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Lexington Junior League - Friday Evening

It finally happened. The weather gods finally caught up to us. It’s been a long time since an entire session has been cancelled here, but Friday night it happened. Click this video link to see why. It got really sporty on the track in that magical window right before the show, where there isn’t enough time to get the ring worked to the level it needs to be and it’s too late in the day for the sun and the breeze to combine to have even a shot at helping out. It turned into a relatively lovely evening, with a scattered shower here and there, but the damage had been done. The outcome, however, was that everyone got to have a fun night in Lexington if they chose to. The only real downsides to this whole thing were having to show in the heat of the day on Saturday, re-prepping the horses to have them tuned up for a second straight night, and most importantly, any travel plans that got messed up by having to delay a day. Now we have Friday night on Saturday afternoon, and the track is fit for the elite equines that we have on hand.

Friday night’s schedule opened at 3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon with the traditional table-setter, the Junior Equitation Championship. A field of just three came to the ring in this one, with Alayna Applegate and Sofia Rashid squaring off in the top two spots. These two will continue to see a lot of each other over the course of their equitation careers. Alayna carried over the momentum from her qualifier win for a championship tricolor tonight with Blue Over You. Alayna has won her last four on the Red Mile, sweeping her walk-and-trot classes a year ago. Shelley Fisher directs this dynamic young talent. Jimmy and Georgia Morrison sent Sofia Rashid and CF Tonight’s All About Her in to vie for the crown, coming away as the reserve champions. Sofia moved up a spot from a year ago for this prize. She was the winner of the 12-13 Saddle Seat Equitation qualifier earlier this year.

While Gene Wright does the entertaining here at Junior League, it was Reedann’s Liberace as the winner of the Hackney Pleasure Driving Championship. Jacqueline Hawkes is the owner and driver under the direction of Steve Demjen. Top three in this class a year ago, Jacqueline and Liberace stepped up their game this year for the top spot. Liberace is by Heartland Head Of The Class and out of Heartland Velvet Rose. Qualifier winner Major Impact finished out as the reserve champion with Beth Jones as the driver. Connie Smith trains this team to the Ohio sweep of the top two places. Major Impact was the reserve champion at River Ridge earlier this season as well.

By Callaway’s Guy Park and out of a Callaway’s Full Power mare, Callaway’s Caroline Jackson, Jackson Park repeated his qualifier win to take the Parade Horse Championship with Jennifer Cunningham as the owner, trainer and rider. This sporty chestnut gelding has also shown successfully in park and pleasure this year with Jennifer. By CH El Cortez and out of Hope’s True Colors, the spotted Paddyngton’s Mark Of Distinction added red and yellow to his colors with the reserve tricolor. Owned, trained, and shown by Holly Armstrong, Mark Of Distinction has wins at MJMHA Classic, Heartland Classic, Red White and Blue Charity, and Inter County Horsemen’s June.

What a group it was in the Amateur Fine Harness Championship, with Costa Nostra and Magical Promises squaring off for the first time this season. It’s tough to top a gorgeous black horse in the late day sun, and the view from center ring proved that to be true today. Phyllis Brookshire continued a tremendous run with the black son of The Harlem Renaissance and The Golden Bough, by The Irish Connection. Matthew Shiflet was an animated coach on the rail tonight, pushing his driver and horse on to greater heights. They have yet to be touched in a championship round, winning tonight in unanimous style. Robert Gardiner and Anna Marie Knipp have Magical Promises in top form for High Spirits Farm, moving in an even more lofty fashion this season. A winner here all three years she has shown under the High Spirits banner, Magical Promises is by Mountain Promises and out of Harlem’s Rare Magic, by CF Rare Night Out. The Reserve World’s Champion of Champions a year ago, Magical Promises will be right in the conversation again when they swing the gates next month. Carol Reedy made a great drive in this wildly competitive group, guiding Take Me Home Tonight to third.

