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Lexington - Monday Evening

“I didn’t know a horse show could be like this.” That’s the average reaction of a person seeing the event that is the Lexington Junior League Horse Show. And “event” is truly the most correct term for it. It’s more than a horse show, it’s more than a party at a race track, it’s an event. Things that get lost to those of us who have been coming to this horse show for years and years are new and impressive to a Lexington newcomer. How often do we stop and think about how very close the Lexington skyline is to our parade of Saddlebreds and Hackneys? Take the time tomorrow night to watch the sunset radiating off the beautiful buildings of downtown Lexington, not much more than a mile from center ring. It will take your breath away all over again. Those who have never been here before will remark on how a typical horse show these days will host 60 classes then have an exhibitors’ “party” where people stand in line for a few minutes to get their free food, then disperse into the night. Here, the exhibitors party all night long, from class 1 to class 17. And it’s not even so much that it is a wild bacchanalia on the Red Mile every night. It is the social aspect of this affair, a thing that has been lost from nearly every horse show in the country, even those that used to be called “Society” horse shows. Lexington lives on. Lexington endures. The Junior League continues to put on a horse show for Society. Those newcomers are hooked. They can’t wait for tomorrow night. They can’t wait for Saturday night. They can’t wait for next year and the one after that. Welcome to Junior League.

Judges Bill Waller, Paul Boone, and Josh Greer got off to a great start at this the 76th iteration of the Lexington Junior League Horse Show, as all three selected The Proof Is In The Heir and Alex Rudder as winners of the Junior Exhibitor 13-and-Under Three-Gaited class. This first event of the night also served as the first time on the Red Mile for young Alex, and she worked the long straightaways perfectly under the direction of Stephanie Sedlacko. Alex comes by her knowledge of this track naturally, as her “sire” is top amateur rider David Rudder. In her first year showing in bigtime competition, Alex has acquitted herself well, perfectly paired with The Proof Is In The Heir to make a picture perfect kids’ combo. Laura Plant and Bubble Bath were working hard under the late day sun, earning reserve for Tom and Patsy Plant and the High Caliber banner. Champions last month at Roanoke, Bubble Bath and Laura are also in their first season together. A year ago, it was Merrill Murray riding Bubble Bath to two open reserves here. Always up for top prizes on this track, CH Callaway’s Born With Style and Molly Codeanne were third for Cedarledge Farm.

Harlem’s Worldly Lady and the Red Mile have a longstanding love affair, one that would perhaps be worthy of a tale by Helen Rosburg! Tonight it was husband James Rosburg at the lines for a Country Pleasure Driving win. This is another horse perfectly suited to her division. She has that free, easy, natural motion that is the hallmark of the division. Twice a winner here last year, the big chestnut daughter of Harlem Globetrotter and Callaway’s Lady Mac was driven then by Ali DeGray, who also took her to a World’s Championship in their Louisville qualifier. Reserve National Champions a year ago and Reserve Champions at Midwest just last month, Roberta Belle was reserve here as well with Kathy Capsuto Walker driving. Sired by Sir William Robert, Roberta Belle is out of Kathy’s wonderful harness mare, CH Dancing Up A Storm LCC, by Tornaado. Majestic Monsieur and Kay Marschel earned third place honors, under the direction of Melissa Moore, who is still one of the few trainers who can gracefully step over the white plastic fence at the in gate end of the grandstand rail.

Winner of eight of his last nine trips on the Red Mile, Seamair Simply Awesome was a unanimous victor in Amateur Hackney Pony competition. Oozing quality beneath his beautiful harness, Simply Awesome was once again teamed up with John Wrather for a blue ribbon drive, directed as always by Janet Crampton. Nobu and Karen Frickey earned reserve for Frickey Farm and trainers Randy and Denessa Harper. This is the first season that Karen has teamed with the 2009 Junior Harness Pony World’s Champion of Champions.

Subscribing to the theory that the best way to get a top junior rider for your horses is to create one, Peter and Kim Cowart have a phenomenal talent in their daughter, Camille. What to do with a great young rider? Team her with a stunningly athletic son of CH Callaway’s Born To Win and turn them loose on the junior exhibitor division. So far it seems to be working. They won their fifth blue ribbon in five trips to the ring, this time in the Junior Exhibitor 14-17 Five-Gaited class. County Fair Five-Gaited Champion on Sunday night in Freedom Hall last year, Born To Ride is out of Callaway’s Carina, by CH Caramac. He has Callaway Hills breeding written all over him and will continue to be tough to beat as the season progresses. Both of the top two in this class were part of the Premier Stables string this time a year ago. It was CH I’m Something Wicked earning reserve here with McGee Bosworth up for Pair of Jacks Stables LLC. Championship honors have already come this year at Roanoke, J.D. Massey, and Raleigh Spring Premier for this smashing new team. Directed by High Caliber, they earned the second red ribbon of the night for Mary and Evan Orr. Hailey Wegner put together a great first ride on the Red Mile, earning third with Sensational Charm for Renae and Hailey Wegner and the Knollwood team.

