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Lexington Junior League - Monday Night

Sultry. That would be how a Southern Belle would have described tonight. They are polite and prim and proper and would use such a lovely word. Another good term would have been “hotter’n blazes!” The proper terminology would have been “oppressively hot” to describe a sweltering night on the Red Mile. It was a night where the decision was rightly made to allow riders to opt out of wearing coats until dusk, though few chose to do so. We were due for this type of week at Junior League. None can honestly say that the past few years have been typical for Junior League. There was a night last year that could have legitimately been called “cool!” This is the Kentucky summer that denizens of the Bluegrass have come to know and… we hesitate to say “Love.” But it is still Lexington Junior League, the first jewel of the Saddlebred Triple Crown, and they came out in droves to show once again.

It was a night of horse show where it seemed like everything that could go wrong was going to. Timeouts on top of timeouts hurt the flow of the session, while an early evening sound problem gave way to a full on power outage in the grandstand later in the night. While show manager Kent Moeller has been involved with the Junior League show for some time now, this is his first year as manager, serving as Technical Coordinator in years passed. He and his team of Deweys (Huckaby and Bass) were all over the grounds tonight solving problems and fixing issues. There is no team better equipped to handle a night like tonight. Handle it they did, and the show went on!

The first Lexington blue of 2011 went to the 13-and-Under Three-Gaited winner, Mesmerizing. Allison Gann came ready for the party, battling the heat waves and a field of good ones to win the class, under the direction of Neil Visser. Visser has done a remarkable job with this team. They won their debut at Asheville and have been in the top three in every class they have entered, showing at three of the most competitive shows in the country. Their first pass tonight sent them to the top of the cards early. Three times a World’s Champion in harness, HS Dignitary teamed with Courtney McGinnis for reserve for Fish Creek Stables and DeLovely Farm. Dignitary and Mesmerizing are building a bit of a rivalry, having shown against each other in every class they have entered this season. Dignitary took the championship honors at Asheville and Midwest. Molly Codeanne made an assertive ride in third with Callaway’s Born With Style, to the delight of mom Kate and the Cater Stables team.

Ali DeGray started her week out right with the Country Pleasure Driving blue behind Harlem’s Worldly Lady. Owned by Helen and James Rosburg, Worldly Lady was the reserve champion here a year ago, going on to take a qualifier blue in Freedom Hall the following month. Ali was her usual well-turned-out self at the lines, wearing yellow and white with a fancy, white, summery hat. Ann Fitzpatrick continued her strong season with Night Sight, as Nelson Green directed the Rigby’s Green entry to reserve honors. They debuted with two wins at Southeastern last year, and have since gone on to claim tri-colors at River Ridge and Rock Creek. 2010 Champion Stevie Nicks and Pat Yeatts were third for Cherry Stone Farm.

The Amateur Hackney Pony class was a knockdown dragout affair between two of the very best cob-tails to set foot in a show ring. Both came from the increasingly popular gate at the far end of the show ring, as Janet Crampton trained the winner and Larry Ella had the reserve pony. John Wrather and Seamair Simply Awesome turned in yet another grand show for Charlotte Wrather. It has now been four years in a row for Simply Awesome to have won the amateur qualifier here. This team will be trying for a fourth consecutive Amateur World’s Championship when they hit the green shavings. On The Mark made a very impressive show in second for Karen Waldron and Bent Tree Farm. On The Mark has been getting it done for what seems like forever now, and he just continues to sparkle and shine. The 2008 World’s Grand Champion and current Amateur Reserve World’s Champion of Champions lived up to his name again tonight.

