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Lexington Junior League - Thursday Night

Thursday night came in a little bit hotter than the previous nights, but a cool breeze from the far end of the track quickly put the kibosh on that as the night progressed. Soon we will be talking about this "traditional" perfect weather here at Junior League. Tonight’s show opened with a reining demonstration by Shock Shake Shook and longtime pony exhibitor Anna Johnson. It’s always fun watching the flag wrap around Anna as her horse works through his spins and then fly out behind her as they tear down the track. Gifted Love and Inkspot kicked off the competition with a solo performance in the Commercial/Trade class for Brookside Farm, and the night continued from there, searching for that signature moment for this 73rd edition of Lexington Junior League.

Some horses were just born to do certain things. Tonight we saw one that was born to electrify a crowd. Put together with a rider who can really play to an audience, this was a match made in Junior League heaven. Marc Of Charm is a stallion son of the great Santana’s Charm and out of Pretty Ribbons. His second dam is Yorkshire Pudding, producer of top stallions Deep Blue, Castle Bravo, and Reedann’s Top Gun. She herself was a full sister to Harlem Globetrotter. This young stud comes with a complete resume. He was named for farrier Marc Gibson, who passed away about the time Marc Of Charm was born. He was the owner of Pretty Ribbons and is listed as the breeder of Marc Of Charm. A touch darker shade of chestnut, he mixes in a little bit of chocolate to his color, with the flash and sparkle of a lighter mane and tail. Over this offseason, Marc Of Charm spent time in England, where he bred five mares at Monnington Farm in Hereford, returning to the states in May. Lionel Ferreira has been with him all the while, and the partnership that they have formed is impressive.

Owned by Riverdreams LLC, Marc Of Charm rocked The Red Mile tonight, winning the Three-Year-Old Five-Gaited class in unanimous style. And "style" really is the way to describe anything Lionel does. Whatever word you want to use, flair, panache, élan… this guy has it. He has put his own flavor to this horse that was Two-Year-Old Fine Harness Champion here just a year ago for Tré Lee. After a much-discussed debut under saddle at Midwest Charity last month, the crowd was abuzz as they waited for him to hit the ring tonight. They didn’t have to wait long, as here he came down the track, rocked way back and reaching for the sky. The way he moves is not like anything we have seen in awhile. Big and long-strided, he is strong all the way around, snapping his hocks at the trot and going way above level, while still maintaining great forward momentum. Add to this the slightly wild look about him that just screams "stallion," and you have a remarkable horse. The talk of the night, and possibly the whole show, Marc Of Charm’s victory pass riled the crowd up and sent them off into the night. Already hatless from throwing his hat to the crowd as he headed to the winner’s circle (and it was a great toss, good distance and height), Ferreira took Marc Of Charm out to a standing ovation, almost like the wave at a sporting event. The crowd rose as he passed by them, and Ferreira saluted the upper grandstand with a point of his whip and a nod of his head as he rode down the infield rail. That, good readers, was a signature moment.

This was a big, talented, exciting class of three-year-olds. Tré Lee had Bridget McNeese’s Two-Year-Old Reserve World’s Champion, The King’s Redemption, looking the part of a contender in reserve. A black son of The King Of Highpoint, his second dam is the great Carol Lynn. He holds his head high and marches like we have become accustomed to seeing Tré Lee’s horses do. Undulata’s Christmas In New York was third for Jim Lowry and Kathy Scherer. A pretty bay colt, he is by Designed and out of the dam of Undulata’s Nutcracker, Christmas In New York ERB.

Always a favorite class on "young horse night," the Two-Year-Old Fine Harness class hit the ring with just four entries. Speaking of Undulata’s Nutcracker, this year’s winner was Double Or Nuttin, with Darrell Case driving for Willowbank Farm. Reserve at Rock Creek last month, Double Or Nuttin is out of Beat The Odds, the dam of Open and Amateur Park World’s Champion of Champions CH His Supreme Reflection. Big and bay, Double Or Nuttin put on a top show for Case tonight. Appropriately named with her blonde locks flowing in the sun, Park Avenue Diva drove to reserve for Carter Cox and Patricia Dozier. Bright and airy, this filly is by Callaway’s Guy Park and out of a full sister to CH French Silk Stockings. These were two nice young horses, both by top young stallions.