Owned by Janet Byron and trained by Janet Crampton, Little Big Town was the Junior Exhibitor Road Pony Champion tonight with Austin Grace Bentley at the lines. Also the winner of the qualifier here, Austin and Little Big Town have had great success in their first season together, winning unanimously today. Jessi McCurry made an even better drive today to claim the reserve tricolor at the lines of Roadrunner. Catch driving for Megan Whitby, Jessi made this show under the direction of Heather Boodey. She claimed the exact prize she needed to make her quick change before coming back to show in the very next class, as she got to leave the ring first!

That next class happened to be the Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited Pleasure Championship, which saw Agent Cool Blue and Clayton Stinnett take the tricolor honors for Woodlea Farms. Clayton puts a smooth and polished ride on a horse, regardless of which trainer is directing the entry. Steve Gassen has this team working just right, moving up a spot from the qualifier to take the top prize. Jessi McCurry left the ring first again, taking back-to-back reserve championships on the Red Mile! This one was with her own partner, CH Hey Joe. The entry of Double Doc Farms hustled down the rail to jump up to this spot with a great go. They were champions of this division at Blowing Rock and Raleigh Spring Premier this year for Harrison Shiflet Stables. Lucky You Lucky Me and Tea Snider were third for Duane and Tonna Snider and Mike McIntosh Stables, while Supreme Kiss and Milan Kordestani represented the West Coast and owners Omid and Milan Kordestani in fourth. They are directed by Jennifer Dixon.

The Concours d’Elegance was the domain of Little Bob tonight. The entry of Hadley Elizabeth Judd was driven by Scott Taylor. Hadley herself rode in the back of the carriage that was presented to her on her seventh birthday by grandfather Lanny Judd. The carriage was originally crafted for P.T. Barnum’s miniature horse General Tom Thumb. Little Bob is famous in his own right, having traveled the route in the Rose Parade on several occasions. Charles Poppe and his pair of Hackney Ponies made a good showing to their phaeton, earning reserve honors.

The Adult Five-Gaited Show Pleasure Championship was up next, featuring a tricolor ride for McGee Bosworth and CH I’m Something Wicked. Their storied career continued with their fourth Lexington victory pass to go with four reserves in their eight total classes on the Red Mile. The High Caliber team is an entry of Pair of Jacks Stables. These two have finished lower than third just one time in their career together, which began all the way back in 2011. Camille Cowart made sure the qualifier placings held true with a top ride as the reserve champion aboard her own CH What’s The Whoopla. It’s great to see these two young ladies continuing their careers into the adult ranks with the same kind of success we are accustomed to seeing from them. Camille and Whoopla were the champions of this division a year ago. He is by CH War Whoop Two and out of Like Fine Wine, by Sultan’s Starmaker. Central Perk and Amy Stinnett continued a good run for Woodlea Farms and Steve Gassen in third, with Stonecroft Rumor Has It and Jessica Cloud a good fourth for trainer Jack Magill.

With a late scratch of the Amateur Harness Pony Championship, the Amateur Three-Gaited Park Championship was up next on the program. Alexandra Lawson has a way of keeping to herself and finding great spots in big classes. She put on a horse show tonight to continue her strong campaign with Completely Caveat. The unanimous winners are trained by Todd Miles for owner James Williams. By The Caveat and out of Completely Elegant. The bay gelding was shining and shimmering under the sun today to repeat his qualifier finish. Stepping up a notch from the qualifier, Belle Reve’s Lady Madonna started with a surreal first pass into the ring as the first horse through the gate and continued it on to the reserve championship. Jacque Nance was aboard for Belle Reve Farm. Trainers Steve and Tiffany Wheeler have this team looking good. Lady Madonna is a full sister to CH Call Me Regal and looks ready to continue the family tradition. Morgan King and Nuttin’ But The Blues finished third for Judd Stables, while CH Let’s Talk brought McGee Bosworth back into the ring for the second part of her back-to-back performance, finishing fourth.

