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Chaser Crouch and Jack Bell win TransWest Western National Youth Champions

Saturday, June 23rd, 2018

July 23, 2018, Denver, Colo.

On the first day of the NCHA TransWest Western National Finals, Senior Youth competitor Chaser Crouch, Corsicana, Tex., scored 215.5 points for the championship on 11-year-old GS Zans Cat, by Smooth As A Cat, while Kensley Barnett, Oakley, Kan., and Brooke Turner, Bushnell, Fla., tied for the reserve with 215 points, riding 10-year-old Pepto Lucky Jewel, by Peptoboonsmal, and 5-year-old Checkaleno, by Ima Countin Checks, respectively.

Last year, Chaser Crouch showed GS Zans Cat LTE $166,328 as fourth-placed finalist in the NCHA Denver Nationals, as well as fifth-placed finalist in the Senior Youth; his father, Casey Crouch, also placed sixth on GS Zans Cat in last year’s Open finals.

This is his tenth trip to the Eastern or Western National Championships finals in the $35,000 Non-Pro or Youth divisions.

Junior Youth Finals

Junior Youth champion Jack Bell on Spin To You. Ted Petit Photography.

Jack Bell, Duluth, Minn., scored 219 points on 9-year-old Spin To You, by Mr Boonsmal To You, to win the Junior Youth championship. Kate Roberson, Mineral Wells, Tex., earned reserve with 215 points riding 11-year-old Catmerize, by High Brow Cat, and Aiden Marley, Cave Creek, Ariz., placed third with 214 points aboard 14-year-old San Tules Heritage, by San Tule Freckles.

Jack Bell and Spin To You LTE $73,318, made the leader board in 2017, as reserve champions in the NCHA World Finals. Spin To You had previously carried Kenny Platt successfully in open competition, as well as Robert Tregemba in amateur divisions.

Reserve champion Kate Roberson on Catmerize. Ted Petit Photography.

Kate Roberson placed in last year’s NCHA Denver Nationals Junior Youth Finals riding Smart Olee Smoke, where her mother, Nikki Roberson, showed Catmerize as a finalist in the $35,000 Non-Pro finals. Catmerize LTE $54,445, out of Merada Missy, by Freckles Merada, is a half-sister to Rambo Merada LTE $205,935 and Starched Wranglers LTE $200,334.

Aiden Marley placed third in last year’s NCHA Denver Nationals riding Shimmerz LTE $58,244, by Smart Lil Ricochet.

$25,000 Novice Round 1

Sharing the bill with the Youth was the first round of the $25,000 Novice division, where Scott Amos led the pack with a 222 on Lintons Playcat, owned by George Shaeffer of New Castle, Colorado. Casey Crouch had the second high score on Louis The Cat, the defending World Champion in this class, owend by Amy and Mike Delange and Rick Dubay of Fort Gratiot, Michigan.

In all, 24 horses marked 215.5 or better to advance to Sunday’s $25,000 Novice finals.

$25,000 Novice go-round leader Lintons Playcat, ridden by Scott Amos. Ted Petit photo.

Lintons Playcat is a 5-year-old gelding bred by David Hartman by Auspicious Cat out of Lintons Playgirl, a producer of earners of $549,000, including Stylish Playlin ($181,000) and Its All Play For Rey ($113,000).

Lintons Playcat, a $20,000 graduate of the Western Bloodstock NCHA Futurity Sales as a yearling, won both the Open and Non-Pro divisions of the Utah Derby last fall with Scott Amos, and Pamela Shaeffer, respectively, in the saddle.

The gelding was a $5,000 Novice finalist at last year’s Denver Nationals.

Louis The Cat was World Champion in the $25,000 Novice last year with Casey Crouch, and in the $25,000 Novice Non-Pro with Tyler Delange. The 8-year-old was bred by John Harrah by High Brow Cat out of Louella Again.

The horse took Tyler Delange to the $35,000 Non-Pro championship at last year’s NCHA Eastern Nationals, and to a reserve championship in the same class this spring. Crouch won $5,000 Novice reserve championships with him at both Jackson and Denver last year.

The NCHA Western Nationals at Denver continues through June 30.

Triple Crown winner Mike Smith at Ruidoso Downs

Tuesday, June 19th, 2018

Triple Crown winners Mike Smith and Justify.

Triple Crown winning jockey and New Mexico native Mike Smith will make a celebratory appearance at Ruidoso Downs on July 8 and lead the post parade for the seventh race.

Born in Roswell, NM, Smith won this year’s Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes on Justify, the 13th Triple Crown winner in Thorouhbred racing history. At 52, the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown, Smith mentioned Ruidoso Downs while Justify was returning to the Belmont Park winner’s circle.

