VanBebber Blog

Preparing for the fall championship season.

Chief Racing Officer

We're busy preparing for the fall championship season.

As I write this, the weather is turning colder and my broodmares are starting to sprout their winter coats. The yearling sale season has closed, and I hope all you buyers have a future stakes winner standing in your barn.

The whole AQHA racing department is busy getting ready for the Bank of America Challenge Championships.  We are thrilled to be returning to Southern California and showcasing strong fields of horses from around North America at Los Alamitos Race Course on October 29.

The Bank of America Challenge Championships is the year-end culmination of the Challenge program, and I’m excited about the horses that have been nominated for the championship and undercard races. Early indications show we will have strong entries in these races from all parts of the country, including many superstar horses.

Contrary to some concerns, the implementation of hair testing has instilled confidence in horsemen, knowing they can compete on an even playing field, and in preparing for the Challenge Championships, it seems as though the pre-transport testing opportunity that AQHA implemented proved a valuable service to horsemen, affording them the opportunity to approach the required hair testing at Los Alamitos with confidence if they had been running in jurisdictions that have permissible levels of clenbuterol. 

The Challenge program is a lucrative program, offering over $80 million in purses since its inception. Already this year, weanling nominations are up over last year. However, if you bought a yearling at a recent sale that is not yet Challenge enrolled, don’t forget that for a mere $600 your new purchase could be eligible to participate in this program for the rest of his career!

After the completion of our big night, I look forward to being on hand for the Golden State Million Futurity (G1) on Sunday October 30, and then on November 3 traveling over to Santa Anita to where I’ve been invited to speak at the Racetrack Chaplaincy of America’s White Horse Award luncheon. My next stop is to Oklahoma City for the Heritage Place Fall Sale on November 4-5. Please note that while AQHA Member Services won’t be at the fall sale, they will be in attendance at the Winter Mixed Sale on January 19-21 (The AQHA Racing Champions Announcements are the prior night, January 18).

The Quarter Racing Journal’s annual stallion issue will be out in December. Make sure you have purchased your ads (call Kelly Hess at 806-376-4811 or Ferron Lucero at 682-251-1454), and don’t miss the industry and stallion statistics filling this issue.

Looking farther down the road, I will be attending the Race Track Industry Program Symposium in Tucson, Arizona, in early December. While there, we are organizing a meeting among Commissioners from jurisdictions with Quarter Horse racing in hopes to promote positive change specifically on the topics of breed-specific medication threshold levels, out-of-competition testing, vet list reciprocity and uniform penalties for medication violations.

I think these are very important issues that we at AQHA are working on for the best interest of our industry. As always, don’t hesitate to look me up at any of these events or contact me via phone or email. I value the input of all of you as we work to making our industry better.

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