The Show Pleasure Driving Championship went to the lady in the light yellow, as Karrie Graham drove A Cinderella Story to the tri-color for Karrie Graham and husband Dwaine Kinderknecht. It was the perfect time of night for this team, as the sun was still on the track, making the well-turned-out mare shine and playing perfectly off of the light yellow and white outfit selected by tonight’s winning driver. Also of note were the two fingernails, one on each hand, that were decorated with blue and a "C" for Cinderella. These are the things that make a champion! Jim and Fay Lowry direct this delightful team. Unclaimed was once again reserve tonight for Jan Beardsley Blanco and the Fairfield South team. Always a fixture in the driving division for many years, Jan Beardsley Blanco has a special one in this Attache’s Liquid Asset gelding. Buena Vista and Kaye Bowles-Durnell received good crowd support in third under the direction of Ed Cockriel, while Finest Material and James Rosburg finished fourth.

Normally you would think that red and pink aren’t supposed to go together, but Hunter Chancellor has squashed that notion, as her hot pink coat has meshed well with The Red Mile this year. She picked up her second round of honor of the week with The Attache Orchid in the Three-Gaited Pony Stake. Tough to beat, this bright chestnut pony seems to always be on her game, marching down the rail for seasoned rider Hunter Chancellor. Drew Taylor Hewitt capped off her good day on the track with a reserve finish aboard Callaway’s Kiss & Tell for Lenwood Farms. This one is by Callaway’s Full Power and was the 14-17 Reserve World’s Champion just a year ago. Powerful Tango and Dominique Bowlen, reserve in the qualifier, were third tonight.

Thursday night also hosts the Limit pony classes. First of these was the cobtail class, with Geof Dixon directing Heartland Summer Storm to the winner’s circle for Betty and Warren Featherston. A shiny bay with four white socks, Summer Storm was the County Fair Reserve Champion at Louisville last year. He is by Dun-Haven Bandolier and out of a Dun-Haven Awesome Creation mare. Tom Lowry and Red Tide were reserve for Golden Creek Farms. Just a four-year-old, Red Tide was Reserve World’s Champion Three-Year-Old in 2008.

The Limit Road Pony class was the next of these events, with Josh Greer returning to a winner’s circle where he has spent plenty of time in the past. Tonight it was with Regal’s Lightning Strike LF, Junior Road Pony Reserve World’s Champion of Champions last season. Greer does all his own work at the horse shows now and trains his string of ponies on his own as well. He put together his best drive of the season with the Dun-Haven Regal Attraction son to earn the blue. Randy Harper and Extremely Rare, another former Junior Reserve World’s Champion of Champions, were reserve for Frickey Farms. Ronnie Graham and Heartland Pursuit, a current junior pony, were third for Helen Rosburg.

Limit Harness Pony was the final pony class of the night, as Dun-Haven Truly Awesome drove to the blue for Paul Richardson. Amateur Gentlemen World’s Champion and Amateur Reserve World’s Champion of Champions in 2008, Truly Awesome put on a show for the Lexington crowd. David Estis was reserve with his Romeo’s Cavalier LF under the direction of Matt Schuckert.

A big group of show pleasure horses came to the ring for the Over 35 section of their qualifier. Yes, the Show Pleasure qualifiers aren’t held until Thursday night, after the Country Pleasure division has already had their Championship. There are certain horses who just seem to make some of their best shows on The Red Mile. Tonight, Seaforth’s Heiristotle made his Red Mile debut and took to it instantly for Diane Nyhammer. With no shortage of things to look at, Heiristotle apparently picked one at the end of each straightaway and just put his ears forward and marched to the winner’s circle under the direction of Lisa Strickland. Just a five year old, he is by The King Of Highpoint. This is another star of tonight’s performance with Carol Lynn, his second dam, on the bottom line. Shawn Stachowski brought Santana’s Gypsy Gal out at Junior League in 2006, receiving a lot of attention. Tonight, she was back with the chestnut version. Rebecca Cash is by Doin’ Too Much, a grandson of The New York Times. She is out of a Caramac mare. Just like Gypsy Gal, this one rocks back and struts, earning the red ribbon tonight for Shawn and trainer/husband Jim Stachowski. CH Tax Man, no stranger to the Junior League winner’s circle, was third tonight for Peggy Councilman.

