Walk Thru Fire out of Dasha Freda was undefeated in five outings in 2015. The Jose Flores-trained runner has already started defending his championship titles, as he raced in Sunday’s trials to the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Championship.
Second to Moonist in their trial, Heza Dasha Fire and Moonist will both face-off again in the Los Alamitos Winter Championship final on February 14.
“It’s a pleasure to run at Los Alamitos and be a part of this racing family,” said Don Meneely. “My wife is the brain of this family in managing these horses. I just play golf and drink beer. We really wanted this for Jose Flores. He and his team work so hard and do such a great job with the horses. We are so happy for him.”
“I think we’ll have a lot of fun seeing Heza Dasha Fire run against Moonist,” Kathy Meneely added.
The AQHA World Champion and PCQHRA Horse of the Year was not the only star in the S-Quarter K barn. Heza Dasha Fire’s half-brother, Ima Fearless Hero, gave S-Quarter K Racing a terrific one-two punch last year. Ima Fearless Hero won California’s richest race of 2015, the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity, while winning the PCQHRA Breeders Futurity as well.
Also conditioned by Jose Flores, Ima Fearless Hero, sired by Valiant Hero and also out of Dasha Freda, added the title of PCQHRA 2-year-old gelding of the year to his crown as AQHA champion 2-year-old gelding. Cruz Mendez, who piloted both Heza Dasha Fire and Ima Fearless Hero in 2015, was named the PCQHRA Jockey of the Year.
“James McArthur picked out Dasha Freda for us when she was a yearling,” Don Meneely said. “When I found that he had bought her for us I was like ‘sheesh.’ When Kathy saw her she said, ‘Don, we have weanlings that are bigger than her.’ She turned out to be the greatest thing that ever happened to us in racing. She did pretty well on the racetrack and she’s given us these two horses. I just have to thank James McArthur.”
EG High Desert Farms’ Walk Thru Crystal, the AQHA champion 2-year-old filly, was also named PCQHRA 2-year-old filly of the year thanks to her victories in both the Ed Burke Million Futurity and Kindergarten Futurity. Trained by Yanet Rodriguez, Walk Thru Crystal also qualified to the Golden State Million Futurity and Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity.
Other AQHA and PCQHRA award winners were Ron Hartley’s Moonist and Ed Allred’s Quirky. Trained by John Cooper, Moonist was named PCQHRA aged gelding of the year, a trophy that adds to his titles as AQHA overall champion aged horse and champion aged gelding. A five-time stakes winner in 2015, Moonist will go after his first stakes win of 2016 when in the aforementioned Los Alamitos Winter Championship.
“The second time Moonist ran, Jaime Gomez wanted to buy him from us,” Hartley said. “Jaime knew that Moonist was a running son of a gun. The Meneelys are such great people with a great horse in Heza Dasha Fire. We’re looking forward to Moonist facing Heza Dasha Fire.”
Ed Allred’s Quirky, the winner of the Grade 1 Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap and Grade 2 Charger Bar Handicap, was named the PCQHRA aged mare of the year. She was also named the AQHA champion aged mare. Quirky has already started 2016 in victorious form after winning this year’s Charger Bar, which is back to a Grade 1 race.
“I’ve never had a horse like Quirky before,” trainer James Glenn, Jr. said. “I have to thank Dr. Allred for giving me the opportunity to work with this great mare. Groom Hector Aldana deserves all the credit. He lives, eats, and sleeps Quirky 24 hours a day.”
Allred, who in addition to Quirky also raced and bred stakes winners Well And Good, Take A Look, Blabber, Nymph, and Knocking On The Door, was named the PCQHRA Owner and Breeder of the Year. Paul Jones, who claimed his 14th AQHA champion trainer award, won the PCQHRA Trainer of the Year Award.
The prestigious Frank Vessels Sr. Memorial Award was presented by Bonnie Vessels to Wade Siegel and Tom Seibly for their contributions to racing, most recently their great work with the Quarter Horse Benevolent Charity Foundation.
Siegel, a long time Quarter Horse owner and breeder, is the president of the QHBCF. The QHBCF administers various important services for the backside community at Los Alamitos Race Course, including an on-site dental office. Over the years, Siegel has raced multiple stakes finalists BF Farm Boy and Dorothy Nell and has also enjoyed 2014 PCQHRA Breeders Futurity winner BF Farm Boss.
Siegel serves on the AQHA Racing Council and is a former president of the Los Alamitos division of the Race Track Chaplaincy of America. He is a past member of the PCQHRA Board of Directors and also served on both the PCQHRA Publicity/Marketing Services Committee and on the Awards Committee.
