2017 AQHA Racing Champions
Congratulations to repeat world champion Jessies First Down.
January 1, 0001
For the first time in more than 15 years, a horse has become a repeat world champion.
That horse is Ted Abrams’ homebred Jessies First Down, who is honored as the 2017 World Champion Racing American Quarter Horse. The 2011 gelding by FDD Dynasty and out of the Mr Jess Perry mare Jess A Classy Lassy is also the champion aged horse and champion aged gelding. He earned the same awards last year, as well, and is one of 10 horses to earn multiple world championship titles. The previously most recent winner was Tailor Fit, who was world champion in 1999 and then again in 2001.
Jessies First Down won five of seven starts during the year and earned $468,757. His stakes victories include the Grade 1 All American Gold Cup and Zia Park Championship, the Albuquerque Fall Championship and the Bank of America Houston Championship Challenge (G2). He was second in the Remington Park Invitational (G1) and third in the Championship at Sunland Park (G1). He was most recently trained by James B. Padgett and was ridden by Rodrigo Vallejo. In his career, Jessies First Down has won 15 of 34 starts and has earned $1,050,864.
Iowa-bred The Fiscal Cliff is the champion aged stallion. Bred by Tom Lepic and owned by Whitmire Ranch, the stallion won four of nine starts during the year, earning $273,947. All four of those wins were stakes – the Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1), Bob Moore Stakes (G2), Bank of America Canterbury Championship Challenge and Skip Zimmerman Memorial Stakes. The Fiscal Cliff is by PYC Paint Your Wagon and out of the Shazoom mare Signs Zoomer. He was trained by Kasey Willis and ridden by Cesar Gomez, Benito Baca and David Pinon.
Jess Good Reason gave a good reason to smile, as the 2013 mare is the champion aged mare for the late John Sperry and his wife, Cina. Trained by Paul Jones, the mare won the Charger Bar Handicap (G1) to start off the year, was second by a nose in the Mildred N. Vessels Memorial Handicap (G1) and then won her Z. Wayne Griffin Director’s Trial before running fourth in the Champion of Champions (G1). She earned $137,082 during the year. Jess Good Reason is by Good Reason SA and out of the Feature Mr Jess mare Jess Call Me Tieing. She was bred by Preston and Karen Cloud, and ridden by Oscar Peinado and Jesus Rio Ayala.
Hold Air Hostage was never worse than third in eight starts, including six wins, and earned $1,200,939 to be the champion 3-year-old and champion 3-year-old gelding. Owned by Darling Farms, the Apollitical Jess gelding is out of the Fols Gold mare Fols Zookie Cookie. He was bred by Luis Miguel Albores Gleason. His stakes wins include the All American Derby (G1), Rainbow Derby (G1) and Heritage Place Derby (G2). He was most recently trained by James B. Padgett and ridden by Omar Reyes, Ricky Ramirez and Rodrigo Vallejo.
New Mexico star Running Dragon is the 3-year-old champion filly for breeder and owner By By JJ LLC. The filly, by Zulu Dragon and out of the Devon Lane (TB) mare Banking Lane, won four of 10 starts, all stakes, and earned $328,384. She won the New Mexico Fillies and Mares Championship (RG1), Shue Fly Stakes (RG2), NMHBA Stakes (RG2) and Sunburst Stakes (G3). She was most recently trained by Juan Gonzalez and ridden by Adrian Ramos.
The winner of half of his eight starts during the year, Duponte is the champion 3-year-old colt. He races for breeder Bobby D. Cox in partnership with Kristen and Homero Paredes, and was most recently trained by James B. Padgett. He was ridden by Rodrigo Vallejo and Jose Alvarez. The sorrel son of American Runaway and out of the Ivory James mare Havanah Goodtime was third in the All American Derby (G1) and was a finalist in three other stakes, and earned $274,203 during the year.
