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Louisville - Saturday Night

The Final Four, the Super Bowl, the Kentucky Derby. The coverage of these events always focuses on the stories of the players, the backgrounds, the things that make them unique, information that makes the events more special to those watching as they transpire or reading about them after the fact. We want to know about the special moments that happen, what makes them so extraordinary or memorable. Stake night at Louisville is the Final Four of the Saddlebred, Hackney and Roadster world. It is our Super Bowl. And the list of stories from that last Saturday in August could go on and on. Rather than just recap the results for you, here is a reminder of what you saw in Freedom Hall or online, or what you heard about from your friends who were there. It was one of the most exciting Stake nights in recent memory, and it happened during one of the most unforgettable Louisvilles of the past decade.

The drama of the Open Five-Gaited division was phenomenal, with best friends going head to head throughout the week. The grand finale was no exception, as seven horses queued up for a final trip down the chute. Churchill Downs’ Steve Buttleman sounded a traditional call as Gene Wright played the familiar strains of My Old Kentucky Home.

It’s always fun to see who the crowd is going to cheer for when the horses first come to the ring. Mary Gaylord McClean and CH According To Lynn got the ball rolling tonight as the first ones to the ring, receiving their usual loud ovation. Mark Turner followed close behind with Heir Comes The Man, getting a nice shout from Team DeLovely. Redd Crabtree made his first gaited stake appearance since 2007 and had a bundle of energy beneath him in Callaway’s Bluesman. Karin Folkers had Lexington crowd pleaser Iconium up next, with Battle Rattle and Billy Jarrell making a World’s Grand Championship debut. With two left milling out in the paddock, it was Debbie Foley to come flying down the chute next with Callaway’s Annabel Allison. They got the crowd whipped into a frenzy immediately, before they even were in the ring, as Peter Fenton called their name aloud. The traditional place of honor went to the defending champ, Courageous Lord, as he and Merrill Murray passed through the white gates last. The crowd gave an equal shout for Murray and his mount, one that kept Courageous Lord from finding the right gear for a second. Imagine being a horse, coming down a dark narrow hallway, seeing bright lights and feeling that cold air on your face and then hearing a crowd of thousands, that you can’t yet see, all of a sudden start screaming… Welcome back to Freedom Hall, Joe.

With the seven all present and accounted for, they got to work, with Lewis Eckard getting the honor of being call judge for Class 240. He was joined by John Champagne and Michael Craghead on the panel of three for this ultimate Saddlebred event. Debbie Foley got right to work with Annabel Allison, trying to goad Merrill into riding at her, as he had tried with her in Tuesday night’s Mare Stake. As Foley put it on Tuesday in shutting him down, "Mine is showing on Saturday night. Yours isn’t!" Unsuccessful in baiting her good friend, Foley went speeding off down the rail, making a fabulous show in the first go-round. She did exactly what she had to do, making a show that gave the judges a reason to call for a workout. They hadn’t done it the previous year, tying Murray and Courageous Lord without the traditional second work. This year, that would not be the case.

Any student of the Saddlebred world could have made an educated guess as to what the workout would look like, and that guess most likely could have been made after the Wednesday night Gelding Stake. Four horses went back to the rail to vie for the greatest honor for an American Saddlebred. Courageous Lord was first to be called back to the rail, with CH According To Lynn following close behind. Callaway’s Bluesman was a deserving participant, with Callaway’s Annabel Allison the fourth and final horse called out for more. One of three horsemen standing in the center of the ring watching these four take it to each other, Billy Jarrell would later say of his first Five-Gaited World’s Grand Championship experience, "You think it’s loud standing on the rail? Try being in the middle. Wow!"

