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Another Classic Kansas City Night

by Bob Funkhouser

Thursday night at the UPHA/American Royal has evolved into one of the greatest nights of showing in the Saddlebred/Hackney industry with the UPHA Classic Championships taking the stage in Kemper Arena. One of the longest running and most successful programs the UPHA ever came up with, the Classics have offered added prize money for three-year-old Saddlebreds and four and under Hackneys at the local and national levels for 30-some years now.

A total of 62 horses and ponies (43 Saddlebreds, 19 Hackneys) competed for more than $102,000 in prize money not to mention the additional $92,000 in additional money for those who were qualified from the 2006 UPHA Incentive Yearling Sale. Before the night was over, three trainers (Melinda Moore, Steve Demjen and Melissa Moore) split the $92,000 as each trainer had an entry from the 2006 sale that placed.

The evening started with the nine-horse UPHA Fine Harness Classic Championship that was loaded with talent from top to bottom in search of the $15,700 in prize money that was offered in that division. A world’s champion in harness as a two-year-old with Peter Cowart and again as a three-year-old this year with Mark Turner, the McGinnis family’s top entry, The Chick Magnet, was the unanimous choice among judges Chuck Herbert, John Jones and Jimmy Robertson. This multi-titled star is sired by Deep Blue and out of the Hayfield’s Last Guy daughter, Dixie Chicken. Having overcome a broken leg that he sustained not long after being born, MBA’s Royal Shadow Phax (Attache’s Royal Assets x CH Cary’s Moonraker) has been a hero to owner Margo Baird and trainer Pat McConnell. Midwest Charity’s Three-Year-Old Fine Harness Champion this year put on a stellar performance to command reserve honors in this Classic championship.

Mike Roberts and World’s Champion Lovely Addition were third in the good class, followed by Cary Bartz and My Bling, Steve Demjen and Curtis Lowe (one of the UPHA Incentive Money colts), Smith Lilly with Platinum’s Moon Over Pluto (another offspring of CH Cary’s Moonraker), Scott Perrelli with Leatherwood’s Starlogic and Clark Clouse with She’s Gone.

Seven of the 19 Hackneys showing on Thursday night came from the UPHA Road Pony Classic Championship in which Romeo’s Kristy Lee left no doubt she was the grand champion. Driving by Andy Freseth for the Gise family, the beautiful and powerful Kristy Lee earned $2,760 for her unanimous performance. Reserve money went the way of Velvet King and Dr. Alan Raun for Reedannland. Nashville Cat, Sha Boom, Heartland Curtain Call, Regal’s Lightning Strike LF and Twin Willow’s Macerator rounded out the ribbon winners.

Following the UPHA Senior Challenge Cup National Finals, a disappointing four pleasure driving ponies made their way into Kemper Arena for their Classic championship. Driving for owners/breeders Mr. and Mrs. Darrel Kolkman, Kathryn Nichols presented Heartland Direct Hit (Heartland Head Of The Class x Heartland Princess) down victory lane to return to the Majestic Oaks tack room with the winning loot. This young star began the year as a winning road pony, but made the successful transition to the pleasure ranks with Nichols, Toni Nastali and Juliet McDonald all having winning drives during the season. A winner at the Alabama Charity, Louisiana Fall Festival and Illinois State Fair before the American Royal, Romeo’s Exclamation Mark, a son of Romeo LF, was the reserve grand champion with Stephany Monteleone driving under the direction of Abel Vega.

The UPHA Park Pleasure Classic Championship was half the size of last year’s 22-horse class, but nonetheless, it was filled with expressive youngsters, many of which still trying to figure out which division they will ultimately be shown in. On this night the most expression and the most talent belonged to an explosive daughter of World’s Champion Sir William Robert aptly named With Style And Grace. Robert Gardiner debuted this filly at Midwest with great reviews and then owner Katherine Hansil had the unfortunate luck of the filly getting sick for Louisville and the All-American Classic, keeping her out of those big-money events. With two months off, With Style And Grace came back with a vengeance to trot down victory lane with the winning paycheck of $6,840.

