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Lexington Junior League - Wednesday Night

It was a group of four miniature horses and their handlers that took care of flag presentation duties on "Family Night" at Lexington Junior League. On yet another picturesque night, it was the Landmark family that put on a landmark performance on The Red Mile. With three blue ribbon rides to go along with a reserve championship drive and a hard-earned third-place finish, Robert and Jonelle Gardiner’s team of horses and riders were on top of their games all night long in some of the deepest classes of the night.

Chief amongst these had to be the Open Three-Gaited Park qualifier. With 16 horses thundering into the show ring, it was anybody’s ballgame. The judges thought so as well and called for a second workout. They made the slightly odd choice of sending seven horses back to the rail and kept the other nine milling around in the center of the ring, rather than selecting one more horse and excusing the balance of the class. Called back to the rail in this order were Reedann’s Heir To Glory and Smith Lilly, Ya-Ya and Dena Lopez, CF A Rare Genius and David Cater, Aurora’s Asset and Rick Wallen, Santa Ana Wind and Matt Shiflet, I Am Sasha Fierce and Robert Gardiner, and Tom Hanks and A.J. Bruwer. After the long work in the first part of the class, it was going to take a Herculean effort to put on a bigtime performance in the second work. David Cater and CF A Rare Genius, who put on perhaps their best show to date in the initial railwork, finished seventh for Catherine McCool. Aurora’s Asset, who survived a body check up against the boards at the first-way canter, was fifth for Rick Wallen and Al Kelm. Tom Hanks and A.J. Bruwer, who seems to always have a top Park horse to show, were fifth for MBA Equestrians. Matt Shiflet looked like he had a great shot at the blue in the initial class with Santa Ana Wind, a recent purchase of Gaited Inc.’s from Tri-Color Ventures and Lowry Stables. This sporty bay by Santana’s Charm wound up fourth.

And then there were the final three. These three horses withstood a long class and really kept it all together. Smith Lilly was jazzing up the bridle with Reedann’s Heir To Glory as the powerful bright chestnut marched up and down the rail. Smith used this trademark technique of his with great effect on the Supreme Heir x Phi Slama Jama cross. This is a horse that seems perfect for the Park division. Big and athletic, Heir To Glory finished third for Gary and Tammie Kale. The top two horses were the first two into the lineup in the second workout. They almost lined up on top of each other in fact, stirrup to stirrup. It was the veteran versus the rookie, as Ya-Ya and I Am Sasha Fierce duked it out for the top spot. Since we called this a Landmark night, you astute readers already know how it turned out. However, it needs to be said that the grand mare, CH Ya-Ya, really gave Dena Lopez all that she had for Elizabeth Shatner and Dorothy Anderson. It was a great class, and the reserve tie was hard-earned for the reigning Park Mare World’s Champion, perhaps the last Park Mare World’s Champion, as the division has dropped the Mare and Stallion/Gelding classes at Louisville to go to a non-gender-specific format.

Formerly known as Crazy For Cats, I Am Sasha Fierce is by The Cheetah and out of Show The World, by Show Me Too. She was bred by Mike and Jane Schallock and formerly trained by Rick Wallen. Here is your pop culture update for those not in the know: I Am Sasha Fierce is the title of Beyonce Knowles’ latest album. If you don’t know who Beyonce is, we can’t help you. We’ll leave that up to Google. For such a striking name, you need a striking mare to go with it. Stephen and Megan Dragich have one in Sasha Fierce. A dark chestnut with a bi-colored tail, chestnut mixed with a very light, almost white color, this horse is just four years old. To go up against a field of some of the very best, survive a second work, and actually improve and finish stronger than you started takes a phenomenal effort, and that is what Sasha Fierce and Robert Gardiner put in tonight to earn the unanimous blue.

Gardiner was back later in the night to win the Three-Gaited 15.2 and Under with VHF Belle Epoque, his Under 2 World’s Champion of a year ago. Improving even over her World’s Championship performance and really coming into her own this year, the 10-year-old mare by Bluebell Banner is out of a mare by the great walk-trot horse, Americana's Jazz Man. She looks poised to do it again in 2009. Liberty’s Magic and A.J. Bruwer were reserve for Vicki Reed. This is a horse that always seems to stand out from the crowd with showman A.J. Bruwer at the helm. Rob Turner and SJ The Smart Lady (SA) were third for Holli Esposito.