It certainly got loud as the workout kicked off. Would Courageous Lord hold up to a second go? He hadn’t ever done it before, with his two losses in 2009 coming after workouts. Every twist and turn was analyzed and watched carefully from the crowd. You could feel the audience catch its breath at every step out of line. It was similar to the way they used to cheer for Boucheron and Rob Byers, wanting nothing more than to scream their hearts out for their choice but not wanting to be the cause of any antics from the incredibly gifted gelding. But this time, it was different. Gone were the extra activities that had been part of Courageous Lord’s past. He was all business. And he had to be. Digging hard and making a grand show of her own, Debbie Foley put it all on the line with her young mare, Callaway’s Annabel Allison. What a team these two have become, campaigning all year long, winning the Ladies Stake a year ago and then the Mare Stake in 2010. They are a formidable opponent for Courageous Lord, only serving to make him have to continue getting better. Redd Crabtree might have the most true-moving gaited horse in the country in Callaway’s Bluesman. The big, burly stallion is all masculine muscle and athleticism. He carried himself about the best he has ever been in the workout, making a remarkable show of heart and determination for Tony Weldon’s Callaway Hills. Mary Gaylord McClean kept According To Lynn motivated, with Rob Byers calling out instruction from the rail. This absolutely gorgeous mare is one of the best to ever grace the green shavings; this class the only thing missing from her decorated resume.

When the green dust had settled, and the final lineup was full of pounding hearts and hard-breathing horses, announcer Peter Fenton guided the crowd on a historical tour of winners past. He pointed out three three-time winners of this class, who had won all three times with different horses. The camera focused first on Redd Crabtree, winner with Will Shriver, Cora’s Time, and Zovoorbij Commander In Chief. Next it was Merrill Murray up on the jumbotron, with his wins coming with Our Golden Duchess, SS Genuine, and Courageous Lord just a year ago. Then they went to the crowd, where Michele Macfarlane sat, a three-time winner and the "First Lady" of the gaited stake. Her wins came with the great Sky Watch, Memories Citation, and CCV Casey’s Final Countdown.

Once the stage was set, and all of the trophies and ribbons and blankets of roses were set in the winner’s circle, it was time to crown the Champion. With a flip of his hat to those on the rail, it was Merrill Murray making a second straight ride to the winner’s circle, the first back to back winner in nearly a decade. As Peter Fenton called out the name "Courageous Lord," his ownership team leapt into the air, with Bill Carrington throwing an emphatic fist to the sky. Co-owner Marsha Shepard was smiling about as wide as that pretty smile could stretch, as she watched her horse go by on his way to a presentation picture, the presentation picture.

Reserve World’s Grand Champion honors went to Debbie Foley and Callaway’s Annabel Allison. Undefeated to this point on the year with wins at Asheville, Midwest, Blue Ridge, and in the Mare Stake, Foley and Annabel Allison will certainly be back for another go at it in 2011. With her reserve ribbon in hand, Debbie rode to the winner’s circle, where Merrill stood near his mount. Merrill reached up and put the ribbon on her pocket, Debbie leaned over and got a kiss on the cheek from Merrill, and then the two great friends separated, as Foley took one last pass with her Caramac daughter. Third in the class went to the hard-charging Callaway’s Bluesman, with Redd Crabtree riding for the venerable Callaway Hills Stable. By Callaway’s Blue Norther and out of the Broodmare Hall of Famer, Callaway’s Carousel, Bluesman is everything you could ask for in a gaited stud. Winner of the Stallion Stake this year, he just continues to make leaps and bounds under the tutelage of Redd Crabtree. A long, long partnership just continues to go on, as the Crabtrees and the Weldons continue to team up for World’s Championships, just as they did in 1976 with Bluesman’s grandsire, CH Will Shriver.

The fourth award went to CH According To Lynn and Mary Gaylord McClean for Golden Creek Farms. Peter Fenton kept Mary in the ring for an extra moment to let the crowd know that they were witnessing Lynn’s final show ring performance. She has given everything and more in her seven-year career, leaving the ring one final time to the loud ovation of the adoring crowd. She has never left the Kentucky State Fair without a title, winning at least once every year from 2004 to 2009. This year she was the Five-Gaited Mare Reserve World’s Champion. It was Tre Lee that brought her out for Golden Creek as a two and three-year-old, winning the Two-Year-Old Five-Gaited Stake and the ASR National Futurity. Mary took over the reins in 2006 for two Junior World’s Championships and never looked back. They were Mare World’s Champions and Reserve World’s Grand Champions the next three years. She will go down in history as one of the greatest to never win the "big one," but she will most certainly be remembered for that beauty, elegance, and all the "want to" you could hope for in a Stake horse. By CH Callaway’s Born To Win and out of the incredible producer, Carol Lynn, a Broodmare Hall of Famer, According To Lynn’s career as a top-producing mare seems like almost a surety.

