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Lexington Junior League - Tuesday Night

While the Tuesday morning session ended in sunshine, the rains came on strong all afternoon long, pounding downtown Lexington with an impressive deluge. Kent Moeller and crew worked hard throughout and got the track in fantastic shape by the scheduled 6:30 start time. There was still one last storm front rolling through the area, so the show was moved back a half hour to 7 p.m. The opening ceremonies went on as planned though, with the Braveheart Therapeutic Riding and Education Center providing a drill team that opened up the session. Bravehearts is home to the Horses for Heroes program that provides therapeutic riding for wounded military veterans and their families.

By 7 o’clock, the storm front had moved through without dropping too many raindrops on the track, the rail along the grandstand side had just a slight bit of standing water in the trough that they had dug to drain that side of the ring. It was more of a creek than the Red Mile River that we have seen in years past. The first half of the session was spent in what was more of an annoying spritzing of rain with a few minutes of actual drizzle. That was when the judges went for the baseball caps that had been supplied by the show’s friends at Dabora, Inc. with the Saddle Horse Report logo on the front and Horse World and World Champion Horse Equipment proudly displayed atop the heads of Dick Obenauf, Nancy Becker, Gary Garone, and learner judge David Earehart. By the end of the night, people could be heard saying they were downright chilly! By the end of last night’s session, people had forgotten what chilly had ever felt like, as if it only existed in a dream world.

Kenny Wheeler was the man at the helm tonight, as he delighted the crowd and the judges on two different occasions. First up for Kenny was the Amateur Fine Harness class, where he got the attendees pumped up despite the persistent drizzle with a highlining drive behind Caraway’s New York Minute. Junior Fine Harness winner at the Royal last year with trainer Smith Lilly driving, New York Minute is by I’m A New Yorker and out of Caraway, a world’s champion in the walk-trot ranks. New York Minute isn’t ever going to be the biggest horse in the class, but he sure thinks he is something special. He waved his legs and never backed an ear to earn the unanimous victory. It was here a year ago that James Miller made his breakout performance with Heir’s Treasure, topping both amateur classes here on the way to two trips down victory lane in Freedom Hall. Tonight this Kalarama-trained team came in a strong reserve for Hillcroft Farm. The lone lady driver in this field of five, Sally Jackson finished third with Hi On Heir.

It was a three-class turnaround and Wheeler was back for more. Kenny has shown just a couple times in the roadster division in the last five years since notching a reserve championship here with Gambler in 2006. This week he got an offer he couldn’t refuse. Charlie Jones was here earlier in the week, but when the news came that his sweetheart Jan Lukens would have to have surgery on her leg which she injured at Syracuase two weeks ago, Charlie headed on home to New York. But who would get the call to drive his favorite horse, Mr’s Bones? Why not Kenny? It was a great call indeed, as Mr’s Bones ran his winning streak on this track to six straight amateur blues. Wheeler was having the time of his life, working the difficult Red Mile track like an old pro. Smith Lilly came in to head up his second victory pass of the night. William Shatner and Thunderbolt made another phenomenal drive on this track to take reserve in this class for the second straight year. Directed by Raymond Shively, Shatner picked up the red ribbon, prepared for the muddy track with as much rain gear as he could muster. Tom Fiedler and Valparaiso are a team that always sits right on the cusp in these deep classes, breaking through with fantastic drives, especially in Freedom Hall, where they have earned a reserve prize each of the last three years, including the Reserve World’s Grand Championship in 2008. They drive for the Lowry Stables banner.

Another big winner on the night was Theresa Vonderschmitt. Though she didn’t have one to show tonight, her trainers Rob and Sarah Byers did a wonderful job for her, leaving her delighted with two Lexington blues. First of these came in the Ladies Three-Gaited 15.2-and-Under, where Sarah Byers continued her undefeated streak with Mr. Center Stage, taking a unanimous trip down victory lane. They are four for four on the year, winning twice at Asheville and taking the Three-Gaited Jackpot Stake at Rock Creek. They threw down the gauntlet tonight, announcing their intentions to take on all comers in this division. Mr. Center Stage was all show horse in victory tonight, never backing an ear and loving every second of those long straightaways. Kelly Mount and Zensation have been reserve in all three of their classes so far this year under the direction of Nelson Green. Deborah Visser was up for a winning ride at River Ridge earlier this year for Mount Saddlebreds. This team just continues to improve, turning in one of their best rides here tonight. Re-Energized and Jessie Richardson rounded out the top three for Kathleen and Elizabeth Ververeli and Team Kierson.