It was the young gents who topped the Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited 14-17 class, a competitive affair with 13 scheduled to show. The two lone boy riders wound up first and second in this one, with Tyler DeVore taking the last lap aboard Thunderstorm Warning. Always a crowd pleaser with mom Tammy aboard, Thunderstorm Warning lit up this hot night with Tyler, much to the delight of his fan club. They have started out the season in scintillating fashion, finishing no lower than second in five outings. Tammy DeVore was all smiles as she headed up the victory pass. Winner of this class a year ago, Fight Night was reserve here with Andrew Slater up for Pamela Slater and Kalarama. The reigning world’s champion of champions was high in the bridle in the heat and humidity for the red ribbon. Following the two lads were two of the best young lady catch riders anywhere, Drew Taylor Hewitt and Mollie Kregor. Drew Taylor piloted Callaway’s Eight Below to third for Bullet Concrete Materials and Clouse Stables, while Mollie had Rebel Rooster up for fourth for Kathy Bagdasarian and Diamond View Farm. The ever-inspiring Frances Neunuebel was turning heads aboard Manhattan Whirlwind, leaving with the pink ribbon.

Any list of the best Roadster Under Saddle horses would have to include Where Are We Now, winner of the amateur class tonight. Dr. Brian Garrett is now in his fourth season with this wonderful horse. Mike Brannon directed them down victory lane for this their third straight win in this event. They will also be in search of three-peats in Freedom Hall as they are twice-defending titleholders in Amateur Under Saddle and the Roadster Under Saddle World’s Championship. Justin Cowley made the red ribbon ride aboard Zulu for Helen and James Rosburg. It was Justin’s debut in the Roadster division, guiding the jet black horse to the reserve prize.

The always entertaining Amateur Three-Gaited 15.2-and-Under did not disappoint, as Tia Margarita headed down victory lane with Linda Bowen riding for Johnny and Linda Bowen. Lionel Ferreira directs this new team. They made their debut at Bonnie Blue and have since put it all together, winning this same class at Rock Creek and now here on the Red Mile. Tia Margarita is by Blue O’Shea, the sire of CH Juliette’s Deja Blue. The chestnut mare is out of Callaway’s Kismet, by CH Sky Watch. Size Me Up finished in reserve with Deborah Visser aboard for James Orr. The Premier Stables-trained team is fresh off their wins at Shelby County Fair. A year ago, they made their Louisville breakthrough, winning the Amateur Ladies Under 2. Size Me Up is by Tornaado and out of an almost lock for the Broodmare Hall of Fame, Annie Up, by CH Heir To Champagne. Misdee Wrigley Miller returned from abroad to pick up third with Hillcroft Claret. She has been in Europe this summer taking part in the highest levels of combined driving competition. Stacey Kipper and the punched up Ribbons And Reins were fourth for Sondra Kipper.

Another phenomenal group of ponies showed up for the Ladies Harness Pony class, with Last Call and Mary Gaylord McClean taking the top honors back to Golden Creek Farms. They put on one of their best shows to best this field. Four-Year-Old Harness Pony World’s Champion Major Impact was reserve with Karen Frickey driving under the direction of Randy and Denessa Harper. Last year’s winner, Regal’s Norma Jean LF, was third with Stephany Monteleone, directed by Abel Vega.

Smith Lilly has another young star on his hands in Pass With Care. An entry of Janet Sterba, this reddish chestnut gelding with a white stripe topped the Junior Five-Gaited Stallion/Gelding class tonight. Sired by Desert’s Supreme Memories, Pass With Care is out of Kalarama’s My Heart, by Harlem Globetrotter. Obviously bred to rack, he did just that on the Red Mile tonight in that long evening sun. No matter what horse he is on, one look at Jack Magill on a horse and you know he is giving it all he has to take the top spot. He came up just shy tonight with Finest Hour Spent for Kenneth and Carol Bryce, finishing with the red ribbon. By I’m A New Yorker, Finest Hour Spent is out of A Tad Finer, by Star Material. Sam Stafford and Callaway’s I’ll Stand By You were third for Hillcroft Farm, with Kalarama’s Delightful and Peter Cowart making a strong show in fourth for Karen McClure.