As we have written of the breeding of the second through fourth place horses, a trend emerges. All three are by Callaway Hills-bred stallions: Caramac, Callaway’s Blue Norther and Callaway’s Born To Win. Perhaps even more impressive is that they are all by different studs! What an incredible impact this grand farm and family have had on our breed, producing the ultimate in athleticism and ability.

Reserve in the Gelding Stake, Heir Comes The Man finished fifth with Mark Turner aboard for Glenn A. Werry Jr. A work in progress, this impressive Supreme Heir gelding, out of a Caramac mare, will most definitely be one to watch as his career continues. Battle Rattle and Billy Jarrell were sixth for Betty Jarrell, while Iconium and Karin Folkers finished in seventh.

With one horse left in the ring, Peter Fenton made the walk to the far end to interview the winning rider. There is no way to do justice to the great job that Fenton did without transcribing it for you.

Peter Fenton: Merrill Murray, congratulations, how about it ladies and gentlemen, one of the great, great guys in the Saddlebred business right here. Never too busy to help. Merrill, very special company tonight, you move up with Garland Bradshaw and behind only three other men to win this title. It looked like a very, very fierce competition tonight. Tell us a little bit about it.

Merrill Murray: It was, and some of the toughest competition was my very best friend, Debbie Foley.

Fenton: Well we’re going to talk about Debbie Foley, because if you were with us all week, Merrill showed Walterway’s What About Me in the Mare Stake, and it looked like you tried to have a little fun with Debbie in the lineup, but she wasn’t taking the bait, was she?

Murray: No, and she tried me tonight, and I wasn’t taking the bait.

Fenton: It’s the old story of the hunted and the hunter. If you’re winning, you’re not interested in a horse race. Merrill this is your fourth victory now, it was SS Genuine, and then way back a number of years ago it was Our Golden Duchess, and now back to back. Does winning ever get old in this grand stage?

Murray: Never. This is the most special thing in the world, riding down into these green shavings on Saturday night.

Fenton: And with a crowd like this, they’ve been good to you for a lot of years. Tell me if you would just a little bit, we’ve got some special owners over here. This horse has been a project from day one, when you got him. It looked like on Wednesday night, it might have been the greatest I’ve ever seen him.

Murray: Thank you so much. I do have two wonderful owners, Bill Carrington and Marsha Shepard, and he has been a work in progress, and still is a work in progress, but he’s really doing well for me.

Fenton: Well my friends in center ring were very happy that you selected the rail for the route to the winner’s circle, because I think last year you came pretty close to coming through the middle. Merrill, one of the nicest folks in the American Saddlebred business, we’re always very proud to have you with us.

Murray: I would like to just say a couple words. First of all, I’d like to thank our good Lord for being blessed to be here, all of us, at this horse show. I’d like to thank my farrier, Bob Isham, he’s been a major part in helping get this work in progress going. My veterinarians and my assistant, Chris Brannon has played a major role. And I want to express my appreciation to all those people that have helped me. My wife has stood behind me, listened to all my woes during the process. Thank you, Bonnie.

Fenton: It is certainly a team effort, there’s no doubt about it, let’s send him off to his victory pass. Ladies and gentlemen, Merrill Murray!

This was the point where a great interview turned into a moment that will last a lifetime, not just for all involved, but for all in attendance. As most everyone knows, Bill Carrington was the voice of Freedom Hall for many, many years, calling out some of the most memorable Five-Gaited World’s Grand Champions in history. Now he gets to own one. We pick up with the transcription to pay homage to the moment that people will be talking about years from now. The "Remember when…" moment of Louisville 2010.

Peter Fenton: On a personal note it has been my pleasure, this is my first Saturday night here in Freedom Hall. You’ve been a wonderful crowd, it has been a great experience. I can tell you it’s an honor to announce this horse show. The only thing that I think might be better is to be the owner of the World’s Grand Champion. My friend Bill Carrington was the announcer here for many years, Bill, I’m going to let you send your World’s Grand Champion down victory lane.