Where are we now? Well if it’s the Red Mile, then it’s the winner’s circle for Dr. Brian Garrett and Where Are We Now. They won the Amateur Roadster Under Saddle class here for the fourth year in a row. The white and navy silks with the red lining screamed down the long straightaways for yet another blue ribbon ride. This team is also the three-time defending Amateur World’s Championship winner. Four for four on the young season, Vivacious returned to her all time favorite show ring, earning reserve this time with Dr. Holly Ackerman riding under the direction of Steve Hanks. Her last appearance on the Red Mile was in 2009 as the Roadster Under Saddle winner. Holly has owned this wonderful mare since 2005.

The reigning Three-Gaited Reserve World’s Grand Champion and Three-Gaited 15.2-and-Under World’s Champion continued his winning season with Ceil Wheeler in the irons, taking the Amateur Three-Gaited 15.2-and-Under blue. Sired by Designed and out of Reedann’s Supreme Glow, Swing An Singin’ used a great second way to stand out in a great field of 12. Trained by Mercer Springs, Swing An Singin’ is about as naturally talented as any Saddlebred the show ring has ever seen. She can trot to the stars and still snap her hocks up underneath her. Amateur Under 2 winners at Midwest, Watermark’s A Kiss For Luck and Dr. Merrell Magelli were reserve here tonight, directed by Lionel Ferreira and Monnington Farm. Kiss For Luck is by Callaway’s Northern Kiss and out of a Catalyst mare. Callaway’s Undercover Blues and Patsy Loeb earned third for Larry Hodge, while Ready To Jet and Elisabeth Goth were fourth.

While last call won’t come until 1am in Lexington, it made an early appearance tonight as the winner of the Ladies Harness Pony class with Mary Gaylord McClean for Golden Creek Farms. Last Call was also the winner of this class a year ago. He is by Mastercraft’s Stargazer LF and out of Malabar’s Femme Fatale. Completing the same top pair from a year ago, Major Impact and Karen Frickey were reserve for Frickey Farms. He is by Kilbro’s Image and out of Kilbro’s Precious Moments, a pure product of the Kildows Hackney breeding program.

Honey Badger don’t care that it’s his first time on the Red Mile. He romped to a fantastic win in the Junior Five-Gaited Stallion/Gelding division with Matt Shiflet aboard for Christina and Andrea Athanasuleas. This is yet another great young gaited prospect for the same connections that brought us UPHA Five-Gaited Classic National Champion Cavalia. If you don’t get the name “Honey Badger,” go ahead and Google it. We would link to it here, but this is a family website! Formerly named Late Night Snack, Honey Badger is by CF First Night Out and out of Worthy’s Even Then, by Roseridge Heir. His big, open front end speaks volumes to the bottom line of his pedigree, with that 3-T blood coming to the forefront. Peter Cowart guided Memories Of Cabo to reserve for Caitlin Leith. Another wonderfully athletic pedigree on paper come to life in the show ring, Memories Of Cabo is by Desert’s Supreme Memories and out of Kalarama’s My Heart, by Harlem Globetrotter. This is a full brother to 2011 Junior Five-Gaited Stallion/Gelding Sec. II World’s Champion Pass With Care. Two Punch and Virgil Helm were third for Virgil and Sandra Helm. Also by Desert’s Supreme Memories, Two Punch might get his name from the double dose of Mountain Highland Memories blood he has. He is out of Shenandoah’s Sherry Wine, by Memories Of Shenandoah, a Mountain Highland Memories son.

First through the gate and the last to leave, Follow The Sun was the unanimous choice of the judges in the Ladies Fine Harness division, and why not? This was the same track that he and Annika Bruggeworth smashed to national prominence a year ago as reserve winners in this very class, lighting up the Red Mile with that giant, square step and impressive silhouette. The beautiful black gelding was custom made for the just before sunset timing of this Ladies event. Jerry Hutson has done a tremendous job for Siren Song. He headed up this round of honor. Also looking the part and dressed in black, Kalarama’s New York Lady was reserve with Vicki Reed at the lines for Three Gables LLC and trainer A.J. Bruwer. Sired by I’m A New Yorker, New York Lady is out of Lady Whitney, by The New York Times.