“He left (the gate) like he was at Ruidoso going 440 yards.” said Smith, who was also the primary rider for the famous champion mare Zenyatta and the all-time leading money earner Arrogate.

Raised on a farm outside of Dexter, NM, Smith was riding in Quarter Horse match races by the time he was 11. In 1982, he acquired his jockey’s license and recorded the first win of his career at The Downs at Santa Fe. Known at “Big Money Mike,” for his success in the world’s premier races, Smith has won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness twice, the Belmont three times, and captured a record 27 Breeders’ Cup wins. He has also won the Irish 2,000 Guineas and the Dubai World Cup.

The winner of 5,400 over races and $313 million, Smith had his best year in 2017 when his horses earned $20,540,871 with an average earnings per start of $74,694. His one official start on a Quarter Horse was in 2002, when he finished finished third in the $156,800 El Primero Del Ano Derby at Los Alamitos, on Check Him Out.

“Mike is a global celebrity and we are honored by his willingness to come to Ruidoso Downs to share his Triple Crown celebration with us,” said Ruidoso Downs president and general manager Jeff True. “He is a wonderful ambassador of our sport and he never forgets where he came from.

“He told me his family will fill half the grandstand, so we are going to welcome them and all the other racing fans in New Mexico (on July 8) to celebrate his amazing accomplishments.”

Custom made posters of Smith winning the Belmont Stakes will be for sale at Ruidoso Downs on July 8, and Smith will be on hand for a special autograph signing session, where he will personally sign 100 posters. All proceeds for poster sales will go to the Permanently Disabled Jockey Fund.

For additional Ruidoso Downs information, go to the new www.raceruidoso.com

PCCHA Derby and Classic Non-Pro Champions

Sunday, June 17th, 2018

Cougars Diesel, a finalist in Friday’s PCCHA Core Balance Derby Open under Adan Banuelos, won the Derby Non-Pro on Saturday with 219 points for Bill Lacy, Crested Butte, Colo. Megan Miller, Poolville, Tex., claimed reserve with 216 points aboard Spur That Spot, as well as third-place with 213 points on Carolena Reyn, the PCCHA Core Balance Derby Open reserve champion on Friday with Matt Miller.

Bill Lacy

Bill Lacy, an NCHA Non-Pro Hall of Fame member with career earnings of $833,501, won the 2016 PCCHA Futurity Non-Pro with This Blonds Not Easy, who he also qualified for Saturday’s PCCHA Mercuria World Series of Cutting. Cougars Diesel LTE $30,181, by High Brow Cougar, made his career debut as an NCHA Futurity Open semi-finalist with Tatum Rice. He also carried Lacy as a finalist in the NCHA Super Stakes Non-Pro and ranked fifth in the Super Stakes Non-Pro Gelding division.

Megan Miller is the NCHA Non-Pro Hall of Fame earner of $1,110,809. Among her numerous championships, the 2018 NCHA Super Stakes Non-Pro win with Dual Smart Rey daughter Carolena Reyn LTE $124,784 counts as her most recent. She also showed Spur That Spot, by Spots Hot, as a Super Stakes Non-Pro semi-finalist.

Emily Clark, Bend, Ore., scored 222 points riding Cool Cat In Shades LTE $58,714 on Saturday to claim the PCCHA Core Balance 5/6 Classic Non-Pro championship. Cameron Thompson, Poolville, Tex., and This Isa Third LTE $148,372, by Third Cutting, earned reserve with 219 points, and Kate Banuelos, Las Vegas, Nev., placed third with 216 points on Bella Do LTE $10,563, by WR This Cats Smart.

Emily Clark and Cool Cat In Shades, a 2012 gelding by WR This Cats Smart, have been earning finalist checks since 2015, when they placed second in both the PCCHA Futurity Amateur Unlimited and the PCCHA Futurity Amateur finals.

Clark earned her first limited aged event checks in 2014 with LHR Who Dat Cat LTE $68,164, by High Brow Cat, who carried her to win the PCCHA Cutting Stakes Amateur, Amateur Gelding, Amateur Unlimited Gelding, and $25,000 Amateur divisions.

Cameron Thompson, the NCHA earner of $176,606, showed This Isa Third to win the 2017 Cotton Stakes 5/6 Amateur Unlimited and earlier this year to place in the NCHA Super Stakes 5/6 Classic Non-Pro. Thompson, who placed in the 2017 NCHA Non-Pro Top 15 World Standings and the 2017 NCHA Non-Pro World Finals, won the 2013 NCHA Eastern Nationals Senior Youth on Tracker Jones, the same year that he was reserve in the Southern Futurity Amateur Unlimited aboard SF Smart And Smooth.

This Isa Third made his career debut as 2015 NCHA Futurity Open Limited champion and place third in the NCHA Futurity Open with Kody Porterfield.