Wearing her signature white coat, Angela Darrow guided Freaky Links to the tri-color in the Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited Stake. A combined event between the 15-17 and 14-and-Under riders, only 10 riders chose to show back. Angela had Freaky rolling tonight to take their second trip down victory lane of the week. Scott Matton made the run to the winner’s circle, nearly beating Freaky Links there, as he got stuck in traffic on his way out of the pack. Mollie Kregor continued what would be a stellar day for her on The Red Mile with a top-notch catch ride aboard Rebel Rooster for Kathy Bagdasarian, earning the Reserve Championship. Third in the younger age group, Mollie came back tonight to face off with the older kids and hung right with them. Stonecroft Rumor Has It and Alexa McWilliams were third, coming off their Shelby County wins and making a much better show tonight. CH What’s The Whoopla and Caitlin Leith finished up in fourth.

With just two classes to completely change outfits and horses, Mollie Kregor was back in the 14-and-Under Three-Gaited Stake to take the tri-color aboard Gloria Vanderbilt for Wrapped In Rainbows Farm and Ashlyn Farms. This is a gorgeous bay mare that can really hook up and look through the bridle. Mollie picked up her second win of the day (she had won in pleasure pony in the morning session with Callisto) to go along with her Reserve Championship three classes prior. A favorite of everyone who meets her, Mollie is always smiling and always just seems happy to be at the horse show. CH Yes It’s True and Karly Morgan put on a stellar display for Fred and Pam Morgan, taking the Reserve Championship under the direction of Smith Lilly. This longtime star can still tuck his chin and march with the best.

If you want to look really smart, suggest Emily Abbott as a catch rider. It was Abbott’s third show aboard The Muffin Man, first since their Reserve Championship here a year ago. Tonight’s performance was absolutely textbook Red Mile. Hang back in the corners and fire down the straightway off the rail, let your horse look at those terrace boxes at each end while still keeping his attention, she did all that and more to earn the blue tonight for Kim Langdon and trainer Mike McIntosh. An up and coming star by Deep Blue, Imagine My Surprise was reserve tonight with Ashley Wilson riding for Steven Chancellor. Miss Ashley has come a long way from her days in walk and trot aboard The Count, and it is great to have her back in the show ring. Imagine My Surprise is bold and bay and comes from that power-packed school of show pleasure horses, a style that never fails to attract the attention of the center ring denizens. CH Breathe returned to the track that made him a household name in 2003 to place third, once again with Alexa Noble at the helm under the direction of Jack Noble.

Sir William Robert made his presence felt in the Three-Year-Old Fine Harness class, with his offspring finishing first and third. George Knight had the top finisher in this one, making a unanimous drive down to the winner’s circle with HS Dignitary for Hagan Saddlebreds. By Sir William Robert and out of the Hagans grand mare, A Daydream Believer, Dignitary is a colt that exudes grace and beauty in the show ring. He lit up the show ring once again tonight to earn the top spot. When your mama’s a fine harness world’s champion, you’re going to look like a harness horse, or so it seems to be the case with Hillcroft Rare Fortune, an entry of Bill Beckley shown tonight by Smith Lilly. A big and bold chestnut colt, Rare Fortune is by Lakeview’s Rare-A-Phi, shown by Misdee Wrigley in the stud stake just last night. Rare Fortune is out of the grand harness mare, Fortune, three times a World’s Champion in Fine Harness competition. Third in the class was Roberta Belle, a daughter of Sir William Robert and Kathy Capsuto Walker’s longtime driving partner, CH Dancing Up A Storm LCC. Kathy was at the lines tonight. All three of these horses are out of mares that had great success in Fine Harness, all three having won in the division in Freedom Hall.