Steel The Moment and Linda Beltz made their finest performance yet to top an absolutely loaded Ladies Fine Harness class. Nelson Green trains this entry of Dr. and Mrs. Homer Beltz at Blue Willow Farm. This team has been spectacular all year, winning all but one of their classes in 2011. Bred and owned by the Beltz family, Steel The Moment began his show ring career by finishing in the money in the All American Cup. You can learn more about him in our interview with Linda Beltz on ReporTV. Follow The Sun has made the transition to the harness division with ease in 2011, having won his debut with Annika Bruggeworth at Syracuse. The black horse driven by the lady in black and white were spectacular tonight to take reserve. Jerry Hutson directs this team at Siren Song Stables.

Todd Graham continued his impressive campaign with Callaway’s Dancing In The Dark, taking the Junior Three-Gaited 15.2-and-Under blue for Emma Nichols. Graham and Dancing In The Dark have gone undefeated since their UPHA Classic Reserve National Championship at the Royal last year. They topped classes at River Ridge and Indianapolis Charity and won yet again here tonight. Dancing In the Dark is by Nureyev and out of Callaway’s Born Blessed, by CH Callaway’s Born To Win. Jim Stachowski debuted the extremely gifted Aurora’s Annie in this one, taking reserve honors for Shawn Stachowski. Aurora’s Annie is by the young stallion Callaway’s Northern Kiss, a son of Callaway’s Blue Norther out of a Caramac mare. Darrell Case had last year’s Three-Gaited Futurity World’s Champion, the jet black Thunderstar, up for third tonight for Judith Swartz.

The partnership of Larry Bacon and Arthur and Gaye Birtcher has been a long and storied one, encompassing many a World’s Champion. They have another good one in the unanimous Limit Hackney Pony winner, Be My Cover Girl. Bacon was in the viceroy again tonight, as he was to take the Hackney Pony Reserve National Championship at the Royal last year. Heartland Whirlwind and Darrel Kolkman were reserve for the Heartland Hackney Farm. Whirlwind is in her first season showing, as she is just a three-year-old. She is by Heartland Equality and out of a Dun-Haven Bandolier mare.

Lynn Williams and Mary Gaylord McClean bested the heat and bested a field of nice mares to take a unanimous victory in the Ladies Five-Gaited Mare class. Since their dual triumphs in Freedom Hall last year, this team has gone unbeaten. They were on fire tonight, with not even a hint of weather-induced sluggishness. Rob Byers puts this team in the ring, and they take over from there. The reigning Ladies Five-Gaited World’s Champion of Champions is of course a home-bred product of the Golden Creek breeding program. She is by CH Top Spool and out of the great Carol Lynn. Most people have to go in search of their World’s Championship contenders, Mary just breeds them for herself to show! While Lynn Williams was the 2007 ASR Five-Gaited Futurity World’s Champion, the 2006 Futurity World’s Champion finished reserve tonight. This was CH Callaway’s Born For This. Allison Combs once again turned in a good showing for Mr. and Mrs. Jimmie Shires and the Mercer Springs team. The gray mare by CH Callaway’s Born To Win was the winner of this class just last year. They of course went on to famously claim the Amateur Ladies World’s Championship the following month. Phyllis Brookshire and Bi-Mi’s Southern Rose rounded out the top three in this competitive class under the direction of Matt Shiflet.

The Roadster to Wagon class was about the part in the night where the wheels started to come off the performance. The entries in the class turned in equally fantastic performances, so much so that the three-entry class came down to a three-way true tie! The class had to basically be run all over again! Back to the rail they went, with Judy McNeish pulling out all the stops in her first drive behind Ice Man for DeLovely Farm. They took home the blue prize, with Raymond Shively showing the way down victory lane. Matt T Tup and David Crockett earned reserve honors. They were reserve champions here in 2010. 

