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Lexington Junior League - Friday Night

Friday night’s session started a good half hour later than originally intended, as the USEF Adult Saddle Seat Medal National Finals were postponed from the morning session. After waiting the extra time, the Walk-and-Trot Equitation Championship hit the ring all primed and ready… and then a shoe went flying. Perhaps it wasn’t a momentum-building moment for the evening session, but it is all a part of the horse show world we love. Fighting through and keeping her poise and focus, Joanna Ricci headed to the winner’s circle with a huge smile on her face aboard CH Callaway’s Coraleen. Jessie Richardson accompanied her there with a matching smile. The Kierson Farm team gave her big cheers as she left with the tri-color. A winner on Wednesday morning, Haley Mitchell was reserve today with Miss M heiry Mac. She has really burst onto the scene this week for trainer Greg Reason, impressing judges and spectators alike. Also in this class were a trio of adorably named young riders with the first names Maisie, Dazi, and Jozee.

A field of 13 came to the ring for the Hackney Pleasure Driving Championship. In one of the deepest, most competitive fields of ponies ever assembled in one ring in this division, it was CH Mastercraft’s Namesake LF who stepped up to the plate and defended the 2009 championship crown with Stephany Monteleone. Two years in a row now this pleasure perfect team has taken this tri-color home for trainer Abel Vega. A World’s Champion team a year ago, they were also National Champions at the Royal. In her first year out of junior exhibitor, young Lauren Mathewson made one of her best drives ever with Catch Me If You Can to take the Reserve Championship for Frickey Farms. They were Junior Exhibitor Road Pony Reserve Champions here a year ago. Heartland Stepaside and Ali DeGray finished third for Helen Rosburg, while the qualifier winner, Zildjian, was fourth for Caitlin Leith. As Peter Cowart led Zildjian out of the ring in fourth, Heartland Parade Time was called out for fifth with Tamra Arndt. Kim Cowart led the other West Wind entry out of the ring right behind. Cherry Royale and Caroline Rainbolt Forbes took on the big kids with a sixth place drive for the Rainbow Princess Farms, while Heartland Smooth Operator and Donna Zimmerman were seventh. Charlotte Wrather rounded out the ribbon winners with Boxford Courageous Spirit. There were multiple World’s Champions that ended up without a prize in this stunningly stellar class. It might have been the best division of the week in terms of top-to-bottom quality.

The Kiss Of The Zodiac made it two years in a row to sport a tri-color ribbon here on the Red Mile. Last year, it was Faye Wuesthofen that earned the Senior Saddle Seat Equitation Championship with "Zodi." This year, new teammate Courtney McGinnis is really hitting her stride, using a hard-riding railwork and a precise pattern to tiptoe through the lightly sprinkling rain and top a tough field of six. Reserve in the Wednesday morning qualifier, Gavin Gagnon was the Reserve Champion with Callaway’s Born A Star. Directed by Fairfield South, Gavin is in his final year of 13-and-Under, though it seems like he has been showing and riding hard since the beginning of time. Clara McCool, the Walk-and-Trot Champion here a year ago, was third in this one with Highpoint’s Syncopated Rhythm for the Cater Stables team.

The Amateur Fine Harness division is always a strong one here on The Red Mile, but how many times have you seen a five-horse class where every single entry was a Louisville winner? That’s what the Lexington crowd had the pleasure of witnessing on Friday night, as five incredibly talented horses hit the reconstructed show surface. Though we don’t think James Miller ponied up the Porsche after his fantastic win on Tuesday night, Larry Hodge and Sam Stafford still had his horse working in top notch form to take a unanimous championship here tonight with Heir’s Treasure for Hillcroft Farm. Purchased after Louisville last year, Heir’s Treasure has just continued to improve with Miller. The Amateur Gentlemen Fine Harness World’s Champion looks more than ready to defend that crown and has his sights set on an even bigger prize. It was a nice ovation from the crowd that sent Reserve Champions Anita Simpson and CH Mother Mary out with Smith Lilly jogging beside them. Always a favorite of the crowd, this big, bold mare has all sorts of presence about her. She was working even higher in the bridle tonight, lifting her front end up to an even more extreme height. The three-time defending Ladies Fine Harness World’s Champion of Champions Lady Vol was third for Chris Kaplan and Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery of Mid-Missouri. Joe Friday, who lights up a crowd wherever he goes, was fourth with Ali DeGray at the helm for Helen Rosburg. Ali drives Joe Friday with flair and panache, pushing him to even greater heights. Unclaimed, a Louisville winner and five-time Reserve World’s Champion, was fifth with Jan Beardsley Blanco.

