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Lexington Junior League - Monday Evening

It’s one of the oldest and grandest traditions we have. The challenges of the Red Mile have drawn exhibitors to Lexington Junior League for 72 years now and while some of the elements have evolved over the years it’s still a battle of who can get up and down the long straightaways the best. This opening night proved to be a fairly healthy indicator for the industry as champions were crowned representing training barns from Oklahoma, New Hampshire, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, West Virginia, Louisiana, and Wisconsin in addition to the Kentucky contingent.

At 7:00 p.m. the gates opened for the first event of the night and that Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited 14 & Under blue returned to Oklahoma for the second consecutive year with Katie Cunningham. Taking two of the three first place votes, Cunningham rode world’s champion That’s Chicago down victory lane under the direction of Randy Cates.

“That was so much fun,” said Cunningham. “He loves showing on this track and it felt like we had a really good go tonight.”

Cunningham and That’s Chicago had their work cut out for them as Tyler Miles rode Harley Rally to the reserve honors for James Orr and Kalarama Farm. One of the first place votes belonged to third place finisher Show Baby Show who had lots of expression for Christina Collis.

There was a very light turnout for the Country Pleasure Driving class but that didn’t stop John Scheidt and Stonecroft Tangueray from being on top of their game for a unanimous decision. The Jim and Jenny Taylor trained team was followed in the ribbons by Harlem’s Worldly Lady and Helen Rosburg.

Five country pleasure driving horses were followed by four amateur cob-tails. At the top of Jim Cherry’s, Ricky Harris’ and Rick Wallen’s cards was number 236, the athletic Seamair Simply Awesome, an entry shown by John Wrather under the direction of Janet Crampton-Herd. Just a few weeks ago they captured the cob-tail stake at Chattanooga/Cleveland Charity. Coming off the amateur championship at Midwest Charity, Heartland Elise was the reserve winner with Jeff McClean at the whip.

A strong group of junior exhibitor 15-17 gaited horses and their jockeys went head to head in class four, many of them seasoned champions from their respective parts of the country. When the cards were turned in Randy Cates’ Cross Creek Stables had won its second blue of the evening. Tried and true at all five gaits CH Callaway’s Independence Day continues to do his job without a bobble as Victoria McCune gave him another flawless ride. They turned back a host of worthy challengers including reserve champions Angela Darrow and Freaky Links who always make an exciting show under the Knollwood Farm banner. Third place finishers Memorize and Sarah Sessoms collected one of the first place votes.

Having placed reserve last year, Dr. Holly Ackerman and Vivacious poured it on to take the Amateur Roadster Under Saddle blue back to Mark and Mary Lou Greenwell’s Break-Away Farm. Hustle Hector and Shane Sallee earned the red streamers on this beautiful Monday evening.

There was an all-star lineup on hand for the Amateur Three-Gaited 15.2 and Under Stake. Starring as Devon’s Amateur Three-Gaited Grand Champions just a month ago, Callaway’s Born With Style and Robin McKenzie-Vuillermet enjoyed a Red Mile victory pass. Smith Lilly trains the CH Callaway’s Born To Win entry. A product of the golden cross (Merchant Prince x Denmark’s Society), The Great Gaspar and Phillipa Sledge marched to the reserve title having just won the amateur championship at Germantown a few weeks ago. Midwest Charity Amateur Ladies Three-Gaited Grand Champion Hollywood Agent (Exalted Effect x CH Hollywood Excellence) earned a first place vote on his way to third place honors with Ali Judah.

Bringing down the house at Lexington last year, Dun-Haven Phenomenal was back at it again pumping his legs like there was no tomorrow. Maureen Lydon provided the unanimous winning drive for Carl and Kathryn Nichols. Kay Marschel’s talented Heartland Look At Me garnered the reserve prize.

A very talented eight-horse Junior Five-Gaited Stallion/Gelding Stake hit the ring next and there were several entries making a bid for the top prize. In fact, all three judges had a different winner on top of their card but it was Melissa Moore taking the blue with a 1-2-2 aboard last year’s UPHA Three-Year-Old Five-Gaited Classic Reserve Grand Champion Callaway’s Carnival In Rio (Callaway’s Blue Norther x Callaway’s Carnival Queen). Sally Jackson owns the winning entry. With a 1-2-3, Peter Cowart and It’s Saturday Night Live were reserve champions for Beth Arndt. Mike Tunstall and He’s A Big Wheel also had a first place vote to finish in third.