How many different ways can we tell you that A Sweet Inspiration is bred to the hilt. You will have to go a long way to find one better on paper. You will have to go a long way to find one better in the ring too, as Lisa Strickland rode to the Ladies Three-Gaited Championship tonight for Dr. Mary Ling. With now four wins on the season, the cross of Undulata’s Nutcracker and Sweet Illusion W.F. was the Ladies Three-Gaited Champion at Midwest Charity last month. The combination of perfect manners and a mile-long neck make for a great ladies entry. Trainer Kevin Tomasko is having a strong week under the Phoenix banner. He put Careen Cardin and Caramina’s Wow into the ring to earn the reserve championship. By Tornaado and out of a CH Caramac mare, this was the Ladies Three-Gaited winner at UPHA 14 Spring Premiere earlier this year. They were also reserve champions in the Three-Gaited Jackpot Stake at Greater Boston.

Milan Kordestani had a huge smile on his face as he rode to the winner’s circle with his hat held to his chest. He and CH His Supreme Reflection were the unanimous choice in the Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited Park Championship. Unbeaten now in their nine classes together, they faced off with some of the top entries in this division to come away with the biggest prize for trainer Jennifer Dixon. The grand chestnut gelding has a great history on this track. He was the Amateur Three-Gaited Champion here in 2012 and the Amateur Three-Gaited Park Champion in 2010. Just last year he was the Amateur Fine Harness Reserve Champion. Holding onto the same spot from the qualifier, Anderson Cooper was the reserve champion with Kimberly Earlywine aboard. The entry of Elaine Earlywine is trained by Jan Lukens. These two went into one of the absolute best and deepest classes at Devon this year and came away as the Amateur Three-Gaited Park Reserve Champions. Their season has been sensational so far in 2015. Caroline Rainbolt-Forbes finished third in this good group aboard Watermark’s A Kiss For Luck, with Double Black Diamond and Aubrey Behnke in fourth.

Follow Suit sported the beautiful Freedman Harness, gleaming in the sunshiny day. Linda Quinn was the driver for Gary Dickherber. Kent Swalla headed up the victory pass, presumably in one of his 179 Freedman belts. Follow Suit is by Grand Impression and out of Alton Belle, by Poinsettia’s Creation. This was the third class of the week for Follow Suit, starting with a  top three, then a second, and now a winning drive.

Still wearing her footwear from her days as a gaited horse, It’s All About Grace topped the Junior Three-Gaited Championship with Peter Cowart. Owned by Ellen Susman, All About Grace is by I’m Lookin’ For You and out of a Dorian Warriors Song mare. She is now two for two as a walk-trot, having won the junior under two the other night. Our Charming Heir was the reserve champion with Burt Honaker up for Roberta and Miriam Hirshon. This one is by Seaforth’s Billion Heir and out of World’s Grand Champion Our Charming Lady, another top young walk-trot out of the gorgeous bay mare in her new career.

Following up their first ever win at the Red Mile as Autumn Hills Farm, Steve and Tiffany Wheeler repeated the feat in the 13-and-Under Three-Gaited Show Pleasure Championship. Once again it was Cuttin’ Up making the top of all three cards with Nicole Jackson up for Sally Jackson. It’s easy to make an exception to your barn guidelines for a horse and family this nice. This was a fifth straight win on the Red Mile for Cuttin’ Up, really taking well to her job as a kids horse. Rondo and Emily Candelaria were once again reserve for Barbara Woods and Judd Stables. The champion of this division a year ago, Rondo had won eight in a row coming into this week. That streak extended back to the 13-and-Under Reserve World’s Champion of Champions performance in Freedom Hall last year. CH A Starless Nite and Madison Alley were third for trainer Andre Fourie, Forever Heaven and Mina Mueller rounded out the top four for Judd Stables.

