KY Derby Quarter Horse Connections

A familiar face is on the Kentucky Derby trail.

Q-Racing Journal

Sonny Henderson. PHOTO: Coady Photography

UPDATE: On Saturday, May 7, Suddenbreaking news is set to represent Sonny Henderson in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Since this story was written, the horse finished fifth in the Rebel Stakes and second in the Arkansas Derby.

March 15, 2016 - A gelding by Mineshaft, Suddenbreakingnews turned in a powerful performance at Oaklawn Park on February 15, when he rallied from dead last to hand a 2 3/4-length drubbing to his 13 rivals in the Grade III Southwest Stakes at the track in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The win was the first in a graded Thoroughbred stakes for Henderson, and marked Suddenbreakingnews as a serious contender for the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs.

Suddenbreakingnews (TB) wins the Southwest
PHOTO: Coady Photography

“He’s got a tremendous turn of foot,” said Henderson, as quoted by Ben Massam in the Thoroughbred Daily News. “It’s just unbelievable how fast this horse can kick it. I couldn’t believe it. I was watching him when he came around, and he got about halfway in front of the stands and my wife (Helen) was with me and I said, ‘Honey, we’re getting ready to win this race. Our horse is running over these horses on the outside!

Henderson has raced horses for five decades. Beginning in 1967, Henderson has bred 272 named American Quarter Horses, with 193 starting races and 111 coming back as winners while bringing home more than $1.87 million in earnings. Ten of those were stakes winners, with the Beat A Native mare Bartendress ($452,309) as the champion 3-year-old filly in 1983. Henderson also raced Jet Commander, the 1975 champion sophomore gelding.

Suddenbreakingnews is not the first foray into route horses by Henderson, who also bred the Thoroughbred mare Trippy Dip. A 1976 daughter of Scout Leader, Trippy Dip earned $78,169 while winning 10 of 29 races at distances from four to six furlongs before becoming an AQHA Dam of Distinction that produced champions Calyx, Florentine and Ive Been Blessed, four other stakes winners and the earners of more than $1.745 million from 15 starters.

Henderson recently overcame serious health issues, which allowed him to return to horse racing.

“I got well – I had heart trouble and leukemia, and everything in the world happened to me,” he said. “But the Lord blessed me and I’ve got all this in remission now. I wanted to go back to the horses, so I went back to them. I decided I’d play the middle end (of the sales), where the good horses usually are.”

Henderson paid $72,000 for Suddenbreakingnews at the Keeneland September sale.

“He’s just a big Thoroughbred horse that shows he can go two turns,” Henderson said. “I’m used to Quarter Horses and speed horses in this country . . . but I really like him.”

Now the 3-year-old Thoroughbred gelding is making news. Trained by Donnie Von Hemel, Suddenbreakingnews is to run in Saturday’s Grade II Rebel Stakes and also is pointed to the Grade I Arkansas Derby on April 16, both at Oaklawn Park.

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