With that, Fenton handed the microphone over the rail to Carrington where he was standing in his first row seat. Carrington, who had been gazing down to the winner’s circle at his World’s Grand Champion horse, was caught unaware at first. Put a microphone in that man’s hand, however, and he isn’t going to skip a beat.

Horse Show Announcer Bill Carrington: Thank you, Peter! Ladies and Gentlemen, two times back-to-back he’s the World’s Grand Champion Courageous Lord with Merrill Murray in the saddle. How do you like him, Ladies and Gentlemen. That’s alright, he’ll find it. I’m honored to be standing by a beautiful woman who owns him with me, Marsha Shepard. I’m Bill Carrington, we come from Shelbyville, Tennessee. We are honored to own this great horse, and we are also honored that you like him so much and you cheer for him. Find it somewhere, Merrill, or canter out of the ring, WE DON’T CARE! He’s the World’s Champion, Ladies and Gentlemen, and we are thrilled to be a part of it here in 2010. Courageous Lord back to back World Champion! Thank you so much, Freedom Hall! Good night! And thank you, Peter.

Fenton: I thought I’d never get that microphone back.

How do you make winning a World’s Grand Championship even more special? Just ask Pete Fenton.

Story after story on Saturday night, this one might have been the most heartwarming. Who doesn’t love a great comeback? The Three-Gaited World’s Grand Championship was the site of one of the greatest since Sky Watch, as CH Grande Gil came through with all the heart of a champion to win it all for Misdee Wrigley Miller. Earning the approval of all three judges, Misdee rode to the far end, patting Grande Gil behind the saddle. World’s Grand Champion in 2007 with Neil Visser up, the Kalarama-trained gelding was Reserve World’s Grand Champion in 2008 with Misdee aboard. Since that year, it has been a long and twisting path back to Freedom Hall. Two colic surgeries and three bouts of pneumonia have beset this phenomenal talent in the past two years. A fighter with the heart of a champion, he would not be kept down. He fought all the way back to look as great as ever, giving Misdee Wrigley Miller her first World’s Grand Championship ride. By I’m The Prince, the Happy Valley Farm-bred Grande Gil is out of Steel Hearted Woman, by General Steel. I’m The Prince is a son of Merchant Prince and out of the Foxfire’s Prophet mare, Crowned.

Reserve World’s Grand Championship honors went to Let’s Talk and Dena Lopez. Owned by Dena and Alyssa Lopez, Let’s Talk has had an eventful last year as well. In 2009, he was third in the Ladies Five-Gaited Gelding class. Since then, he has earned a Reserve National Championship, an Over 2 World’s Championship, and now a Reserve World’s Grand Championship in the Three-Gaited division. It’s a kind of "Reverse Samson" effect. He got his hair cut and his powers increased! The Sir William Robert son got a nice ovation from the crowd, as he made one of his best shows to date. Dena Lopez asked him for more and he delivered. It was a "cause celebre" in the old Castle Hills skybox, as Bit Hutcheson, owner of World’s Grand Champion sire I’m The Prince, sat near Tom Galbreath, owner of Reserve World’s Grand Champion sire Sir William Robert. Lexington Champion and a crowd favorite, Romance In New York was third for Matt Shiflet and the ownership team of Kristen Pettry and grandmother Marge Fergusson. They made another top performance for the yellow ribbon. Imperiaptor is another new entry to the walk-trot ranks, having shown gaited here a year ago. High and hingy, he made a rocked back performance in fourth with Mitch Clark up for Laurel Nelson. It’s rather ironic to have Mitch Clark announced as the rider of a horse whose name plays off of "Imperator!"