As happy as Robert Gardiner was with his own two victory passes, it was the third Landmark trip down victory lane that really seemed to please him. Kristen Eve Gardner put it all together tonight with her gorgeous bay five-year-old gelding, Kalarama’s Carrousel for Ready Set Show Inc. Reserve in the Four-Year-Old Sweepstakes last year, Carrousel has a picture perfect hinge to his neck and seems to cockily strut down the rail. It was a veteran performance in a field of 13 for this new team. Junior League poster children That’s Chicago and Katie Cunningham have been a familiar face to Lexington residents for the past few months, as their fantastic head-on shot from one of their back-to-back 14-and-Under Three-Gaited wins in the two previous years is up on billboards around town. Stepping up into the 15-17 ranks this year, Cunningham and That’s Chicago looked right at home, picking up reserve. The seemingly ageless CH Sportster was third for Brighton Barousse and the Cascade Stables team. One to watch for in the Championship will be Callaway’s Rosemary And Thyme with Ashley Baird. After a scintillating first trot, they lost a shoe after the first way canter, and then lost it again shortly thereafter, having to take the gate.

As happy and relaxed as Mary Marcum Orr is on a horse, you should see her coaching on the rail for her mom in the Country Pleasure Driving ranks with CH Dr. Deker! Pacing and twitching and driving along as if she is in the cart with her mom, Mary’s expert direction sure paid off tonight, as Debbie Marcum drove down victory lane with her longtime partner, CH Dr. Deker. World’s Champions together in 2007, Dr. Deker and Debbie Marcum put on a pleasure perfect performance tonight for the tri-color. Landmark Farm was back to pick up their reserve championship in this one, as all star Ali Judah made a terrific catch drive with He’s Got It All for Lauren and Lance Bohne. Qualifier winners Flashyheir and Tess Cunningham looked good in third.

Busting into the national scene here just a year ago, Juliette’s Deja Blue was back for more in 2009, once again topping the Amateur Three-Gaited Over 15.2 class with Andrea Athanasuleas up for Chris Athanasuleas. Big, bold and beautiful, Deja Blue struts, primps, prances, marches, whatever word you want to use to describe that three-gaited park trot, that’s what she does under the direction of Matt Shiflet. Callaway’s Blue Waltz was a repeat reserve finisher from last year. In 2008, it was Erin Obenauf in the saddle. Tonight, Susan Olcott did the honors under the direction of Rob Byers. Fresh off their Amateur Championship at Shelby County, Blue Waltz and Olcott are coming together nicely. For all of his success on Wednesday night, one of Robert Gardiner’s proudest moments seemed to be in the lineup of this class when Beata Lilja lined up with Harlem’s Showman. In just their second show together this year, the jet black 2008 open over 2 World’s Champion Showman and Lilja made a cool and consistence show for third.

The evening opened with 10 horses showing for the 15-17 Three-Gaited Show Pleasure blue. Making his first trip to The Red Mile since Maguire Hall won this very class with him in 2006, CH New York Style made a top-notch show tonight with Ben Ferreby to win the class. Marilyn Macfarlane made the run to the winner’s circle to greet her winning entry. Longtime driving partner of John Wrather, Callaway’s Carnegie Hall showed that he certainly still has his under saddle chops, taking reserve with Leslie Mechling aboard for Charlotte Wrather under Janet Crampton’s direction. Nick Maupin picked up the catch ride aboard First Night Vision to place third for Debra Hoffman.

In the Amateur Harness Pony class, it was the Mark Of Excellence daughter, Sweetheart Of Success that topped the field for Karen Waldron. Always the very picture of elegance in the viceroy, Waldron never fails to exude class and grace at the lines, whether it be a single, pairs or a team. Winner of this class just a year ago, Regal’s Pride LF and Karen Frickey were reserve tonight, reversing the placings from 2008. Impress My Daddy and Georgia Blevins finished third under the direction of Matt Schuckert.