Siegel is the president of the Agron, Inc, a licensee and distributor of adidas accessories. He was also the director of marketing for adidas before heading Agron.
“This is a wonderful honor for the entire team of the Quarter Horse Benevolent Foundation,” Siegel said. “It takes a group of very good people to bring many great services to those that work so hard to take care of our horses. When I first wanted to join this board my wife wondered why I wanted to volunteer for something else. I asked her ‘Is it important to provide (the backside employees) as complete and as good a care as the horses they care for?’ Right away, she said ‘Go’.”
Seibly first attended Los Alamitos Race Course in 1959 along with his good friend Ed Allred back when the two were law students at USC. The two college buddies came to see a horse owned by the Allred Brothers race in the day’s feature event at Los Alamitos.
Now a retired judge from San Joaquin County, Seibly was a partner on the first horse Allred ever bought, calling themselves Oaks Stables. In more recent years, Seibly and Allred have campaigned multiple major stakes winner Ten O’Clock Scholar and Golden State Million Futurity winner The Partys On Fire. Seibly is vice-president of the Los Alamitos Quarter Horse Racing Association.
“Wade Siegel has provided the leadership, focus, and tenacity for this group,” Seibly added. “From day one the focus has been the medical and dental. We are close to where we want to be. We now are focusing with the social aspect and looking to provide various activities.”
The following were also honored by the PCQHRA: trainer special recognition award to Jose Flores for an outstanding season that included winning the Champion of Champions, Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity, Los Alamitos Super Derby, PCQHRA Breeders Futurity, Golden State Derby and more.
“I’ve been fortunate to train some fast and great horses in my career, but Heza Dasha Fire takes the cake,” Flores said.
Owner special recognition award to Parsons Racing Limited Partnership for wins in the Governor’s Cup Futurity, Los Alamitos Maiden Stakes, and Los Alamitos Juvenile Invitational, and more, while the special recognition breeder award went to Steve Burns of Menifee, California. Burns’ homebreds were led by Golden State Million Futurity winner Little Talks and All American Futurity finalist and Los Alamitos winner Crooked Path. Burns finished as the nation’s second leading breeder in money earned and third leading breeder in races won.
“We finished only a million dollars behind Dr. Allred in money earned so that’s pretty good,” Burns said with a smile. “I remember when we bought Babe On The Fly from Rod MacPherson he said, ‘Kid, I’m going to put you on the map.’ I have to thank Rod for selling us that mare.”
Jockey special achievement award to Carlos Huerta, winner of stakes races aboard Quirky, Forget It, Bac In Front and more; Val Tonks Award for up and coming rider Jesus Ayala; and Sam Thompson Award for leadership within the racing community to Melodie Knuchell, the director of nominations and simulcasting at Los Alamitos Race Course, vice-president of the Los Alamitos RTCA, and member of the AQHA Graded Stakes Committee, Racing Committee, and Champions Selection Committee. Knuchell also volunteers with San Juan Capistrano Large Animal Response Team and a member of the Las Vaqueras, a ladies riding group.
Other award winners included; Docs Best Card, as the PCQHRA 2-year-old colt of the year after a tremendous season in which he qualified to five major futurities and finished second in the Ed Burke Million, Golden State Million, and Los Alamitos Two Million futurities; Two-time derby winner Bac In Front was the PCQHRA 2-year-old filly of the year; Walk The Catwalk was named the PCQHRA 3-year-old colt of the year; and Jake Gold BR was named PCQHRA aged stallion of the year. Iron Horse of the Year was Front And Center, Most Improved horse was French Fury, and the Intermountain Horse of the Year was Zooming For Spuds.
“Docs Best Card is one of the best horses I’ve ever trained,” Jaime Gomez said.
The James V.A. Carter Award for top broodmare residing in California went to Terrific Energy, the dam of stakes winner Thermonucler Energy, stakes placed Dynasty Energy, Los Alamitos Maiden Stakes winner Energy Cartel and derby finalist Valiant Energy. The Three Bars Award for top stallion in California went to Walk Thru Fire, the sire of Heza Dasha Fire and Walk Thru Crystal.
Owner Pamela Barana, trainer Charles Treece and jockey Omar Santos Herrera were recognized for winning Thoroughbred titles at Los Alamitos Race Course. Northern California award winners and leading money-earning Cal-breds in various racing divisions were also recognized.
AQHA News and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For news and information, follow @AQHA Racing on Twitter, "like" Q-Racing on Facebook, and visit www.aqharacing.com.