Before the next class, the show took time out to honor Dr. Alan Raun with the American Hackney Horse Society Lifetime Achievement Award. The crowd gave Dr. Raun, a longtime Lexington exhibitor, a standing ovation.

The chatter regarding the recent amateur harness class at Midwest Charity being on of the all-time greats has still been going around and a few of those participants were on hand for Lexington’s Ladies Fine Harness class. Moving up with a big-time performance, Mary Gaylord McClean and Cherished King proved to be the champion on this evening taking two of the three first place votes. The former Two-Year-Old Three-Gaited World’s Champion was greeted in the winner’s circle by trainer Melissa Moore. Winner of Best Of Show at Midwest Charity, the park-trotting Lady Vol received the reserve prize with Chris Kaplan in the buggy. A 2007 Ladies Fine Harness Reserve World’s Champion, Night Sight was third in this deep class with Lynn McNamara driving from Blythewood Farm.

A Lexington quality Ladies Fine Harness class was followed by a Lexington quality eight-horse Junior Three-Gaited 15.2 & Under class. Neil Visser debuted Ro & Me’s Kiss and Tell for James Orr to take a unanimous decision. Looking like a classic Carter Cox walk-trot horse, the newly trimmed Simbara’s Heir Fair was the reserve champion for owner Tim Shea.

Golden Creek Farms won its second blue of the evening when Abel Vega set sail with Regal’s Prophet LF to capture the highly competitive UPHA Road Pony Classic. They commanded two of the three top votes. Cash Lovell presented Heartland Curtain Call to receive reserve honors for Lindsey Jones. The remaining first place vote went to third place finishers Heartland Summer Heat and Devon Garone for Caroline Morrison.

Seven topnotch ladies gaited mares racked and trotted up a storm to entertain a good size Monday evening audience. Catch riding the 2007 Junior Five-Gaited World’s Champion of Champions Callaway’s Born For This (Callaway’s Blue Norther x Bekon The Day), Deborah Visser looked like the veteran she is riding the grand gray mare to the Lexington blue for Stonecroft Farm and trainer Nelson Green. Showing for Three Gables LLC, Kris Knight grabbed one of the first place votes with Shez So Delightful to earn reserve honors ahead of third place finisher Ava Gardner, ridden by Tammy DeVore.

It’s hard to remember when someone other than Ashland won Lexington’s Open Roadster To Wagon class and she did it for the sixth consecutive year with Mike Barlow driving for Dr. Howard Six. James Rosburg and Humdinger provided the reserve competition this year.

What a year it has been for the New Hampshire team of Alexis Pearson and Naughty. Having won six of six classes before heading to Lexington, the Jess Verrill trained team added Lexington’s Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited 14 & Under title to their outstanding season with a unanimous decision. The always-charging Suki Snowlet was unanimous in reserve with Callee Dillon in the irons. Jack Magill trains this Texas team.

The elegance and tradition of the Hackney Pony Gig class remained alive with Luc Boileau driving Spiff and Polish to the winner’s circle under the direction of Ed Murray. Barbara Gaynor showed Johnny to a reserve finish.

A standout in the junior three-gaited division at Lexington last year with Chris Reiser, Angel Innocence was this year’s Ladies Three-Gaited Over 15.2 Champion with Laura Dozer in the irons. The James Nichols trained team earned two of the three first place votes. In her first season as an amateur, Ali DeGray guided Wee Pee’s Storm to reserve honors.

The evening came to a close with class 17, the 17-horse Five-Gaited Gelding Stake. It was a battle of some of the industry’s top professionals aboard a mix of different type horses. It was a really varied class with no one just making a spectacular show at all five gaits. There were plenty of strong passes but the majority were not consistent.

When they lined up the judges conferred and kept 10 of the 17 for a second look. The audience moved to the edge of their seats to see who would come through and take this hard fought Lexington title. Following round two, announcer Peter Doubleday called Peter Cowart and the ground covering white-legged gelding CH Breaking News to the winner’s circle for proud owners Megan McClure and Beth Arndt. Reserve honors went the way of Kris Knight and the bold trotting Feel The Thunder, an entry owned by Sam and Vicki Reed. The crowd cheered all of the ribbon winners showing appreciation for this deep class. Those ribbon winners included Courageous Lord, CH Memories Paragon, Shame On You, Bravo Blue, He’s The Man, and Thunder Crackin.

It was a great way to end the evening as you would be hard pressed to find a stronger gelding stake anywhere.

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