Two classes, two unanimous victories for Annika, as Todd Miles rode My Hail Mary to the Junior Three-Gaited 15.2-and-Under blue. Wait a minute, who is this newcomer to the scene? A quick search of the ASHA database will point out that she has had a recent name change! Her former name? MBA’s Revival Of The Blues, Two-Year-Old Fine Harness Mare World’s Champion and ASR National Three-Year-Old Three-Gaited World’s Champion for sire Revival and dam Crimson Blue. New name, same results, as she is three for three with Todd Miles aboard. She loves to show, never dropping an ear as she moves in that balanced, easy park trot. Quick-trotting and moving snappily down the rail, Callaway’s Count Your Blessings was reserve with Elisabeth Goth aboard for Kim Jarvis and Bruce Williams. Directed by Brian Chappell, Count Your Blessings is a full sister to the great Adelita and CH Callaway’s Blue Agate. MW War Image’s Lady and Wyatt DeHart were third for Hart to Hart Stables. While not sired by War Image, she is out of a War Image daughter, The Lady Is A Captain. She is by the DeHart’s stallion, Powerful Charm LCC.

While it was not officially titled the Heartland Hackney Farm-bred Hackney Pony class, it worked out to be that way, as two Heartland prefixes took to the ring in Limit Hackney Pony competition. The winning cobtail here was Heartland Whirlwind, with Jeff McClean driving for the Golden Creek Farms. By Heartland Equality, she is out of a Dun-Haven Bandolier mare. An excellent candidate one day for Mary and Jeff’s broodmare band, Whirlwind was reserve in this class a year ago as a three-year-old, before going on to win the Three-Year-Old Hackney Pony World’s Championship. Also by Heartland Equality, Heartland Dixie Drummer was reserve with Paul Richardson as the owner and driver. Dixie Drummer is out of a Sky King mare, a full sister to the phenomenal Heartland Rain Song.

The current Lexington Ladies Five-Gaited Champion added a third win in a row to her Red Mile resume, winning the Ladies Five-Gaited Mare class for the second straight year. This was, of course, Lynn Williams. Mary Gaylord McClean once again piloted the rangy bay mare to the winner’s circle. Perhaps Mary should be invited to speak at the ASHA’s Open House on Tuesday that will feature Don Harris and Raymond Shively as “Masters of the Red Mile.” Mary certainly put on a masterful performance tonight! The aforementioned Cavalia made a strong showing for Misdee Wrigley Miller and the Kalarama team to take reserve honors. The Junior Five-Gaited Reserve World’s Champion of Champions a year ago, Cavalia is by CF First Night Out and out of the wonderful pleasure mare, Viola Madden. Maria Gilman and Tango Mango are really coming together as a team. Maria owns the Dorian Warriors Song (SA) product herself and showed to third place tonight. She was the Ladies Champion at J.D. Massey and earned reserve in this same class at the Royal last fall.

Showing for just the fourth time in this division, Roar Of Thunder topped a solid field of five in the Roadster to Wagon class. Ronnie Graham went for the doctor, as Roar Of Thunder made an ears up, unanimous victory lap. Roar Of Thunder has the good size and stature for a true “Wagon” horse. He made a crowd-pleasing performance here tonight. It’s not often that the announcer gets to call out the same name for two different entries in the same night, but Peter Doubleday did just that in pinning Last Call reserve with Judy McNeish. The pony version of Last Call had of course won the Ladies Harness Pony class earlier in the night. Roadster to Wagon Champion at the Royal last year, Last Call is trained by Raymond Shively.

Catherine Wheeler got the Red Mile crowd rolling like few crowds in the country can. She electrified the Red Mile with a 13-and-Under Five-Gaited blue-ribbon ride aboard CH Callaway’s Born For This. Showing under the direction of Mercer Springs for parents Ceil and Kenny Wheeler, Catherine rode the gray hair off her mare. This was just Catherine’s fourth class on the jet-fueled reigning National Champion. The crowd carried her down one rail and back up the next, sending this team to a unanimous win, the second for the Wheelers and Mercer Springs on the night. Jozee Johnson may have made her best ride yet aboard Varsity Blues to garner reserve for the Clouse Stables gang. Her bright yellow coat looked just right for this time of night as she trotted and racked her way to second in this nice group of six. Heirrison Ford and Olivia Schumacher were third for Lorraine Schumacher and Kierson Farm.

