Chariot World Champions

Gibson & Wright crowned as chariot world champions.

Quarter Racing Journal

World Champions Gibson & Wright include horses LS Little Sam and One Famous Secret. PHOTO: Richard Chamberlain

There’s a new world champion in chariot racing.

Bob Pence drove the team of Gibson & Wright to win the first division title on Sunday afternoon (March 26) at the World Championship Cutter & Chariot Racing Association championships in Ogden, Utah.

“OhmyGod, ohmyGod, ohmyGod!” exclaimed a breathless Shana Gibson. “It’s been a long time coming – so many, many years! I’m so excited!”

It was an exciting race all around. And it was a rematch of last year’s world championship. Covering the quarter-mile in :21.86 while clocking the fastest time of the day, the Gibson & Wright team defeated the teams of runner-up Jenson, Ropelato & Padgett and third-place finisher Sierra Racing.

Kelly and Kyle Cook’s Sierra Racing was the defending world champion. Sierra won the world in 2016, winning the championship title in the season’s final race that brought together the same three teams that faced off this year. Sierra Racing won last year’s trophy dash, with Jenson, Ropelato & Padgett second and Gibson & Wright third.

Pence was driving a team of stakes-winning 7-year-old geldings: LS Little Sam, a sorrel by Cashin Man out of the stakes-winning Special Effort mare A Special Wonder, and One Famous Secret, a bay by One Famous Eagle out of the winning Special Leader mare Secretively. An earner of $30,760, LS Little Sam is owned by Steve Wright, who with Shana Gibson’s husband, Gregg, shares ownership of the $45,582-earning One Famous Secret. Racing in the Wasatch Slopes chariot club, both Wright and the Gibsons live in Wellsville, Utah.

“My horses felt really good in the warmup ring,” said Pence, 52. “Three days of running is a lot of running, but yesterday, when we cooled them out after Saturday’s race, I knew they were going to be good today. They recovered real quick, and that’s due to the training and care that they get. So I wasn’t worried about sending them out three days in a row.

“They were really good going to the gate – calm, but on the muscle, alert and checking the place out,” Pence continued. “They walked in the gate and stood perfect. We weren’t in there long at all and they kicked it. The Jenson/Ropelato team left right with it and I could see the Sierra horses right about where my chariot was. About halfway down, Bruce (Jenson) – who drives the Jenson/Ropelato team – had me, oh, about a neck or so. I kept inching up and inching up, and coming into the grandstand we got up about dead-even. And then we took off on the end. It was a good horse race – good horses, good horsemen. We’re lucky to get it done.”

Finishing second was Bruce Jenson driving the 10-year-geldings Kingly Walk, a sorrel by Walk Thru Fire out of Queen Of Secrets by Raise A Secret, and To B Atticus, a gray by Fredricksburg out of Mega Dashability by Dash Over Cari.

Sierra Racing’s team was Maniac Zac, an 8-year-old sorrel gelding by Mighty Invictus out of the Strawfly Special mare Cindy Strawford, and Spur N Dirty, a 7-year-old gelding by Feature Mr Jess out of the Dash To Chivato mare Chivatos Secret. Kelly and Kyle Cook are certified equine laser therapists in West Haven, Utah.

“It was a great race,” Kelly said. “All these horses and all three teams ran so hard, everybody gives so much. You have to give so much credit to everyone involved, because all their teams include their families, their gate help and everybody else – and their hearts and souls. We give our hearts and soul, and they do, too. They’re our friends and we commend them, we think they do a wonderful job and we can say that because we compete against them all year long and it’s really a great competition. We’re so glad that they’re here because, yeah, I’d like to win, just like anybody else likes to win, but if we have to get beat, I couldn’t be happier than if it’s to those two first- and second-place teams. We all tried – everybody did, and I congratulate them for everything they’ve done.”

“That’s the way it is,” Kyle agreed. “That’s horse racing and that’s the way it goes. Gibson & Wright deserved to win because they had the better horses today. It was their day. Our hats are off to them.”

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