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High Numbers at Churchill Downs...and Kentucky Spring Premier

by Christy Parsons and Sadie Killian

Posted May 16, 2002

LEXINGTON, Ky.--It's impossible to be at two places at once, but last Saturday some people came pretty close to doing just that.

Some watched the race on small tack room televisions, others listened to portable radios. Soon enough, War Emblem became the official winner of the 2002 Kentucky Derby in Louisville.

From that climactic point on, Saturday evening's tone was set and the final session went on to be one of three very exciting nights of hot competition at the Kentucky Spring Premier Horse Show. Lexington's Kentucky Horse Park was again the home of the show, held May 2-4.

The facility provided many a chance to check out several exhibits inside the horse park like the American Saddlebred Museum. There are also several retirement barns located inside the park and exhibitors who toured these barns could see famous champions like Cigar, Ramblin Willie, and CH Gypsy Supreme at ease in their homes. While seeing these former stars was wonderful, the real excitement last weekend was inside the park's arena. There appeared to be a very significant crowd, both in the stands and ring.

"I was really impressed with the number of horses that showed up for classes and also with the quality of horses. Even in the open division, which tends to be light, was strong. There were just great horses at this horse show...horses that are going to be contenders at the Kentucky State Fair," UPHA President John Conatser said.

Conatser, also the show's manager, added that Mark Turner did a fantastic job judging the show.

Judging seven horses in the Fine Harness Stake was just one task for Turner. In the end, It's My Prerogative and Bret Day teamed up for top honors. Dena Lopez debuted with world's champion Tigerlee and took number one, out of six horses, in the Five-Gaited Stake. Finally, multi-titled world's champion American Wine and George Knight won the Three-Gaited Stake, beating four other contenders.In addition to strong open classes, the amateur and junior exhibitor divisions thrived as well. Show officials were pleased with the strong turnout in all divisions. John Conatser; Beth Snider, show secretary; Doug Shiflet, show photographer; Wyatt Lilly, announcer; and farrier Bob Durbin helped the show successfully kickoff the season for many top contenders in the Saddlebred industry.

The Five-Gaited Championship finished off a fantastic evening of horse show on Friday night with Dena Lopez showcasing her talents aboard Tigerlee. Walt and Jackie Stred were delighted with the bold performance. An altogether different kind of horse, My New Years Eve and Rob Byers, attracted their own fan club to earn the reserve tie for Golden Creek Farms.

The ladies class was small but competitive with Melissa Moore in the winners circle for the Liberty Saddlebreds aboard Spent A Fortune. Emily Webster did the honors aboard Sportscaster for Cheradon Acres.

Callaway's High Roller was on a roll Saturday night. Amy Dix Rock was in the irons for she and Edna Dix to claim the very competitive Five-Gaited Amateur Championship after earning the reserve in the qualifier to Sally Jackson and Cat's Don't Dance. This talented team is under the direction of Melissa Moore and Jerry Hutson. Denise Stumbo and her own Callaway's Royal Carriage earned the reserve in the championship and our own Bob Funkhouser made a quick trip to Kentucky to show The King of Music for his wife Raye Lynn Funkhouser.

Liz Shatner earned her husband's applause and the crowd's with a nice win in the amateur mares qualifier aboard Assets and Attitude. Amusing and Stacy Arnold Englert made some big passes on their way to reserve.

Kelsey Price was on fire on Saturday night. She won both the Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited Championship and the Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited Championship. Her gaited mount Fox De Jour went head to head with Meredith Neal and Sartorial Splendor in quite a showdown. The two hard-riding young ladies were reversed in the qualifier with Neal coming out on top.

Eight entries showed in the Denver Junior Five-Gaited Class. Mark Webster attracted a lot of attention with Uhlens Dream, an entry of the Hundred Acre Wood Farm, and by show's end the horse was sold to Donna Moore, who is always on the lookout for a really nice horse. John Conatser and Bongo left no room for error with a challenging reserve performance for owner Candace Meili.

Danette Musselman directed High In The Sky to the novice winner's circle for Brian O'Shaughnessy. Mike Felty earned the reserve honors in the class for Jackie Wahrmund aboard Doubletree's Confederate.

Cydni Simmons and her little world's champion CH Sammyshine were at the top of their game to earn the Five-Gaited Pony Class under the direction of the Cape Cod Farm. Rebecca Salley showed off Scoot Boot and Boogie and a lot of work on her riding over the winter with an excellent performance to earn the reserve tie.

For complete show coverage see the May 13 edition of Saddle Horse Report.

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