Down towards the end of the night, it was Rob Byers doing the riding for B & T Vonderschmitt LLC, with this blue ribbon coming in the Junior Three-Gaited Over 15.2. Undulata’s Dream Team carried off the blue streamers here in his first trip over the Red Mile track. Freedom Hall he is more familiar with, as he was famously the winner of the ASR Kentucky Weanling Futurity Word’s Championship in 2007. The “Dream Team” name comes from the pairing of Undulata’s Nutcracker and Five-Gaited World’s Grand Champion Garland’s Dream. Dream Team doesn’t come close to the coloring of either of his celebrity parents, as he is a bright chestnut with a white stripe. Nutcracker also had the reserve winner in Kentucky Proud. Neil Visser was up for Terri Dolan. This was the winning combination at Asheville earlier this year. Kentucky Proud is out of Enchanting Elizabeth, by The Talk Of The Town. A winner at the Royal last year, Callaway’s No Reservations finished third for Todd Graham and Tannehill Farms.

The evening started off with shades of last night, as the first class in, the UPHA Park Pleasure Classic, began with a shoe being tacked back on. Once the class got under way, Matt Lightner continued his winning season with Dare To Care, a full brother to Kenny Wheeler’s harness winner, Caraway’s New York Minute. A beautiful gelding with a light mane and tail, Dare To Care lit up the track, with Lightner jazzing up the bridle as his boss Smith Lilly so often does. Matt Shiflet debuted a filly by Undulata’s Nutcracker to take reserve. She is out of Miss Moriarty, by For What It’s Worth. How this one got through the ASHA censors we’ll never know. This filly is named Juice From The Nut. She is owned by Don and Phyllis Brookshire. Born To Believe finished up in third for Todd Graham and owner Kim Jarvis. Graham was Reserve World’s Champion with this gelding by He’s Born To Royalty in the ASR Two-Year-Old Fine Harness Kentucky Futurity.

Attache’s Popeye turned heads in the Amateur Gentlemen’s Three-Gaited class, winning with Danny Cummins aboard for Danny and Kathy Cummins. Ed Millet trains this son of Attache’s Royal Assets out of a Radiant Sultan mare. Odyssey Man and Dylan Hines were reserve for Yvonne Hines and DeVore Stables.

The usual suspects showed up for the Hackney Horse class, with Rudolph The Second winning for the second straight year, this time with owner Paul Richardson at the lines. Rudolph is the two-time defending Hackney Horse World Grand Champion at the Royal Winter Fair. Heartland Blizzard finished reserve for the fourth year in a row with Karen Waldron driving for Bent Tree Farm. Majestic Oaks trains both of these top horses.

It was a relatively small affair in the Junior Five-Gaited Mare class, with just three entries showing. Cavalia has truly come into her own now with Matt Shiflet, ripping off five straight wins since Louisville last year. The biggest of those came at the Royal as the UPHA Five-Gaited Classic National Champion for Chris and Andrea Athanasuleas. Jet black and beautiful, Cavalia was the unanimous victor. She is by CF First Night Out and out of Viola Madden. Winner of this class at Rock Creek, Cary On Broadway MBA was reserve tonight with A.J. Bruwer riding for Margo Baird. Sired by I’m A New Yorker, Cary On Broadway is out of the Baird’s grand harness mare, CH Cary’s Moonraker, also the dam of MBA’s Royal Shadow Phax, a winner in today’s morning session.

Two great ones squared off in the Harness Pony class, with Mastercraft’s Promoter LF getting the edge with Tom Lowry at the lines for Golden Creek Farm. The last time Promoter was on this track, he lit it up as the Limit Harness Pony winner in 2008. By Mastercraft, Promoter is out of a mare by Golden Creek’s many-time World’s Grand Champion Cherry’s Dream Boy. Speaking of World’s Grand Champions, the multi-titled Par Excellence finished reserve with Larry Ella driving for the Bent Tree Farm. Now 14, Par Excellence continues to shine.