Beginning his Road Pony career just last year, Dimitri has been a star in the making for owner Donna Zimmerman and the Majestic Oaks team. Holli Hayes made the winning drive tonight, earning a unanimous round of honor in the Limit Road Pony class. Amateur Champion at River Ridge with Donna Zimmerman at the lines, Dimitri is an up and coming star in this division. Abel Vega guided Sis O’ Six to a reserve title here for owner and breeder Golden Creek Farms. Road Pony Champion at J.D. Massey earlier this year, Sis O’ Six is just six years old this year. She is by Twentieth Century and out of a Cherry’s Dream Boy mare.

After a second second-way trot, it was a unanimous decision for CH Real Action and Kim Cowart in the Ladies Three-Gaited Over 15.2 qualifier. Owned by Robin McKenzie Vuillermet, Real Action has been a sensation in nearly all six years of his life. While he was certainly a stunning weanling and yearling, he didn’t show in hand, so his accolades didn’t start rolling in until he was two, setting the Royal on fire with Tom Scott. The next three years were a blur of World’s Championships and the crowning glory of a World’s Grand Championship just a year ago. Being prepped for Robin to show, Real Action has taken Robin to two wins on the year at J.D. Massey, where they swept the Ladies Three-Gaited division. Jacqueline Beck has teamed well with Kalarama’s Blue Mac in this their second campaign together. Winners at Shelby County Fair a couple weeks ago, Blue Mac and Jacqueline are directed by Neil Visser. He is by Blue O’Shea and out of Callaway’s Lady Mac, the aforementioned dam of Harlem’s Worldly Lady. Blue Mac is owned by the Williams Family Trust. More Than Enough and Kristen Thorin were third for Linda Thorin Johnson and trainer Mike McIntosh, while Ali DeGray and Wee Pee’s Storm finished up in fourth.

The Five-Gaited Gelding Stake was an historic one, but not for any of the usual reasons. When was the last time the geldings hit the ring when you could steal the traces of the sunset on the horizon!? Also of note was the man on the sidelines tonight, Merrill Murray. We weren’t certain it was within the USEF rules to have a Five-Gaited Gelding Stake at Junior League without Merrill in it! Just once since 2001 has Merrill not been part of this Monday night finale! 2001 and 2002 he was aboard SS Genuine, then Hero’s Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Wing Admiral, CH Out Of Reach, Kalarama’s All Time High, Shame On You, and then the last three years with World’s Grand Champion Courageous Lord. The only other time he was on the outside looking in was in 2005. Perhaps even more impressively, of those 10 classes, he won it half the time!

Beginning his march to the Saturday night workout in Freedom Hall on this very track a year ago, Bravo Blue put on another show for the Red Mile faithful, topping the Five-Gaited Gelding Stake with Rob Byers aboard for Theresa Vonderschmitt. Rob worked the track to perfection, stopping in the corners and watching for his spots. Second way, he took to his strategy from a year ago, making pass after pass right down the middle of the ring, narrowing it to about a 40 foot chute. It’s always impressive to watch the professional horsemen and women show in this ring in a big class, hanging back in the turns, but never really riding at each other in the ends. It is a big ring, and everyone seems to be most concerned with putting their horse at the best advantage, rather than riding to put another entry at a disadvantage. Rob did all that and more with his brilliant chestnut son of Northern Blues tonight, winning again, coming off a great Five-Gaited Jackpot Stake victory at Rock Creek last month.

Tre Lee got a nice sendoff from the crowd aboard The King’s Redemption. “I don’t even yell at horse shows, but I’m yelling for that one,” quipped one veteran horse show goer. The entry of recently engaged Bridget McNeese was making his first show since the 2010 Royal, and he looked every bit the part of the wildly athletic star that he always has been. As has been his lot in life to this point, he settled for reserve, but man oh man have those reserves all been impressive! His show record basically reads Louisville, Lexington, Louisville, Lexington, Louisville, Lexington, with reserve wins coming at each and every show, each and every year. Clark Clouse hit the ring with a full head of steam, looking to get his piece of the action with Callaway’s Outta Here. He rode to third for Harold Denton Jr. Iconium made some leg-waving passes for Karin Lynn Folkers-Smith to take fourth out of this big field of 13.

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