Organist Gene Wright played "Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head" as the Amateur Harness Pony Championship took a smattering of rain during their short trip around the ring. Having not lost a class since Louisville last year, Regal’s Norma Jean LF and Stephany Monteleone weren’t about to let a little rain get in the way of their streak. They topped this one to take the tri-color, driving off against the backdrop of a beautiful rainbow. It was second round of honor for Monteleone and Abel Vega on the night, and a unanimous one at that. Oliver Twist repeated his outstanding performance and finish from Lexington 2009, taking the Reserve Championship for Charlotte Wrather, directed by Janet Crampton.

Many times you will hear a judge say, "That one looked like he wanted to win," when discussing why he or she tied a specific horse. CH Sunken Treasure always looks like he wants to win. A little horse with the heart of a champion, Sunken Treasure was the unanimous choice of the judges as the Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited Pleasure Champion with Stephanie Brackett aboard for Steve, Peggy and Stephanie Brackett. Last year, it was Drew Taylor Hewitt making the Championship ride in this very same class on this very same horse. Stephanie has truly made huge strides with her stellar mount under the direction of Mary and Evan Orr. As announcer Mark Farrar said, "They found treasure at the end of the rainbow," as they rode off under that beautiful rainbow-filled sky. Ashley Bryce started off another big night for her with a Reserve Championship here with Callaway’s Dream Big for Bryce Heritage Investments. Jack Magill trains this one. They moved up a spot from their qualifier finish with a bigtime performance. Mojo, last year’s Reserve Champion, was third tonight Megan Bush Barrett riding under the direction of Peter and Kim Cowart. CH Callaway’s Where There’s A Will was fourth with Dominique Bowler for the Cater Stables banner.

Three times a winner in Freedom Hall, CH Stonewall’s Stargate and Stefanie Sanchez are now three time winners on The Red Mile as well. They topped the Adult Five-Gaited Pleasure Championship as the unanimous choice of the judges with a pleasure perfect performance for the West Wind banner. They took this very same victory pass in 2009, as they set themselves up for the homestretch of the run up to Louisville. CH Titleist Right Tonight and Ally Ehle were right on top of their game once again for Bob and Nancy Ehle and Team Kierson. They were Reserve Champions tonight, a spot up from their finish here last year and a repeat of their qualifier placing. This team is always a top contender no matter where they go, and they look ready to put on a show come August. Susan Orton was delighted with her third place finish with CH And I’m Stickin’ To It, while Martha Keck was having a blast aboard CH Full Spectrum in fourth place.

The undefeated Max Kaplan Comeback Tour continued, as he and Late Nite’s Basic Impact were the unanimous Champions under the Mike Roberts Stable banner. Undefeated in their eight outings together, Kaplan and Basic Impact were punched-up and stepping out as they moved down the rail. Winners of six classes on the year already, CH Heartland Victory Maker and Alex Ververeli were the Reserve Champions for Kathleen and Alex Ververeli and trainers Mike and Jessie Richardson. Victory Maker has a silky smooth way of going that suits this division well. The super cute factor got the crowd pumped up for third-place finisher Ricky Bobby with Madison Pope wearing her hot pink and green silks.