Kate Banuelos, the NCHA Non-Pro Hall of Fame earner of $633,190, has been a Mercuria NCHA World Finals winner in multiple divisions, as a Non-Pro and Amateur limited age event champion in numerous events. In 2003, she rode High Dollar Trix to claim the NCHA Futurity Amateur reserve championship, and in 2005, she earned $53,354, as reserve champion of the MillionHeir Classic on MH MillionHeir Oak.

Six-year-old Bella Do previously carried Kate Banuelos to place seventh in the Pacific Coast Winter Roundup.

June Bug Jam claims Open PCCHA Derby

Saturday, June 16th, 2018

Friday, June 15, 2018, Las Vegas, Nev.

Darren Simpkins

Darren Simpkins

June Bug Jam came into the PCCHA Core Balance Derby Open unheralded, with just $578 in earnings. But the 4-year-old Kit Kat Sugar daughter, shown by Darren Simpkins for Carol Ward, Rancho Murieta, Calif., took control with 223 points in the first go-round. She followed with 222 points in the second round, and on Friday, scored 224 points for the championship and an $18,000 paycheck.

Carolena Reyn, by Dual Smart Rey, bred and owned by Megan and Matt Miller, and shown by Matt, scored 223.5 points for the reserve championship and $15,000; while Nikes Lil Sue, by Boon Too Suen, placed third with 220 points, for $13,000, under R.L. Chartier for breeder and owner and Theresa Gillock, Las Vegas, Nev.

June Bug Dually, bred by Jeff and Margaret McCoy, is out of the Dual Pep daughter June Bug Dually LTE $222,860, shown by Simpkins to place third in the 2007 NCHA Futurity. Her half-sister, One Time In June, by One Time Pepto, is the earner of $71,032.

Carolena Reyn LTE $124,784 had earned money as a 2018 finalist in five limited age events before the PCCHA Derby, including the NCHA Super Stakes Non-Pro championship win with Megan Miller and the Arbuckle Mountain Open championship with Matt. She also gained this Saturday’s PCCHA Derby Non-Pro finals with Megan, who qualified with Spur That Spot, by Spots Hot, as well.

Matt Miller

Matt Miller.

Matt Miller also won Friday’s PCCHA Core Balance 5/6 Classic and $12,500 with 226 points on Mistresssis LTE $165,625, sired by Metallic Cat and owned by Holy Cow Performance Horses.

Carolena Reyn is out of Carolena Moon LTE $76,150, producer of the 16 earners of over $800,000, including A Smooth Criminal LTE $137,656, by Smooth As A Cat; Stylish Swagger LTE $122,996, by Stylish Rey; and Reylena Moon LTE $118,075, by Dual Rey.

Nikes Lil Sue LTE $24,948 was a 2017 NCHA Futurity Open semi-finalist and placed seventh in the 2018 Breeders Invitational Open with R.L. Chartier. She is the first performer out of Cat In White Nikes LTE $53,026, by High Brow Cat.

R.L. Chartier also claimed the PCCHA Core Balance 5/6 Classic reserve championship and $10,500 with 225.5 points on Crafty With Cows LTE $256,430, sired by High Brow CD and bred and owned by Carol Ward. Ward also qualified for Saturday’s Non-Pro Classic finals with Crafty With Cows and is in the Mercuria NCHA World Series of Cutting Non-Pro finals with Spooked By A Cat.

Moms Stylish Player LTE $301,939, sired by Lizzys Gotta Player and owned by Robert Tregemba, Lawrence, Kan., scored 223.5 points for third place and $8,500 in the PCCHA Core Balance 5/6 Classic.

Blue Corazon wins $1 million Ruidoso Futurity

Monday, June 11th, 2018

Blue Corazon winning the Ruidoso Futurity.

Ruidoso Downs, NM, June 10, 2018

Blue Corazon won the first leg of Quarter racing’s Triple Crown, the $1 million Ruidoso Futurity, on Sunday, June 10, in his second start. The Coronado Cartel-sired gelding, trained by Rodolfo “Rudy” Valles for Newman Cattle Co, claimed the one-half-length, 350 yard victory in 17.783 seconds, under Raul Ramirez Jr.

Second-placed Suze Returns, trained by Juan Carlos Gonzalez for Joe Rios, had been the 3-1 morning line favorite. It was the High Rate Of Return daughter’s fourth start. She began her career with an overpowering two-and-one-quarter-length win in her West Texas Futurity trial and claimed the West Texas Futurity victory, before winning her Ruidoso Futurity trial.

Before the $759,000 Ruidoso Derby, which he won on Saturday, June 9, with Jess Move You, trainer Rudy Valles had never won a stakes race. But following Sunday’s $1 million Ruidoso Futurity with Blue Corazon,  the 24-year-old trainer had earned two Grade 1 stakes victories in the one weekend. The only other two trainers to win the Ruidoso Derby and the Ruidoso Futurity in the same year are hall of famers Sleepy Gilbreath (1998) and Russell Harris (2000).