It was a flop at the top of the ribbons in the 14-17 section of show pleasure, as Miss Can’t Be Wrong earned the 14-17 Three-Gaited Show Pleasure Championship with Nicole Percoco. By Sir William Robert and out of Mountainview’s Truly Amazing, Miss Can’t Be Wrong is a jet black mare owned by Jayne Romano and trained by Lionel Ferreira. She loved the Red Mile to pieces this week, making two special shows. Qualifier winner HS First Day made a go-forward, sporty show with Scotty Brooks Bruggeworth up for Annika Bruggeworth. Trained by DeLovely Farm, First Day is by Callaway’s Northern Kiss and out of A Daydream Believer (BHF). Also the reserve champion at Midwest, “Spencer” just loves a horse show, always working with his ears up and seeking out something fun to look at. Kalarama’s Witness and Alison Freeman finished third from the Jennifer Dixon contingent, while Stonehenge and Sausha Saunders were up for fourth for Mercer Springs.

Two one-horse classes were possibly the result of some premature track scouting, as one trainer pointed out that they looked at the track at noon today and it was a mess, prompting them to scratch all of their horses. At 6 tonight, that same trainer said, “This track is unbelievable! I’m mad we scratched!”

At least we got to see two special horses show though. It was Mr. Bones winning the Amateur Roadster to Bike Championship with Charlie Jones. Directed by his sweetheart, Jan Lukens, Charlie has had a great run with Mr. Bones, relishing every opportunity he has to show the grand gelding. This was their ninth win of the year together.

It’s pretty cool when the crowd comes alive for a one-horse class, but they did just that for Matt Shiflet and No Tan Lines in the Junior Five-Gaited Championship. This gorgeous mare is by Commander’s Stud Muffin and out of Miss Fiji LGF. Bought immediately following her debut at Southeastern Charity last year with breeder James Hale, No Tan Lines has been the Junior Five-Gaited winner at Asheville and J.D. Massey already this season under the ownership of George Anne and Jim Nash.

Ken Killinger really stepped up his game for Saturday night (well Friday night, really Saturday late afternoon), winning the Amateur Road Pony Championship with CH Sha-Boom. Heather Boodey and Megan Whitby headed up the victory pass tonight. This teamed earned this same championship at Dixie Cup and Raleigh Spring Premier earlier this season. CH Hawkeye’s Seven Eleven held his same spot as the reserve champion with Stacey Swalla. Seven Eleven was the Open Road Pony Reserve Champion here in 2013. Stacey made a great debut this week with the son of Mr. Hawkeye and CC & Seven.

Out of the excellent-producing cross of Undulata’s Nutcracker and CH Crystal Illusion (BHF), Undulata’s Crystal Crown AMF was the Junior Fine Harness winner for Gary Garone and owner Jan Beardsley Blanco. Crystal Crown was a World’s Champion as a two-year-old and a Reserve World’s Champion as a three-year-old. It was another nice show tonight for the top spot. By Belle Reve’s Renaissance Man and out of Lady Madeira, Our Lady Godiva was the reserve winner with Bob Phillips at the helm. The Bluebonnet entry of Edmund Perwien was the Junior/Novice winner at Big D this year.

Phyllis Brookshire had the rackin’ machine I’ll Bet You rocketing down the long straightaways to claim the Friday night/Saturday afternoon finale as the Ladies Five-Gaited Champions. The Matt Shiflet-trained entry of Don and Phyllis Brookshire is by Major Wager and out of CF Lightning Strikes Again. It was a great afternoon for Phyllis, winning her second class of the day. She was great here last year as well, winning the Amateur Five-Gaited Championship with Callaway’s No More Mr. Nice Guy. Maria Gilman rode her Tango Mango to the reserve tricolor. This one is by Dorian Warriors Song and out of Callaway’s Spring Fever, by CH Caramac. Reserve in the ladies mare class as well, Tango Mango is a top contender no matter what group of horses she is in.

That closed out the Friday night session at 6:20 p.m. Eastern time, on an absolutely gorgeous Lexington night. Talk about closing on a good note, it couldn’t be any better here tonight. 

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