The next event was the 13-and-Under Five-Gaited class, and all was going along swimmingly. That was until the power to the grandstand went kaput! Thankfully the flood lights are on a different power grid, so that was never an issue. The problem was that all the speakers were now dead, as the young riders continued on around the ring. Ringmaster John Franzreb took to calling out the gaits in his big, booming voice, while those along the rail tried their best to help the four young girls. Peter Doubleday came out of his announcer’s booth to call out the prizes, and for those not right down at that end, it seemed like a dog show judge calling out the winners, where they just point at the one that gets the top prize. The winner here was another three-peat, CH Sprinkles with Eleanor Rainbolt Forbes. From the always fun to say Rainbow Princess Farms, Sprinkles and Eleanor took the blue back to DeLovely. They have been unstoppable as of late, having been bested once in the past two seasons, and that against the older competition at Midwest. They took it to the big kids at the Royal, winning the Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited National Championship. Sierra Madison Comer was delighted with her reserve win aboard CH Already Famous. This phenomenal show ring veteran by CH Heir To Champagne has been loving the life of a show horse for a long time now, and he turned in a great show under the tutelage of Jane Jarvis.

After a Scott Snider ring drag, the Limit Road Pony class was set to go, though the sound had not yet come back. Once all 10 of the ponies had been gathered in the ring and were jogging first way, the sound system kicked back in, leading to a bit of confusion as Peter Doubleday and John Franzreb sorted out their communication and got everything back online. What followed was a class filled with timeouts that went up and down from jog to road gait back to jog then back to road gait first direction, then went all the way up to speed second way before a timeout was called that required attention from the farrier. Rather than just lining the class up, more work at speed was called for, so the ponies stood while the shoe was replaced, then worked all the way back up through their gears. Those ponies will sleep well tonight, but only one gets to have blue ribbon memories. Tonight, that was Heartland Smooth Operator. Donna Whatley survived the Road Pony marathon under the direction of Majestic Oaks. Smooth Operator is enjoying his first season as a road pony, winning at every show he has attended. Tom Lowry drove Regal’s Wild Card LF to the red ribbon for Golden Creek Farms. Wild Card is by Dun-Haven Regal Attraction and out of Romeo’s Keepsake LF.

The Ladies Three-Gaited Over 15.2 saw Callaway’s Campaign Manager strut and march his way to the blue ribbon with Lisa Strickland aboard for Kate Baumann. Incredibly long-necked, Campaign Manager looked down those long straightaways and got to marching. Glenn T. Werry, a good friend of the Strickland Stables team, ran in to head up the round of honor. Showing in the ladies division here on the Red Mile for the first time, CH Juliette’s Deja Blue and Andrea Athanasuleas finished second. The Matt Shiflet-trained team blasted onto the scene here in 2008 with two wins and followed that up with two more in 2009. They finished up as Amateur Three-Gaited Champions here a year ago as well. Tami Reiser was third aboard Windgate’s Lady Lorraine for Ray Blanton, while I’m Custom Designed was fourth with Meredithe Steinhauer. Incidentally, this class had its share of timeouts as well, as one entry had thrown a shoe in the paddock and came into the ring to have it replaced. It came off again after a valiant effort by farrier Travis Herlocker, and the entry wound up taking the gate.

The Five-Gaited Gelding Stake was a much-anticipated event, as Courageous Lord was set to follow the same path he took to Freedom Hall a year ago. He did not disappoint, taking a unanimous victory for Bill Carrington and Marsha Shepard. Merrill Murray did a masterful job once again, getting the most he could out of his two-time World’s Grand Champion despite the oppressive heat and humidity. They left the ring last for the third straight year in the Gelding Stake, however this time they left with a reserve tri-color! A ribbon snafu sent the reserve prize to the winner’s circle and the top prize out with reserve winners Bravo Blue and Rob Byers! Byers and Bravo Blue had moments where they looked quite deserving of many a tri-color for B & T Vonderschmitt LLC. Bravo Blue has been a crowd pleaser all his life, with his remarkably high head carriage and show horse attitude. Mike Spencer had the powerfully built Yippeekiyokiyey up for third for Minna Hankin.

The crowd went off into the slightly cooler night after that, with a 9 a.m. start time looming large and hot on the Tuesday morning horizon. 

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