Blue Corazon, a gelding by Coronado Cartel, showed his potential in the Ruidoso Futurity trials when he won his trial by one-and-one-half lengths. His time of :17.985 was the second-fastest time on the first of two days of trials. “He’s always been a pro and he acted ready,” said Valles. “This whole weekend has been a dream. It’s impossible to put into words. After the trials, (both) horses came back well, but you still don’t ever think that this can happen.”

Jess Move You will now be pointed at the trials to the $750,000 Rainbow Derby on July 8, while Blue Corazon will be entered for the trials of the $1 million Rainbow Futurity on July 6-7.

Justify? No more arguments

Saturday, June 9th, 2018

Justify wins the Triple Crown.

Saturday, June 9, Belmont Park, NY

“He left there like he was going 440 at Ruidoso,” said Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, who had just won the 1-1/2-mile Belmont Stakes aboard Justify to claim the Triple Crown. Justify is one of only 13 horses to have won the Triple Crown since 1919, when Sir Barton took the first.

Justify is also the only other Triple Crown winner besides Seattle Slew to come into the Belmont Stakes undefeated. However, Seattle Slew began his career as a 2-year-old; Justify did not make his debut until February 18, 2018, when he was three.

“It was almost like getting a Quarter Horse ready to run,” said Justify’s Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, referring to the short time span between the stallion’s first start and the Kentucky Derby.

Baffert won the Triple Crown in 2015 with American Pharoah and is now tied with James “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons (Gallant Fox in 1930 and Omaha in 1935) for most winners in the 99-year history of the Triple Crown.

“Bob made my dream come true,” said Mike Smith, who at 52 became the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown. Early in their careers, Baffert and Smith both raced at New Mexico’s Ruidoso Downs, where the first leg of Quarter racing’s Triple Crown, the $1 million Ruidoso Futurity takes place on Sunday, June 10.

2019 AQHA Hall of Fame Inductees Announced

Friday, June 1st, 2018

Six horses and five American Quarter Horse Association members have been selected for induction into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2019.

The horses in the Class of 2019 are Harlan, a 1951 buckskin stallion; Mr Jess Perry, a 1992 sorrel stallion; Tiger Leo, a 1958 sorrel stallion; Vital Signs Are Good, a 2000 red roan mare; and Zippos Mr Good Bar, a 1984 red roan stallion. The 1976 Thoroughbred mare Trippy Dip will also join the Hall of Fame.

The AQHA members who will join the Hall of Fame are Billy Allen of Scott City, Kansas; AQHA Past President Johne Dobbs of Gastonia, North Carolina; the late J.M. Frost III of Houston; the late Hans Hansma of Granum, Alberta; and AQHA Past Executive Director of Publications Jim Jennings of Amarillo, Texas.

Two of the 2019 AQHA Hall of Fame inductees have strong ties to the National Cutting Horse Association:

Hans Hansma

Canadian Quarter Horse owner and breeder Hans Hansma (1917-1996), founded the Quarter Horse Association of Alberta, Canada and was a founding director of the Alberta Stakes and Futurities Association, which has become the Canadian Supreme, the largest western performance event in Canada. In 2002, Hansma was awarded the distinguished service award from The Horse Industry Association of Alberta.

Three of Hansma’s sons, Winston, Paul and Gerry, are NCHA Hall of Fame Riders. Winston Hansma, Weatherford, Tex., earner of over $2.3 million, and Paul Hansma, Fort Worth, Tex., earner of more than $6 million, are both NCHA Futurity Open champions. Gerry, Granum, Alberta, earner of over $1.3 million, is a Canadian Supreme and Calgary Stampede champion. Paul Hansma also bred 1994 NCHA Open Horse of the Year Hicapoo $446,712, who was out of Super Poo, a Hans Hansma family-owned mare.

J.M. Frost III (1914-2013), born on Frost Ranch in Houston, was a fourth-generation Texan, whose lifelong involvement with horses ranged from jumping horses, as a young man, to cutting horses, as a rider, owner and breeder, to race horses, as a breeder and owner. He was inducted into the NCHA Members Hall of Fame, and served as an AQHA director from 1962 until 1985, when he became one of the association’s first directors emeriti. At the 2013 AQHA Convention, he was recognized as the senior member of the AQHA board.

Harlan, foaled in 1951, also had ties to cutting competition. Bred by Paul and Jack Smith of Indiahoma, Okla., by Hank H out of Dixie Beach, in addition to an AQHA world champion, 17 AQHA Champions, eight Superiors, and two AA-rated race winners, in the early years of National Cutting Horse Association competition, Harlan also sired the NCHA earners of $15,241,