J Fire Up was dangerous all year long. The champion 2-year-old and champion 2-year-old filly was never worse than second in nine starts during the year – and won seven of them. Racing for breeder and trainer Jaime Gomez, who owns her in partnership with Ernesto Solis and champion owner Darling Farms, the filly earned $1,430,411 while winning the Grade 1 Golden State Million and Los Alamitos Two Million futurities and the Governor’s Cup Futurity (RG1) and finishing second to champion KVN Corona in the Ed Burke Million Futurity (G1). J Fire Up is by Kiddy Up and out of the Walk Thru Fire mare This Boogie Fires. She was ridden by Jose Nicasio.
Eagle Jazz won seven of eight starts during his freshman season, and is the champion 2-year-old gelding for breeder and owner Juan A. Medina. The son of One Dashing Eagle out of the Tres Seis mare Baja Jazz has to his credit a dead-heat win in the Ruidoso Futurity (G1) and a win in the Rainbow Futurity (G1), as well as a second-place run in the Remington Park Oklahoma-bred Futurity (RG2). He earned $902,849 in the year. He was most recently trained by James B. Padgett, and ridden by Agustin Silva and Rodrigo Vallejo.
The only undefeated champion of the year was KVN Corona, who went 6-for-6 for owner Keith Nellesen and is the champion 2-year-old colt. Trained by Paul Jones and ridden by Ramon Sanchez, the colt won the Ed Burke Million Futurity (G1) over fellow champion J Fire Up, and also won the PCQHRA Breeders’ Futurity (G2). He earned $577,450. KVN Corona was bred by McColee Land & Livestock LLC and is by Corona Cartel and out of the Executive Menace mare Executive Looks.
Mo Racing’s B And G Fast Dash is the champion distance horse. Earning three stakes wins in five starts, the Louisiana-bred won the Restricted Live Oak and Races And Aces stakes, and set a track record in the Faubourg St. John Stakes. The 5-year-old gelding earned $73,400. Bred by B & G Group Investments Inc., he is by Heza Fast Dash and out of the Gold Regent (TB) mare Rita Regent. He was trained by champion trainer Kenny Roberts and ridden by Donald Watson.
Mexican champion Reina De Reinas name translates to “queen of queens,” and during her reign, she won six of seven starts and earned $176,598. Racing for breeder Luis Miguel Albores Gleason – who also bred champion Hold Air Hostage – the filly won the Mexico Futurity (R) and Subasta Selecta Futurity (RG3). She was most recently trained by Leonilo Cruz Garcia and ridden by Moises Gonzalez and J.A. Ambrosio. She is by La Jollaroid and out of the Royal Quick Dash mare Royal Miss Della.
Dale Zukowski’s Bringonthewave is the Canadian champion. The 2-year-old gelding by Wave Carver out of the Corona Cartel mare Special Corona won five of six starts during the year. He won the Jerry Stojan Memorial Futurity and Alberta-bred Futurity (RG3) and earned $41,745. He was trained by James Doolin, and ridden by Adrian Gonzalez and Ramero Castillo. Bringonthewave was bred by Shady Lane Stables.
Erico Braga’s homebred Prime Panther is the South American champion after winning the Bank of America South America Championship Challenge. The gray stallion is a son of Panther Mountain out of the Royal Streakin mare Shezaroyaldream (BRZ).
Repeating as the sport’s champion breeder is Bobby D. Cox of Fort Worth, Texas. The member of the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame last year bred 78 winners from 195 starters that earned more than $3.4 million, including champion Duponte.
Dan Darling’s Darling Farms of Lamont, Oklahoma, had two champions – Hold Air Hostage and J Fire Up – and is the champion owner. In his own name, he had 20 winners from 150 starters and earnings of more than $1.4 million, and in partnership had another $1.4 million in earnings.
Veteran trainer Kenneth L. Roberts is honored as the Blane Schvaneveldt Champion Trainer. The sport’s No. 5 all-time leading trainer, Roberts in 2017 saddled 116 winners from 472 starters, and the earners of more than $2.8 million.
Rodrigo Vallejo is the sport’s champion jockey. He won 71 of 328 starts and earned more than $3.2 million, and sat on champions Jessies First Down, Hold Air Hostage, Duponte and Eagle Jazz.