The Amateur Gentlemen Five-Gaited went to last year's Junior Reserve Champion, Twilight Maxamillion. Brought out as a three-year-old by Ricky Cook and shown last year as a junior horse by Kris Knight and then Peter Cowart, it was young Josh Wall in the irons tonight to pick up the blue for Barbara Quinn and Josh Wall. Wall has been a fixture on the Carolina circuit for many years, finishing up his junior exhibitor career in 2006. Maxamillion is by I’m A New Yorker and out of Musical Gala. They show under the direction of Peter and Kim Cowart. Kim Cowart was especially pleased with the win, exuberantly jumping up and down back at the West Wind aisle. The Justin Cowley comeback tour continued tonight, this time with his own horse, Adrenaline Rush. Ridden by Tyler Miles to two blues at Rock Creek, Adrenaline Rush looks ready to match up with the grand showman, Justin Cowley, for Paul and Leetta Beachum.

Making a solo performance on the track she loves so much, CH Along Came A Spider earned her fifth consecutive Fine Harness Mare win on The Red Mile for George Knight and Georgia Herpin Baker. Knight had on his customary all-black attire for his drive with the grand mare, impeccably attired in his black suit and hat to go along with the white shirt and black and white tie. The Junior League crowd showed their appreciation for this former World’s Grand Champion.

The AHHS Roadster Pony Medallion winner wasn’t even planning on being in attendance at Junior League this year. But since good friend and great kid Shannon Ella didn’t have anything to show in this class that she won last year, Trey Watson, Maureen Lydon Campbell and the Mr. Lucky Man connections decided to have Ella catch drive their superstar pony on The Red Mile. It was a great decision, as Shannon Ella put on a clinic with the World’s Champion, taking the blue ribbon for Joe and Patrice O’Brien. Trey Watson drove Lucky Man to the blue just last month at Rock Creek. Reserve World’s Champions for two years in a row, Catch Me If You Can and Lauren Mathewson were reserve tonight under the direction of Randy and Denessa Harper. Kentucky Hot Brown and Tyler Miles were third for Holt Oaks Farm.

It’s always fun to watch the road horses on The Red Mile. After all, it is where they were bred to show, or race rather. Racing off with the blue tonight in the Roadster Under Saddle class was Vivacious. Mary Lou Greenwell did the honors for Dr. Holly Ackerman. Wearing her royal and baby blue silks aboard the black speedster, Greenwell got to flyin’ in the victory pass, losing her cap in the breeze. A real up and comer in this division, Big-N-Rich looked ready to roll tonight in reserve for Matt Shiflet and owner, road horse legend Chappy Chapman.

One of the highlights of the evening performances at Junior League is always the different carriage classes. Tonight it was Open Phaeton Single or Pair. Marilyn Macfarlane returned to the winner’s circle, this time as the driver of her pair of Friesians, Jelke and Jacop. Aboard her Brewster Stanhope phaeton, Macfarlane is a Lexington tradition in this division. Riding atop her Peters George IV, made by top carriage crafters Brewster of New York, Misdee Wrigley Miller, another fiery redhead who looks right at home on The Red Mile, was reserve with her pair of Dutch Harness Horses.

The Five-Gaited Pleasure division was split, with the first section going back to West Wind with CH Stonewall’s Stargate and Stefanie Lackey Sanchez. World’s Champions in their division just a year ago, this team lit up the ring, making a victory pass for the ages. When this son of Society’s Bright Penny rears back and starts marching to the sky, he is hard to beat. Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited Pleasure National Champion with Angela Darrow up last fall, Cool Down Papa is now teamed with Kathy Scherer. Still trained by Jim Lowry, Cool Down Papa made his most consistence performance of the year with Scherer, taking advantage of the long straightaways to really get cranking. They were reserve tonight. Brittany Baird put on a textbook performance with My Pepper Ann to earn third in this deep split for Toni Nastali.

In the second section of Five-Gaited Pleasure, the Clouse Stables team of Just Heavenly and Anitya Marlowe took top honors for Harold Denton’s Bullet Concrete Materials. Just five years old, this black beauty is by CF First Night Out and out of the grand Show Pleasure World’s Champion, CH Reedann’s Phinery. Teamed with this black beauty is another beauty, Anitya Marlowe. This team tuned up for Junior League with wins at Lawrenceburg and Shelby County on the same weekend of "County Fairin’." Barbara Jozwiak and Jewelfire garnered the red streamers in this one under the direction of Tammy DeVore. They were Reserve Grand Champions here just a year ago, another team that loves this track. Reedann’s Top Notch and Dr. Kyla Tremper were third, giving Pat McConnell-trained horses third in both splits.