The Coaching Four In Hand class was dedicated to Dinwiddie Lampton Jr., long a fixture of the carriage world and always a crowd favorite here at Junior League. A trophy was presented in memory of him for the first time tonight. Marilyn Macfarlane’s park drag had the honor of being the first recipient of this grand memorial trophy. Riding along with Macfarlane and her team of Friesians on her Brewster park drag were six people and one dog. One of these passengers was David Freedman. It was appropriate for him to be in the ring, as all three teams were wearing Freedman harness. The two Miller entries were second and third. Misdee Wrigley Miller had her team of Dutch Harness Horses in top form in reserve with her Holland and Holland park drag, while her husband, James, drove the team of Gelderlanders from atop the Shanks and Co. road coach in third.

In a class that stopped and started more times than a NASCAR race, three caution flags flew in the Five-Gaited Pony Stake, as two different horses cast shoes. Tyler Devore and Our Sonflower were the unlucky entry that threw their shoe a second time, having to take the gate. Through all the ups and downs of the momentum of this class, Billy Jewel and Caroline Rose kept it all together for Clara McCool and the Cater Stables team to take the tri-color. They were qualifier winners earlier this week. I Believe I Can Fly and Sarah Martin were the other team that avoided the farrier in this one, finishing as the Reserve Champions under the direction of Cash Lovell.

Novice Roadster to Bike saw Talladega Nights race off with the blue with Melinda Moore serving as the "Ricky Bobby." (Pop culture reference: Ricky Bobby was the main character in the Will Ferrell movie "Talladega Nights"). Ninety Proof and Deborah Koning were reserve for David Crockett.

Robin McKenzie Vuillermet was certainly pleased with the outcome of the Three-Year-Old Three-Gaited class, as her two entries topped the class. Winning the class was the much-discussed and undefeated Real Action. Tom Scott brought the house down with this star at the Royal last year, and Peter Cowart has him working in good form for the McKenzie and Plunkett ownership team. It was a unanimous victory for the son of Desert’s Supreme Memories out of a Callaway’s Blue Norther mare. Also a Vuillermet-owned horse, Zagnut was reserve in this one for Smith Lilly. A product of the UPHA Classic Incentive Sale’s inclusion of two-year-olds for the first time last year, Zagnut wowed the crowd there and did it once again tonight to pick up the red ribbon. This one is by Undulata’s Nutcracker and out of With Memories, the dam of Show Baby Show. HS Daydream’s Believe In Me, a full brother to three-year-old harness winner HS Dignitary, was third. He was a two-year-old world’s champion last year, still showing for Walden Bullard and Hagan Saddlebreds. Prom Dress and Ceil Wheeler were a strong fourth under the direction of John Conatser.

Ashland once again roared down victory lane as the Roadster to Wagon Champion with Mike Barlow at the lines. So comfortable is this team in the show ring, Barlow was able to reach up and adjust his hat while flying down the rail at speed. No problem, all in a day’s work for this grand champion mare. Man’s Man and Les Cunningham were Reserve Champions for Milward Dedman.

Stan Bodnar had one heck of a day in the Lexington area today. Tonight he drove the Majestic Oaks-trained Shelburne to the Hackney Horse Championship for Bent Tree Farm, edging out his dam, Heartland Blizzard, with Karen Waldron. But it was his daytime activity that might have been the most special. As previously written in the Saddle Horse Report, Stan and Mark Bodnar were the ones who volunteered to drive through the night to take Bono to Rood and Riddle the night he fractured his ankle while walking after his Amateur Ladies Five-Gaited Championship at Midwest Charity in June of 2007. With a splint on his leg put together by Dr. Hank Clemmons and riding in the Crumpler Stables trailer, Bono made it through the ordeal and is now back in top form, thanks in large part to the efforts of Stan and Mark Bodnar. When offered his reward, a ride on the grand gaited horse, Stan was absolutely thrilled to accept, heading out to Grey Ridge Farm this morning to ride what his selflessness helped to preserve.

We’ve hit the homestretch of Lexington Junior League. Thanks for the positive vibes that have kept the weather conditions somewhere between exquisite and blissful.

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