Q-Racing Blog: The Challenge

It represents many aspects for our industry.

It represents many aspects for our industry.

The Bank of America Challenge Championships mean many things and we’ve seen them evolve with the times since the first running back in 1993.

They have also remained dedicated to their roots. They always provide an array of horses from throughout Quarter Horse racing, they always provide memorable races and they always provide a surprise or surprises throughout the evening.

This year’s starters in the five graded stakes on the stakes-filled card come from as far as northern Alberta, Canada, Minnesota, Washington, Prairie Meadows and all tracks in between. This year the Bank of America Challenge Championships are contested at Los Alamitos and there is always expected to be a home track advantage, however more than a few players have lost their cash just by playing the homies.

The horses come from throughout the Quarter Horse racing business and that means their connections are also in attendance. This gives them the opportunity to exchange ideas and express opinions on the many challenges facing racing. Hopefully, they learn and take their new-found knowledge back home and help racing in their jurisdiction.

When it comes to memorable racing, the first race that popped into my mind is probably a race that just a few of us would instantly remember. It was back in 2001 at Los Alamitos when Sign Of Lanty won his second of two victories in the Distance Challenge Championship.

Jackie and Rod MacPherson’s Sign Of Lanty did not get the best trip. That did not deter him because he had the class that comes with being a three-time distance champion. The John Cooper-trained gelding raced three-wide on the turn and had about a length to make up entering the stretch. He demanded the win under Eddie Garcia with a sustained drive and flew under the wire with an expanding daylight victory. It was one of his 17 stakes wins.

The MacPhersons, Cooper, Garcia and Sign Of Lanty is the old-school racing that tops my list.

This year, trainer Matt Fales has moved a portion of his barn to Los Alamitos after being based at Turf Paradise and then Ruidoso Downs during the summer. He will still maintain his Turf Paradise stable.

“Once I decided to move to Los Alamitos, I started looking for horses eligible to the Challenge,” said Fales. “Los Al has been great. I can make good money and make a living with non-stakes horses. With the Turf Paradise barn and the Los Alamitos barn, I have so many options.”

Fales is represented by Jess A Cowboy in the $350,000 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1), BF Fooserageous in the $202,000 Adequan Derby Challenge Championship (G3) and Mickey Ward in the $125,000 Andreini Distance Challenge Championship (G1).

Larry Stark’s homebred Jess A Cowboy is one of those horse that goes and gets a check. The Dejon-sired gelding has finished first or second in 11 of 16 career starts. He comes off a second-place run in the $74,070 Bank of America Los Alamitos Challenge (G3) and was second in the in the $56,000 Bank of America Turf Paradise Challenge.

“He’s doing great and we feel good about his chances,” said Fales. “He should have the lead at 350 yards and we’ll see if he can answer the bell.”

Birrell Farms’ homebred BF Fooserageous joined the Fales barn at Los Alamitos after racing for trainer Wes Giles. The Foose daughter is also the definition of consistency with seven wins and four seconds from 11 starts. She won the $39,000 Adequan Ruidoso Downs Derby Challenge to get her ticket to Los Alamtitos.

“She’s as solid as they get,” said Fales. “She is talented and fast. We’re looking to get some candy.”

Owned and bred by Matt’s parents Carolyn and Ralph Fales, Mickey Ward won the $19,000 Turf Paradise Distance Challenge back in May and the was a non-threatening sixth in a Los Alamitos $15,000 allowance race at 870 yards in July, his latest start.

“You can throw out his last race and know he is going to be a longshot,” said Fales. “We hope he can light the board. Being a homebred, it’s good for business just to be here.

That’s a definitive point. The Bank of America Racing Challenge can be good for business by just by showing up.

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