Arizona Honors

Loretta Brasher and Cats Policy enter Arizona Hall of Fame

Loretta Brasher. PHOTO: Andrea Caudill/Quarter Racing Journal

It’s only March, but 2017 already is a year of surprises for Loretta Brasher. In January, during the AQHA Racing Champions Ceremony at Heritage Place Sale Company in Oklahoma City, the executive director of the Arizona Quarter Racing Association was honored by the AQHA Racing Committee with the Mildred N. Vessels Special Achievement Award. On Saturday evening, during AQRA’s annual awards banquet at Rillito Race Park in Tucson, she was inducted into the Arizona association’s Hall of Fame.

That was the same time that AQRA announced its champion horses and horsemen for the year and also conducted a silent auction to raise funds for its scholarship program.

“What a surprise!” Loretta exclaimed. “It was pretty hot and I was still in my work clothes. I’d worked all day long with the auction and all the other things going on, I was all sweaty and dirty, and then I hear Jim Kelly call my name. The first thing I thought was, ohno, what now?! And turns out they’re giving me an award! It was crazy – unbelievably crazy. Crazy wonderful!”

Joining Loretta in the AQRA Hall of Fame is Cats Policy, one of the top Arizona-breds of his day. A bay gelding by Reb’s Policy (TB) and foaled in 1979 out of the stakes-winning House Cat (TB) mare Catspaw, Cats Policy was bred by Dr. F.I. Skinner and Bill Byrne of Globe and raced in Byrne’s name. A dominant force on what then was a thriving fair circuit in the Grand Canyon State, Cats Policy won 22 of 49 races over seven seasons at the track, with 14 seconds and five thirds. As a 3-year-old in 1982, the gelding ran second in the Gila County Derby, two years later set a track record when he scored by 4 1/2 lengths in allowance company at Turf Paradise, and the year after that traveled out of state to finish third to the talented Thoroughbred Special Hank in the Governor’s Speed Handicap at Albuquerque. Cats Policy earned $38,330 at a time when purses were much lower than today.

“Cats Policy – you talk about a hard-knockin’ ol’ horse,” said Loretta. “He only had five off-the-board finishes his whole career – that’s awesome! That was back when I first got involved in racing, and it seemed like me and my husband (trainer Wayne Brasher) always had a horse in against him. And we were always running second to him. Cats Policy was a great ol’ horse, the kind of horse we want in our Hall of Fame. I am honored to go in there with him.”

So now, with her awards from AQRA and AQHA, Loretta has to make more room on her shelf. The AQRA awards were designed and made by Loretta’s granddaughter, Amy Freestone of G & A Steele at Thatcher, Arizona.

“The mantle in my den is a monument to my husband and Pies Royal Request,” said Loretta, of her husband who died in 2015 and the Grade 1-winning world record-setting gelding that he trained. “On one side is Wayne and on the other is ‘Pie’. I told my granddaughter, well, I guess ol’ Granny will go right in the middle.”

The AQRA horse of the year is Arizona Icon (Texas Icon-Jess Perfect Girl by Feature Mr Jess). Trained by Matt Fales and ridden by Vince Guerra, the bay gelding won three of six races, including the AQRA Turf Paradise Futurity and Margie Bryan ASOA Futurity (R). Arizona Icon also ran second in one race and third in another, for seasonal earnings of $30,245. Bred and owned by Stephen M. Pierce’s Las Vegas Ranch of Prescott, Arizona, Arizona Icon also is the Arizona-bred 2-year-old gelding for 2016.

The other AQRA champion horses for 2016 are as follows:

Cowboys Dynasty (FDD Dynasty-Mexican Radio by On A High), owned by Alvaro Moneteverde of Nogales, Arizona-bred 2-year-old colt;
Frozen Icon (Texas Icon-Icebreaker by Bono Jazz), owned by Martha Wells of Orange, California, Arizona-bred 2-year-old filly;
Magnificent Jess (One Sweet Jess-Last To Check Him by Check Him Out), owned by Ugo De La Torre of Anaheim, California, 2-year-old open filly;
Heza A Royal Jess (Mr Jess Perry-Im Royal Satin by Royal Quick Dash), owned by H & E Ranch of Scottsdale, Arizona-bred 3-year-old gelding;
Fighter Gone Wild (Fighter On Fire-Wanna Know Now by Mr Sailing Easy), owned by Tom Lichlyter of Fruita, Colorado, open 3-year-old gelding;
May Be Fantastic SA (Fantastic Corona Jr-Darlin Treis by Tres Seis), owned by Orlando Guerrero of Phoenix;
Jess Call Me Fancy (Jess Give It Em-Monique Quick Dash by Royal Quick Dash), owned by Raymond S. Felix of Tucson, Arizona-bred 3-year-old filly; Jess A Cowboy (Dejon-Secret Return by Canth), owned by Larry Stark of Prescott, Arizona-bred aged gelding;
Eyesa Famous Eagle (One Famous Eagle-Eyesa Glass by Eyesa Special), owned by Yuriana Ramirez of Laveen, open aged gelding;
Heat Warning (A Regal Choice-Its A Dry Heat (TB) by Dixieland Heat), owned by Ralph and Carolyn Fales of Coolidge, Arizona-bed aged stallion;
Sarah Sota (Ivory James-Kpax by First Down Dash), owned by YN Horse Stables of Tucson, open aged mare;
Magical Righter (Righter-BF Fantastic Dream by Mr Eye Opener), owned by Amanda Casper of Marana, Arizona-bred aged mare;
Mickey Ward (FDD Dynasty-A Mere Formality by Leaving Memories), owned by Ralph and Carolyn Fales, Arizona-bred distance horse;
Old Troubadour (Snowbound (TB)-Sum Chicks Fly by Chicks Beduino), owned by Jesus M. Olivas of Buckeye, open distance horse;
Jess Perfect Girl (Feature Mr Jess-Look Both Ways by Dash Thru Traffic), owned by Las Vegas Ranch, broodmare of the year;
Texas Icon (Corona Cartel-Jennifer Kate by Vital Sign), owned by Ralph and Carolyn Fales, champion sire.

Ralph and Carolyn Fales are the champion owners and breeders for 2016, while their son Matt is the champion trainer. Martin Bourdieu is the champion jockey.

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