The Amateur Park Stake was up next, with the Junior Exhibitor section to follow. This division was split during the week, with the prize list calling for just a single Amateur division. CH His Supreme Reflection was a fairly successful harness horse in his younger days. In fact, Melissa Moore drove him to a Reserve World’s Championship as a two year old. However, when they put a rider aboard, it was all over. He won his first seven classes under saddle, then embarked on a 15-class streak after that. Twice the Amateur Park World’s Champion of Champions and once the Open world title holder, His Supreme Reflection once again teamed up with Jacqueline Manzo for Kimberly Jones and trainer Tom Sworm. He is always worth the price of admission. Another Open World’s Champion of Champions, Brookhill’s Periday hit the ring smokin’ hot tonight with James Sigmon riding under the Clouse Stables banner. He was a stone cold stunner as the Reserve Champion, repeating his finish from the qualifier. Reedann’s Heir To Glory was third with Brittany Kale for Gary and Tammie Kale to round out the repeat top three from the qualifier.

Just five came to the ring for the Junior Exhibitor Park Stake, a number that likely would have been bolstered by the class being in the prize list. It’s likely that several stayed home since they thought they would have to show against the adult riders. Storm Heir is owned by Mary Jane Frederickson’s 926 Park Lane LLC. Alex Lawson and Calee Dillon have been the jockeys aboard so far this year, with Dillon doing the honors tonight as the Champion. The DeLovely-trained entry was also the qualifier winner. Ashley Bryce picked up her second Reserve Championship of the night and second reserve finish of the week with Ya-Ya. An entry of Bryce Heritage Investments, the reigning Open World’s Champion was beautiful in bay once again for Jack Magill Stables and the talented young Ashley.

The fine as a deer Leatherwood’s All Smiles oozed "Ladies horse" on The Red Mile once again tonight, as Whitney Bennett made the Championship ride for Anne Holmes and Matt Shiflet Stables. When asked about her ride, Bennett declined to comment, as she said, "I’m pretty sure it’s a dream, and if I tell somebody about it, I might wake up!" It has certainly been a dream week for this delightful young lady. Beata Flatley-Lilja made one of her best rides to date with former over 15.2 open world’s champion Harlem’s Showman to earn the Reserve Championship in this nice class of 12, a big number for this division. Ali Judah finished third with Gossip Girl for Dr. Meg Knowles and Visser Stables, the same place she finished in the Over 2 qualifier.

For the third year in a row, Seamair Simply Awesome was the Amateur Hackney Pony Champion with John Wrather driving for Charlotte Wrather. All rocked back and strokin’ a big trot, Simply Awesome put on another top notch performance for the title. Heartland Flirtation and Mia Blevins Morris continued their new career in the cobtail division with a Reserve Championship drive for Georgia Blevins and trainer Matt Schuckert.

Evan Orr saved some of the fire and verve that Undulata’s Susan McGee always hits the show ring with for the second direction and closed out the Junior Three-Gaited Championship win in high style for Jack and Donna Finch. "I’m so happy for him," said Mary Orr. "He only gets to show a couple times a year, and I’m always the one telling him what he needs to do better," she concluded with a laugh. Susan McGee, however, is nothing to laugh at, by Undulata’s Nutcracker and out of a New York Times mare, she can get her head in a place that few can, especially while putting on a big-time park trot. The Junior Under 2 winner, Re-Energized, was the Reserve Champion for Virgil and Sandra Helm. Virgil is the only one to have ever shown this horse, so he was aboard for the UPHA Classic National Championship last season.

While the Five-Gaited and Three-Gaited divisions have 14-and-Under and 15-17 Championships this year, the Show Pleasure riders came into their 17-and-Under Stake with 19 entries expected. It takes a great effort to stand out in a class this size, and Rebecca Boorstein did it like it was her job here for the Lowry Stables-trained CH Stonecroft I’m Radiant. The 15-17 qualifier winner, I’m Radiant been nothing short of spectacular here in Lexington, putting on two outstanding shows for Equilateral Enterprise Inc. The 14-and-Under winner, CH Tax Man, was the Reserve Champion for Jessica Cloud. Wearing her sky blue coat, an appropriate color for Miss Cloud, Jessica rode hard in a pleasure perfect performance for Jack Magill Stables. Last year’s Champion, CH New York Style, was third with Ben Ferreby riding for John and Sandy Ferreby and trainer Marilyn Macfarlane. Little Ellie Kangur, one of the mighty mites of the group, was a strong fourth with Brookhill’s Kool As Ice for Tom and Mickey Kangur. The High Caliber crew gave her a loud and proud salute for her white ribbon.