Missouri staple What Was I Thinking blasted onto the national stage tonight with Lisa Duncan aboard for TNT Investment Enterprises, winning the Amateur Five-Gaited Stallion/Gelding class. Directed by Virgil Helm, this team took the amateur title at UPHA Chapter 5 earlier this season. Bred to rack, this quick-stepping gelding is by Desert’s Supreme Memories and out of a Caramac mare. Also out of a Caramac mare, reserve winner Hey Joe is by CH Callaway’s Born To Win. Cyd Simmons consistently puts this Devore-trained entry in the top prizes for Burlington Saddlebreds, finishing reserve in their last four outings against the top competition at River Ridge and Rock Creek. Brittany Baird made her best ride aboard her new partner for this year, Leatherwood’s Colors Up. Trained by A.J. Bruwer, this entry of MBA Equestrians rounded out the top three.

Real Action maintained his unbeaten season with Peter Cowart in the Three-Gaited Over 15.2 Stake. It was a unanimous win for the entry of McKenzie and Plunkett, his eighth blue ribbon in a row. In his stellar career he has but one blemish, that coming as a Reserve World’s Champion last season. That red ribbon was avenged with the Junior World’s Championship just a few days later. Alliteration aficionados would wish that Real Action was named “Awesome Action” as Bubble Bath was reserve and Coco Cool finished third. Merrill Murray had Bubble Bath in top form for Michelle McCune in second. Ceil Wheeler made the catch ride a year ago at Louisville to take the Amateur Ladies Three-Gaited Over 15.2 Reserve World’s Championship.

Heartland High Tech has to be in the running for Best Performance of the Night. He was the unanimous winner of the Hackney Pony class with Ruth Gimpel driving for Helen Rosburg. They were champions here a year ago after Ali DeGray qualified with a ladies blue ribbon. The 2009 World’s Grand Champion was his high-headed, long-necked self once again tonight to take a smashing victory in a field of seven. Winner of this class in 2007, Regal’s Trademark LF has made a return to the cobtail division after three years showing with the road ponies. Mary Gaylord McClean did the driving to take the red ribbon back to Golden Creek Farms. It bears mentioning that this remarkable pony has earned World’s Championships in both divisions! The 2007 World’s Grand Champion and current Reserve World’s Grand Champion Lord Ovation finished third with Larry Ella for Kathryn Boyd.

It was a star-studded lineup in the Fine Harness Stallion/Gelding Stake with seven making top shows. By the time all three cards were in and the prizes were set to be announced, most all of the horses were back going around the ring at an animated walk, having stood in the lineup for quite some time. It looked like they were going for a second workout! No additional work was required in this one, as it was a unanimous choice of the judges that sent The Road Less Traveled and Jim Lowry to the winner’s circle. This entry of Thomas R. Brock Jr. may have found his niche here in harness, as he has gone from third in his debut at Midwest to reserve in the championship there and now first on the Red Mile. This phenomenally gifted horse has been a work in progress for Lowry, and the reigning Fine Harness World’s Grand Champion trainer looks like he has worked it out just right. Midwest Champion Wild Carrissima was reserve tonight with Melissa Moore driving for Golden Creek Farms. The impressive dark bay gelding was breathing fire once again as he ate up the track with his high-reaching park trot. He was the Stallion/Gelding Reserve World’s Champion just a year ago. CH Castledream and Misdee Wrigley Miller made their first show together since Asheville 2009 to round out the top three for the Kalarama team. Gothic Revival and Martin Teater finished fourth for Tri-Color Saddlebreds.

The Park section of the program was up next with the Amateur and Junior Exhibitor classes showing back to back. Brookhill’s Periday and James Sigmon notched their biggest win together in the amateur class, taking the blue ribbon back to Clouse Stables. They have been fantastic on this track, taking two reserve wins in their first season together last year. Periday was the Open Park World’s Champion of Champions in 2008. Big, bold and bay, he is by Periaptor and out of the Broodmare Hall of Famer, CH It’s A Beautiful Day. A bay with four white socks, Sole Heir was reserve here with Patrice Watson O’Brien. Sired by Supreme Heir, Sole Heir is out of Ring Girl, by Center Ring. Hollywood Electra and Katherine Rainbolt finished third for the Rainbow Princess Farms and DeLovely, making some fantastic passes down the long straightaways.

