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Dabora/UPHA Classic Championships Pay Out $109,700


by Bob Funkhouser

Year in and year out Thursday evening at the UPHA American Royal National Championship Horse Show is one of the greatest nights of showing outside of Freedom Hall’s finale in August. The best of this country’s breeding programs, both large and small, are represented in eight Classic Championships for American Saddlebreds and Hackney ponies.

Fifty three-year-old Saddlebreds and 24 Hackneys, age four and under, competed in the prestigious Dabora/UPHA Classic Grand Championships and by the time the 13-entry Five-Gaited Classic Grand Championship closed out the evening’s competition, $109,700 had been paid out in prize money.

The future looks extremely bright as the Saddlebred Classics were phenomenal and the Hackney contingent was stronger than it had been in several years. In fact, for the first time since anyone can remember, the cob-tail and long-tail Classics were larger than the pleasure driving division which has been the largest nationwide.

Six of the 11 entered for the Dabora/UPHA Fine Harness Classic Championship showed up, and it was a group loaded with talent, particularly at the very top. One of the young horse sensations of Louisville, Joe Friday (Attaché’s Thunderbolt x Art Show) was back and was even stronger. Bred by Ed and Suzie Teater and shown by Nelson Green for Kenny and Ceil Wheeler, Joe Friday put on one of the greatest performances by a three-year-old harness horse in the history of the Classic Championships for the unanimous win. He was the real deal from start to finish and earned $5,720 for his championship performance.

Showing for Janet Sterba, Bret Day guided the black Supreme Heir daughter, Open Arms to the reserve grand championship and a paycheck of $4,290. Collecting $2,145 in third was Sister Sally, a homebred daughter of I’m A New Yorker, owned and shown by Kathy Capsuto.

Also in the money were three other youngsters with several blue ribbons already on their resume; Kent Brockman, Stonecroft Ring Leader and Another Filly. Being a graduate of the UPHA Yearling Incentive Sale two years ago, Another Filly picked up an additional $17,500 in incentive money for trainer Jay Wood and owners Peter and Catherine Radintz.

The Heartland Hackney breeding program continues to put ponies into the winner’s circle for owners and trainers all across the country. Jimmy Miller and Heartland In A Minute delivered a unanimous decision to turn back five other challengers for the $7,400 at stake in the Dabora/UPHA Road Pony Classic Championship. High Spirits Farm is the owner of the newly crowned Classic Grand Champion who is sired by former three-time Classic Grand Champion Heartland Equality and out of Heartland Satin Doll. The winner’s share of the prize money was $2,600.

Reserve grand champion honors belonged to Heartland Most Wanted, another top youngster owned by Jane Mueller and shown by Gib Marcucci. World’s Champion Extremely Rare was third with Randy Harper, followed by Regal’s Mysterious Stranger LF, Mr. Lucky Man and Regal’s Pandora LF.

The most surprising class of the evening was the Dabora/UPHA Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony Classic Grand Championship that had only four entries. That didn’t take away from those who did come to play, however, as they were a group of ponies with proven records.

The Majestic Oaks breeding program came out on top in this one as Hawkeye’s Seven Eleven (Mr. Hawkeye x CC And Seven) paraded to the winner’s circle with Sharon Lewis at the whip. Directed by Rich Campbell and Maureen Lydon at Majestic Oaks, Hawkeye’s Seven Eleven took home $2,320 of the $5,800 awarded in the Dabora/UPHA Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony Classic Grand Championship. Jim Yonker drove his Fitz’s Phantom to the reserve honors, followed by Heartland Breaking News with Kathy Kapsuto and Lynn Hutchinson with Daddy Oh.

Year after year the Park Pleasure Classic Championship is the largest of the eight championships and for 2006 a total of 22 entries filled the ring. From top to bottom this was a strong group of winning campaigners that will go on to be stars in several different divisions before it’s over.

Judges Lewis Eckard, James Nichols and Bill Waller tied the huge class without a workout and all three had the same number at the top of their cards. Number 437, The Rock Star, was the best of the 22 on this night as John Conatser headed to the winner’s circle for Locksley Hall LLC. The son of world’s champions Harlem Globetrotter and CH Reedann’s Phinery qualified for Kansas City with winning performances at Bonnie Blue and Midwest Charity, and this paycheck was worth $9,480.

Reserve money of $7,110 belonged to Fool For You (Harlem Globemaster x Selena’s Song), an entry ridden by Todd Miles for Lynda Norman. This was the second year in a row an entry shown by Miles for
Norman was the Dabora/UPHA Park Pleasure Classic Reserve Grand Champion. Robert Gardiner and Magilla Gorilla stepped up with a big show to command the yellow streamers for Jimmy Orphanos.

A total of $23,700 was paid out in the Park Pleasure Classic Championship. Also in the money were Belle Splendor, Stonecroft I’m Radiant, Alicia Silverstone, Charm’s Top Cat and Unlisted Number.