A reserve world’s champion in the ASR Three-Year-Old Park Pleasure National Futurity, Captain Kangaroo (Castle Bravo x CH Sue Elegant) paraded as the Classics Reserve Grand Champion with Bob Brison aboard for Theresa Vonderschmitt. Winner of that ASR Park Pleasure Futurity World’s Championship and the first ever All-American Three-Year-Old Cup, Pola Negri has earned a load of prize money this year and this night he commanded third place money in the deep Classics championship with Chris Reiser riding for Steve and Ellen Hanes. Also in the money were Fox Grape’s Forever Yours, Certain Style, Tremendously Charming, Telling Secrets and the second of the UPHA Incentive Money winners on the evening, Innovator in eighth.

Just as they’ve done all season long, Heartland Fortune Maker (Heartland Head Of The Class x Heartland Dainty Miss) and Bob Phillips didn’t leave the door open for anyone else to take the first prize in their division, the UPHA Hackney Pony Classic Championship. From River Ridge to Syracuse to Louisville the current Junior Hackney Pony World’s Champion of Champions was again brilliant to earn the unanimous Classics championship with Phillips at the whip for Faydelle Schott. Driving for Muffy Ernster, Gib Marcucci took Louie Smith to the reserve championship.

With more than $17,000 in prize money on the line, 11 entries competed for the UPHA Three-Gaited Classic Championship and this one was a unanimous decision as well. Purchased from Soquili Stables back in the winter during the All-American Cup Stallion tour, the elegant Undulata’s Nutcracker daughter who is out of a Callaway’s Blue Norther mare, Soquili’s Georgia Kracker was a standout on this night with Bob Brison making the winning ride for Theresa Vonderschmitt. Their only other show of the season was a win in the UPHA Classic at St. Louis. A reserve world’s champion last year and winner of the ASR Three-Year-Old Three-Gaited Sweepstakes this year, Catalyst’s Blonde Ambition (Catalyst x Art Work) was cranking her legs to take reserve with Jim Lowry in the irons for Tri Color Ventures Inc. Also turning in a top performance, Simply Stella continued her good year with a third place finish for Mark Utoft and owner Seven Oaks Farm. A Storm Star, Entourage, Majestic’s Jackie O, I’m Custom Designed and Bugatti’s Pinata also went home with prizes.

Two more Classics remained with a respectable five showing in the UPHA Harness Pony Classic Championship and this came down to a battle of current world’s champions. Winner of the three-year-old title at Louisville as well as the Midwest Three-Year-Old Hackney Futurity, Regal’s Norma Jean LF (Dun-Haven Regal Attraction x Romeo’s Keepsake LF) made the last pass with Abel Vega in the viceroy for Stephany Monteleone. Crystal Creek’s Hot Shot, the homebred Junior Harness Pony World’s Champion Of Champions for Carl and Kathryn Nichols was the UPHA Classics Reserve Grand Champion with Maureen Lydon driving. Co-trainer Rich Campbell, in a show of sportsmanship, ran to the winner’s circle to congratulate Vega and wish him a happy birthday. Rounding out the ribbon winners were Heartland Undeniable, Image Of Sophistication and Twin Willow’s Triumphant.

The grand finale of the evening was the fitting 12-horse UPHA Five-Gaited Classic Championship. This was truly a class with champions from top to bottom, as every ribbon winner had been a star this season. Of the $19,300 offered in prize money, the first place share of $7,720 belonged to the Missouri Horseperson Of The Year, Donna Moore. With Moore in attendance, daughter Melinda Moore rode Our First Class Day TS to the top prize, completing the Triple Crown for the black son of CF First Night Out and Georgia Day Dream (by Sultan’s Great Day). The crowd was also behind the reserve champion, a hard-charging colt from Reedannland named Caper’s Spotlight who was ridden by Louis Louw for Shields and Associates. Before the week’s end, Mary and Michelle Krentz were the owners of this talented colt. Current World’s Champion Undulata’s Health Nutt was third with Bob Brison, while current reserve world’s champion I’m Looking For You was fourth. Also in the money were current World’s Champion Callaway’s Don’t Sass Me, Boxers N Chaps, Perfectly Designed and MBA’s The Powers That Be.

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