The Amateur Roadster to Bike Championship in 2008 was the event in which Charlie Jones and Mr’s Bones threw down the gauntlet and declared their intentions to the National scene that they would be major league contenders for years to come. That night’s performance was a spectacular one, and tonight’s was no less so, as they were the unanimous Champions for Lukens Stables. The jumbotron showed a video after the class of Charlie being interviewed by the USEF’s He discussed his career with Bones and described how he was almost a rescue horse of sorts, a great story for a great team. The initial wonder was "Why is Bill Shatner wearing raingear when it isn’t raining anymore?" Once he lined up with Thunderbolt it became clear that he drives a horse that really likes to dig in and kick up dirt. Tonight it was a muddy base underneath the tanbark top layer, and Shatner was covered head to toe, including face, with mud, but he still looked like he was having a blast at the lines as the Reserve Champion for Belle Reve.

The Junior Five-Gaited Stake was another chance to shine for Marc Of Charm and Lionel Ferreira, as they made their best show of the season for a unanimous Championship victory. Lionel asked for more, and Marc Of Charm delivered and then some. A much more reserved hat toss this time than his flings at Lexington and Louisville last year, Lionel removed his hat and tossed it to his bride, Georgia Bulmer Ferreira, who of course in Monnington style just placed it right on her head at a slightly off-kilter, stylish angle. The Reserve Champion pressed the Champion every step of the way, as The King’s Redemption got a big ovation with Tre Lee for Bridget McNeese. Big, black, athletic and bold, King’s Redemption is fast moving with a quick turn of foot. He rocketed down the rail, earning the admiration of the crowd for a tremendous effort.

A young mare with all kinds of quality, Madison Brown was the Junior Fine Harness winner with Redd Crabtree driving for Burning Tree Farm. By Sir William Robert, she is out of a Cisitalia, a Junior Five-Gaited Mare Reserve World’s Champion and a full sister to R.R. Silver Lady, twice a World’s Champion in the Three-Gaited division. Another entry by Sir William Robert, HS Dignitary was reserve here with George Knight driving for breeder Hagan Saddlebreds Inc. Out of the great A Daydream Believer, Dignitary was a Three-Year-OId Fine Harness Stallion/Gelding World’s Champion last year.

The Wizard LF is a Tony kind of pony, as his last two main drivers have been Tony Wuesthofen and now Toni Nastali. The Wizard cast a magic spell on all three judges tonight, as he took the Amateur Roadster Pony Championship with Toni Nastali at the lines for the Majestic Oaks team. Reserve in the qualifier, they were back with a vengeance to take the tri-color. Always at or near the top of any class they enter, Heartland Sundust and Beth Jones were the Reserve Champions under the direction of Connie Smith. They were third in this class a year ago and fourth the year before that. They should probably consider showing again next year if this trend continues.

The Ladies Five-Gaited Championship was a barn burner and a great way to cap off the Friday night session. If you want to talk about announcing intent to be a top contender, Kris Knight did just that with (SA) Jonazell Mighty Spirit for Sam and Vicki Reed. In just his first year showing in the gaited ranks, Mighty Spirit has taken quickly to the division and really took it to the assembled group of 10 tonight. The slick bay star made perhaps his best show of the year to take the tri-color. Repeating the Ladies Gelding qualifier placings, A Different Story and Phyllis Brookshire were Reserve Champions for Don and Phyllis Brookshire. Showing out of Matt Shiflet Stables, this team got Friday Night Fun Night started off on a high note for the MSS crew. Pouring it on the second way of the ring, Most Definitely Diamonds and Ellyn Dorsey were third out of Strickland Stables, while CH Walterway’s Remember Me and Jennifer Dixon were fourth for John and Jacque Jarve.

Just the one day remains here at Junior League, and as always, the questions will circle around who will show back in the big stakes and who will be the biggest star under the season’s biggest spotlight to date. The Amateur Championships loom large on the horizon, literally, as all of the Amateur Three and Five-Gaited qualifiers were well-filled. We’ll bring you that coverage in the Lexington Junior League edition of the Saddle Horse Report.

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