Absolutely one of the best cob-tail Classic Championships held in many years, the Dabora/UPHA Hackney Pony Classic Grand Championship featured nine extremely talented ponies with the country’s top drivers presenting them. There was a mix of types showing but when it was all said and done, Lord Ovation and amateur driver/owner Art Birtcher had victory lane to themselves. Returning to the show ring this year after a 17-year absence, Birtcher delivered the winning drive under the direction of Larry Bacon. They took home $3,080 for their efforts.

Having already won the pleasure driving section, Sharon Lewis was back again to take reserve grand champion honors in the cob-tail championship with Seamair’s Simply Awesome, a full brother to Seamair Strutter. Their performance was directed by Maureen Lydon and Rich Campbell. Showing for Kay Marschel, Dena Lopez presented Heartland Moonglow to a third place finish among the best young cob-tails in the country. Also in the ribbons were Heartland Alluring, Lady Juliet, Heartland Designed, Front Page News and Follow Suit.

Nine of the 14 entered for the Dabora/UPHA Three-Gaited Classic Grand Championship showed up. A total of $17,900 was available to the ribbon winners in this round and the largest share of that, $6,440, went to the unanimous grand champion Harlem’s Showman. The star of Midwest Charity earlier in the season, this black son of Harlem’s Globetrotter marched a huge trot off of both ends and did it with a wild expression. Robert Gardiner was the winning rider/trainer for owner Equielegance Ltd.

Harlem’s Showman was followed by Reserve World’s Champion ASR National Three-Year-Old Three-Gaited Futurity winner High Time’s Northern Son. Max Ciampoli was again in the saddle of this highly decorated youngster to command reserve grand champion honors for Gerald Miller. They were ahead of a strong group of contenders including Callaway’s Connotation, Kalarama’s Personality Plus, Gloria Vanderbilt, Callaway’s Happy Endings, My Stiletto and Milady A La Lucie.

There was a world’s champion lineup for the Dabora/UPHA Harness Pony Classic Grand Championship. Five leg-waving entries graced the ring but in the end it belonged to the multi-titled Heartland Beautiful Dreamer (Heartland Victory x Heartland Beauty), the wild going mare shown by Maureen Lydon for Mr. and Mrs. Darrel Kolkman. Beautiful Dreamer also won the Classic Grand Championship last year with Darrel Kolkman at the whip.

This win was an emotional one for Lydon who flew home early the next morning to be with her father who was battling cancer. Their championship performance earned $2,440. Also from the Kolkman’s breeding program, Heartland Look At Me was the reserve grand champion with Mike Barlow at the whip for Kay Marschel. Representing High Spirits Farm, Jimmy Miller and Unequalled were right there with a third place finish ahead of Regal’s Pride LF and Truly Naughty By Nature.

Thursday evening at the UPHA/American Royal closed with the 13-entry Dabora/UPHA Three-Year-Old Five-Gaited Classic Grand Championship. Truly the best of the best were represented and the gaited divisions look to be strong for years to come. It was an all-star lineup of current world title-holders and regional Classic champions.

The crowd enjoyed the performances given by the many stars, but none quite like the one given by Catalyst’s Work Of Art (Catalyst x Art Work). Purchased from trainer Jim Lowry and owner Priscilla Marconi following her sensational performance at Louisville, Catalyst’s Work Of Art was all that and more for new trainer Andy Freseth and new owner Nancy Leigh Fisher.

With ground-covering power and elegance to match, she blew away a great group of three-year-olds for the unanimous decision. It was a $7,480 paycheck for the grand championship win. Reserve to the champions was Pour Some Sugar On Me (Callaway’s Gold Rush x Feather Light), the current ASR Three-Year-Old Five-Gaited Futurity Reserve World’s Champion shown by Todd Miles for Deborah Butler’s Melrose LCC. Third place went to the sensational winner of that ASR Three-Year-Old Five-Gaited Futurity World’s Championship, Callaway’s Born For This. New trainer Nelson Green was aboard for new owner Stonecroft Farm.

Silver Brook Stables had the next two places nailed down with And I’m Stickin’ To It and Most Definitely Diamonds placing fourth and fifth with Debbie Foley and Tracy James riding, respectively. Julie Ann Wroble and current World’s Champion Silver And Blue finished in sixth, followed by Majestic’s Top Billing and Mountainview’s Flower Girl in the last two spots. In addition to the $600 the Chovanec family received for Majestic’s Top Billing in seventh, they received an additional $17,500 as this entry was part of the UPHA Yearling Incentive Sale two years ago. Not a bad paycheck for a seventh place ribbon.

That wrapped up the 2006 Dabora/UPHA Classic Grand Championships. What a wonderful night it was for the industry’s breeding programs, training programs and owners.

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