Q-Racing: Final Yards

Freshman championships are coming down to the wire.

Quarter Racing Journal

Freshman championships are coming down to the wire.

The annual race for championship honors is now three-quarters of the way to the finish line. Which horses will be rewarding their connections with a spot in American Quarter Horse racing history?

Let’s take a look. In this political season of endless polling, we’ll use the AQHA Racing– Horseplayernow.com National Poll as a base.

Full disclosure: I vote in the weekly poll and was on the champions selection committee for about 15 years.

There are important differences between the two voting groups, in my opinion.

The 11 weekly poll voters are all people with close ties to racing and racetracks. They are not owners, breeders, trainers or anybody who has an investment in a horse. I can think of one voter whose immediate family is involved in breeding and owning racehorses, but every day the voters are involved in racing. Some of the voters are at the 40-year mark of their daily involvement.

The AQHA champions selection committee is comprised of 21 members. There are 11 members of the racing committee who are elected by the racing committee. The other 10 voters are selected by the racing council and are AQHA members at large. Obviously, this includes people who have a financial interest in horses. If a horse they have or had an interest in is under consideration, they should and do abstain. There were 10 abstain votes in the voting for 2015 champions.

They are voters with an avid commitment to Quarter Horse racing, as evidenced by their participation in Quarter Horse racing.

As a poll voter, I judge the horse’s ranking every Monday and it’s a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately perspective in combination with the horse’s class level. As a selection committee voter, I gave overwhelming consideration to each horse’s campaign for the entire calendar year and the class level. Multiple Grade 1 wins were a major plus.

There are some differences, however the top-10 horses in the poll are a good place to start when looking at championship contenders. Let’s look at the 2-year-olds.
 
1-Imperial Eagle, gelding (One Famous Eagle-Jenuine Joy by Genuine Strawfly)

Charles Robinson’s Imperial Eagle won the $3-million All American Futurity (G1). That will make a horse No. 1. Trainer Tony Sedillo brought him back in 19 days and he had a horrid start in his Hobbs America Futurity (G2) trial. He broke slowly and immediately veered inward from the seventh post position. He was never in contention and the voters threw out the race. He’s still No. 1. He was also awarded second-place money in the $207,007 West Texas Futurity (G2) after multiple disqualifications of his competitors.
 
2-A Revenant, colt (Mr Jess Perry-Thewayouwantmetoo by Mr Eye Opener)

A Revenant – owned by Johnny Cope, R.D. Hubbard, Ray Willis’ Rafter W Stables and Henry “Butch” Southway – impressed while making four starts at Ruidoso Downs. He won three of those starts with a troubled second in the $1-million Ruidoso Futurity (G1). He still was beaten by only a head. The Mike Joiner-trained colt then won his Rainbow Futurity trial and the $1-million Rainbow Futurity (G1), his latest race.
 
3-Chazaq, gelding (Corona Cartel-All About Ease by First Down Dash)

Dutch Masters III’s Chazaq has not started since winning the $1,070,000 Ed Burke Memorial Futurity (G1) back in June at Los Alamitos and still has maintained a top-three position in the poll. The Jaime Gomez-trained gelding was also second in the $428,000 Robert Adair Kindergarten Futurity (G3). Chazaq was bred by Bobby Cox, as was fourth-place horse Duponte.
 
4-Duponte, colt (American Runaway-Havanah Goodtime by Ivory James)

Owned by Homero Parades and Kristen Ashley Parades with breeder Cox, Duponte started early with a win in the $267,700 Harrah’s Entertainment Futurity (G3) back in March. He continued to impress with a win in the $1,083,420 Heritage Place Futurity (G1) at Remington Park. After a non-qualifying fourth behind Imperial Eagle in their All American Futurity trial, Duponte set the second-fastest qualifying time to the $427,350 Dash For Cash Futurity (G1) at Lone Star Park. The futurity finals are October 8 and may be a stepping stone to a higher ranking.
 
5-Apolltical Chad, gelding (Apollitical Jess-First Prize Tracy by Shazoom)

Owned by the nine members comprising Nueve Racing, Apolltical Chad made one start at Remington Park and then had a smart four-race Ruidoso Downs’ campaign for trainer Wes Giles. He stepped up and beat A Revenant by a close head in the Ruidoso Futurity and was fourth, beaten by one length in the All American Futurity. His connections passed on the Rainbow Futurity trials to point the gelding at the All American Futurity trials.
 
6-Coronas First Diva, filly (Corona Cartel-Spit Curl Diva by Spit Curl Jess)

Sara Morgan’s Coronas First Diva is the highest-ranking filly in the poll and was also the first filly to cross the finish line in the All American Futurity with her third-place effort. That is her latest start. The Charles “Duke” Shults-trained filly has displayed class throughout her six-race career with a win in the $411,600 Oklahoma Futurity (G3) and a fifth-place run in the Heritage Place Futurity, each at Remington Park.
 
7-The Marfa Lights, colt (One Famous Eagle-Your First Moon by First Down Dash)

Michael and Beth Harper’s The Marfa Lights has made four starts, each at Ruidoso Downs, and improved with each out. The Jim Helzer-trained half-brother to champion Moonist battled with Imperial Eagle in the All American Futurity, however Imperial Eagle got the win by a neck while The Marfa Lights finished a strong second.
 
8-Teller Baja, filly (Teller Cartel-Baja Jazz by Tres Seis)

Juan Medina’s homebred Teller Baja is one of those horses that just keeps battling. She has four wins, a second and a third from six starts against high-caliber competition. The filly was 3-for-3 for trainer Rick Robinson at Remington Park, capped by a one-half length win in the $888,000 Remington Park Oklahoma-bred Futurity (RG2). She then joined the Judd Kearl barn at Ruidoso Downs and capped her three starts at the mountain track with a troubled third-place run in the $500,000 All American Juvenile.
 
9-One Proud Eagle, gelding (One Famous Eagle-Guy Chasing by Fishers Dash)

Ron Hartley’s homebred One Proud Eagle started his career with a third-place finish and then three consecutive wins, including the Robert Adair Kindergarten Futurity after setting the fastest-qualifying time. He suffered defeats in his two starts since those three wins. He was second in the $45,000 John Deere Los Alamitos Juvenile Challenge and fourth in his PCQHRA Breeders Futurity (G2) trial as the 1-2 favorite.
 
10-Racy High Roller, gelding (One Famous Eagle-First Down Racy by First Down Dash)

Abigail Kawananakoa’s Racy High Roller reached the top 10 with his mild-upset win in the $430,000 PCQHRA Breeders Futurity (G2), his most recent start. It was his first win since winning his maiden at first asking back in May for trainer Chris O’Dell. He has made six starts and showed his Grade 1 class with a fourth-place finish in the Ed Burke Million Futurity.
 
There are important Grade 1 futurities yet to be contested this year. They will be interesting in this race for championship hardware.

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