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Lexington Hits The Top Of The Mark

            What a perfect way to end the week – absolutely delightful temperatures, a gorgeous Kentucky sunset over the Red Mile Race Track, and a rock ‘em sock ‘em horse show! The Five-Gaited Grand Championship was anticipated all through the night. All three qualifiers had highlighted plenty of talent and there were seven coming back! There was so much passion and enthusiasm building throughout the class that Mary Gaylord McClean had tears of joy in her eyes as they announced that stallion champion Top Of The Mark and Tre Lee were the grand champions. Christina and Andrea Athanasuleas were equally thrilled with gelding champion CH Honey Badger and Matt Shiflet who claimed reserve honors and the continued loyalty of their legion of fans. Todd Miles and Sabotage also got a generous applause for their third place finish for Annika Bruggeworth.

            It was actually an unbelievable night for Mary and Jeff McClean’s Golden Creek Farms as not only did they win the Five-Gaited Grand Championship, they also swept the open pony championships with Prime Time’s Choice LF, Go Daddy and Senator.

            The walk-trot grand championship was proclaimed by many to be the best they’ve witnessed on this track in a long, long time. In fact, the crowd never really stopped cheering from the Three-Gaited Championship to the Five-Gaited Championship. Eight outstanding entries with a long list of world’s and national championships answered the gate call and despite each entry giving it their very best, the judges managed to come up with a unanimous decision. Smith Lilly and junior champion over 2 champion Tango’s Token Kiss collected the honors and the thundering applause on behalf of owner Grace Arnold LLC. The crowd stayed on their feet to express their appreciation of reserve grand champion Don O’Neill and Chris Reiser who had won this title in 2015. That cheering section was led by the world’s champion’s proud owner Cindy Chesler.  Todd Miles again collected a huge expression of appreciation from the audience for Bruggeworth’s Harlems Wild and Wonderful who earned the third place streamers with an outstanding performance.

            Other exciting moments of the night included Bill Waller and Anna Wintour winning the Three-Gaited Park Championship much to the delight of Stephanie Wellington and Allie Nunley. Allie couldn’t have been more proud to share her mount with her trainer. “It’s so much fun to have a horse that can compete in the open division again,” exclaimed mother and daughter.

            A three-horse workout in the Ladies Amateur Three-Gaited Championship was another highlight of the night. Lady Wilhelmina and Ellie Kangur, Soquili’s Georgia Kracker and Caitlin Cline and Moonbeams and Dreams and Misdee Wrigley Miller were laying their hearts out on that track and the audience rewarded them again and again with a standing ovation. Mary and Evan Orr ran to meet Ellie in the winner’s circle and it was unclear who was stepping higher as Mary bubbled over with enthusiasm. It was certainly a class they’ll never forget.

            Misdee and James Miller and Larry Hodge certainly had a special night. In addition to being a part of that workout, Misdee won the Amateur Three-Gaited Championship with a unanimous decision aboard world’s and national champion HS Baby Steps. James earned a strong third place finish in a crazy competitive Amateur Five-Gaited Championship where Candi Covino Aversenti turned It on to nudge out Susan Swope and Undulata Pressure to claim the win. Amateur stallion/gelding champion Iconium and Vickie Byrd were fourth in yet another Saturday showdown of exciting talent. Misdee and James also celebrated with stablemates Nancy and William Bryan as Larry Hodge drove Futurette to the Fine Harness Grand Championship in a class that included Real Steel, We Must Be Nuts and Kalarama’s New York Lady.

            Besides the outstanding horses in the ring, there was another very special moment in center ring as the UPHA presented Bethel Henry Ward with the 2016 UPHA Caretaker Hall of Fame as he was surrounded by his huge number of friends and family. Ward has spent his lifetime caring for horses from the famed Dodge Stables, and legacies from that time, Martin Teater and Elizabeth Caldwell were a part of the large crowd that gathered to honor Ward.

            This is just a small sample of the highlights of Lexington Junior League. Be sure to read the July 18, 2016 issue of  Saddle Horse Report for complete coverage and review the results and judges cards at



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