McGee Bosworth has enjoyed a successful start to her first season with CH Reedann’s Heir To Glory. They debuted to two blues at Raleigh and another at JD Massey. Their win tonight in the Junior Exhibitor Park class was perhaps their most impressive to date, taking top honors for Allen and McGee Bosworth and the High Caliber Stables cheering section, always one of the loudest. Heir To Glory is always in the top prizes here, having finished in the top three in all three of his previous classes here. Jim Lowry has That’s Chicago teamed up with his daughter, Audrey, and they are taking on the Junior Exhibitor Park division, finishing reserve here after taking the reserve championship at Midwest. That’s Chicago is owned by KC’s Dream LLC. Katie Cunningham rode That’s Chicago to multiple wins here in the Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited division, even gracing the billboards around town one year. Ashley Bryce and CH Ya-Ya rounded out the top three. They were champions of this division at Midwest and reserve champions here last season.

Heartland Pursuit has a new job description for this season, and he made a stunning debut performance in the Limit Harness Pony class. Ronnie Graham was at the lines for Helen Rosburg, just as he was a year ago as the Limit Road Pony winner. By Heartland Code Of Honor and out of a Sky King mare, Pursuit has the ability to really rock back and strut, always fun to watch in the longtail division. Winner of this class at Midwest, Michigan’s Striking Image was reserve tonight, with owner Kay Marschel looking lovely in the viceroy under the direction of Majestic Oaks.

With a pat on the rump for her teammate, Annika Bruggeworth rode to the winner’s circle with the support of all three judges in the Ladies Five-Gaited Gelding qualifier. Her teammate in this one was The Decisive Moment. She stood out from the pack in her hot pink coat, but it was her horse who really demanded to be seen. Newly teamed up in 2011, they have four wins and three reserves to their credit already this year. Jerry Hutson has done a masterful job of pairing these two and it paid off with a unanimous win tonight. Caitlin Leith and longtime partner CH What’s The Whoopla were reserve for the West Wind banner. This matched their best finish on this track. That was back long ago in their junior exhibitor days… in 2009. They were reserve in their qualifier that year as well. Melissa Moore has Thunder Crackin’ working strong for her Sunrise Stables. They finished up in third.

Misdee Wrigley Miller was back again, this time with Heartland Dressed To Impress in the Amateur Roadster Pony class. In just their second class together, they earned their second blue ribbon. Last year’s Junior World’s Champion of Champions and the UPHA Road Pony Classic National champion, Dressed To Impress has all the makings of a star. He is by Heartland Code Of Honor and out of a Dun-Haven Awesome Creation mare. The timeless CH Heartland Sundust was reserve with Beth Jones driving under the direction of Connie Smith. They were reserve champions here just last season.

Is there anyone cooler than Merrill Murray? Seriously. The man is just cool! Ho hum, let’s win the Five-Gaited Gelding and Mare Stakes at Lexington in back to back years, no big deal. Merrill put on a clinic tonight in the Five-Gaited Mare Stake with Walterway’s What About Me to win it for the second year in a row for Larry Hartsock. What About Me is from Hartsock’s golden cross of Star Material and Yorktown’s Forget Me Not that also produced superstars like Walterway’s Remember Me. Merrill for some reason owns the second way of the ring. He did it last night with Courageous Lord, and he did it again tonight with What About Me. On the reverse trot, he was just riding along one-handed, fixing his hat. Then at the rack, he gave his hat another touch, scratched his nose and then just gave that hand a rest for the remainder of the rail, leaving at least one of the judges smiling in center ring. Need we mention that the mare never left the perfect frame of her headset or even thought about backing an ear or taking a step out of line? This man is one of the great ones, a UPHA Hall of Famer, and he is just Cool.

Matt Shiflet had another Undulata’s Nutcracker mare, this one more appropriately named, up for reserve. This was Nuttin’ But A Dream, out of a Callaway’s Blue Norther mare. She is owned by Brookshire and Gendron. Nuttin’ But A Dream was the Junior Mare World’s Champion last year with Shiflet aboard. She put on a crowd pleasing show at Asheville to win the competitive Denver Junior class. She was a strong second tonight.

This blustery night on the Red Mile ended on that high note, with lower temperatures set to prevail over the next two days. We will bring you full coverage of Lexington right here at and video highlights every night on ReporTV!

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