It is a feeling you can’t get anywhere else, not in Freedom Hall, not in Kemper Arena, nowhere. When the Junior League crowd picks up on an entry and gives them their support, it is just a different feeling. It’s not as loud and overpowering as Freedom Hall can get when it is really rocking, it is singularly Junior League, a wave of applause and cheers that washes down from one end of the crowd to the other, following a horse down the rail as he goes. And it always seems to be the grandstand crowd in the second level that makes a horse their own. Tonight their horse in the Amateur Five-Gaited Mare class was Ava Gardner. After putting five (yes, FIVE) entries into the two splits of Five-Gaited Pleasure, Tammy DeVore had Ashley Alden and Ava Gardner tuned to perfection tonight. By CF First Night Out and out of a Harlem Globetrotter mare, Ava Gardner is a drop dead gorgeous bay mare who puts her head in just the right place. Looking through the bridle on this beautiful night and marching down victory lane in an impressive performance, Ava Gardner staked her claim to a top spot in this division. She had to be on top of her game to beat one of the very best going, reigning World’s Champion amateur mare, Callaway’s Winning Ways. The rangy, powerful daughter of Callaway’s Blue Norther was once again shown beautifully by Barclay de Wet for Leatherwood Stud to pick up reserve honors.

The beautiful blonde Heartland Moonglow teamed with the beautiful blonde Kay Marschel to top the Ladies Hackney Pony class for the second year in a row. This is a combination that just has an ethereal glow about them in this outdoor evening setting. Trained by Majestic Oaks, they seem ready to take on all comers. Classical Dancer and Kathy Buente, Amateur Reserve World’s Champion of Champions last year, were reserve tonight under the direction of Lindsay Lavery.

Beaulah Jean was absolutely smoldering tonight on The Red Mile. Just when you thought you’d seen the very best this mare had to offer, she kicks it up a notch. Speed, power, animation, she’s got it all, and it was all out and on display tonight for Jeff McClean and the Golden Creek team as they picked up the unanimous victory. Larry Ella has another Bent Tree star by Mark Of Excellence looking in top form. This one is Moment Of Excellence, Reserve World’s Champion to Beaulah Jean in the Road Pony 50" and Under qualifier the last two years.

Deborah Koning repeated her 2008 win with another top notch performance behind Scruff to win the Roadster to Bike class. Always recognizable in her blue and green silks, Koning loves to put on a show for the appreciative crowd. Lady Hawke and Les Cunningham were rollin’ in reserve for Lanny Judd.

The Five-Gaited Stallion Stake was one of the better stud stakes in recent memory as far as depth and talent are concerned, with five top entries vying for the title. Tonight it would be Joe Fabulous heading to the winner’s circle with Melinda Moore riding for Spencer Mains. By I’m A New Yorker, Joe Fabulous is out of Feather Light, by Courageous Admiral. Feather Light is also the dam of Pour Some Sugar On Me. Just seven years old, a performance like this can’t help but call attention to this young stallion when breeding season rolls around next year. Looking every single bit the part of a horse with Will Shriver on his top and bottom lines, Callaway’s Bluesman is a big, powerful, black stallion son of Callaway’s Blue Norther. As correct-moving as any horse you will see anywhere, Bluesman racked and trotted up a storm tonight in reserve for Redd Crabtree and Callaway Hills. This five-year-old is out of the dam of Callaway’s Buttons And Bows, Callaway’s County Fair, and Callaway’s Merry-Go-Round, Callaway’s Carousel (BHF), by Caramac. Lakeview’s Rare-A-Phi and Misdee Wrigley Miller were third for Hillcroft Farm.

With that, Wednesday night drew to a close. Thursday morning holds the Country Pleasure Championships in store for us, while Thursday night will offer the always anticipated young horse classes. We’ll keep you in the know with complete results and coverage.

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