In the Fine Harness World’s Grand Championship, stories once again abounded. For the second time in the last three years, it was a recently acquired horse winning the highest harness honor. In 2008, Mother Mary had recently been purchased by Richard and Anita Simpson before Sandy Lilly famously drove her to the roses here on Saturday night. Tonight, it was an even more recent acquisition, as in mid-week! Lace’s Last Tango and Priscilla Marconi wrapped up the Ladies Fine Harness World’s Championship on Thursday night in what would be their swan song. New owner Sharyn Lackey had her test drive on Friday morning, and between Friday morning and Saturday night, the decision was made to, as Stefanie Lackey Sanchez put it, "Roll the dice!" If that was a roll of the dice, it was seven come eleven in the Fine Harness Stake, or maybe a poker reference is better, as it was three aces atop the judges cards, a unanimous decision for a horse that worked in harness for the third day in a row, and second major championship in three days.

Jim Lowry made Sharyn Lackey’s decision look incredibly wise, as he made a show for the ages with the brash chestnut gelding by Arborlane Tangos Wee Pee and out of the great CH Sultan’s Leather & Lace. Mainly a Morgan trainer for the majority of his professional life, Jim Lowry burst onto the Saddlebred scene in 2006, three young horse classes here in Freedom Hall. Teamed with wife Fay, Lowry has built an incredible resume and Saddlebred show string in the past four years. Perhaps it is fitting that Lace’s Last Tango and Lowry would win one of the big three stakes in their last dance together. They had teamed up once before on Saturday night, showing in the Three-Gaited World’s Grand Championship in 2007. That was Lowry’s first time showing on Stake Night in Freedom Hall.

The Reserve World’s Grand Championship went back to DeLovely with A Travelin’ Man and Todd Miles for Nancy Bryan. In 28 trips to the show ring, Travelin’ Man had come home with 28 blue ribbons, including six right here on the green shavings. That remarkable streak would have remained intact but for the 11th hour entry of the World’s Grand Champion. Travelin’ Man once again made a high and tight performance, just as he had to win the Fine Harness Stallion/Gelding Stake on Wednesday night. With a world of quality and a ton of athletic ability, he is by Tornaado and out of Travelin’, by Harlem Globemaster. Second in the Ladies qualifier to Lace’s Last Tango, Joe Friday also opted to come back for the big stake, taking third in this class for the second year in a row. Ruth Gimpel was the driver for Helen Rosburg, just as she was for a Reserve World’s Grand Championship in 2008. Wild Carrissima, reserve in the Stallion/Gelding class, was fourth for Jim and Shawn Stachowski. Just watching this horse move you can see Stachowski’s touch, he will be one to watch for in the years to come.

Another newer face in Freedom Hall, Bob Phillips came away with his first World’s Grand Championship, showing Heartland Fortune Maker to the title for Faydelle Schott. Phillips has been an Arabian trainer for most of his professional life, and has recently started working in Saddlebreds and Hackney ponies to his show string. He made his Louisville debut in 2004 with The Grand Master, winning the ASR National Three-Year-Old Park Pleasure Futurity. Heartland Fortune Maker is the first and only pony he has ever shown on the green shavings and the only entry he showed all week. Reserve in this class a year ago, Fortune Maker earned all three first place votes to take home top honors by dropping his back and marching a huge trot as he does time and time again. He was the Junior World’s Champion of Champions in 2008. Another former Junior World’s Champion of Champions, Lord Ovation was reserve with Larry Ella driving for Kathryn Boyd. Also Reserve World’s Grand Champion in 2008, Lord Ovation won it all in 2007 to reign as the top cob-tail pony. Winning driver in this class last year with Heartland High Tech, Maureen Campbell was third with Heartland Rough And Ready, the 2009 Junior World’s Champion of Champions, for Toni Nastali. Heartland Moonglow and Janet Crampton were fourth for Charlotte Wrather, making it three of the top four in this one bred by the Kolkmans’ Heartland Hackney Farm.

The governor of the great Commonwealth of Kentucky, Steve Beshear, greeted the crowd during the lineup of the Hackney Pony Stake, accompanied by his wife, Jane. He spoke of being proud of the equine industry in Kentucky and particularly proud of "our native breed, the American Saddle Horse." It was a nice gesture and well received by the audience. It just happened to come during the lineup of a Hackney pony class!

First up on this star-studded night was the Ladies Three-Gaited Championship. It was the return to this division for 2007 World’s Champion of Champions CH Our Charming Lady. She and Mary Marcum Orr continued their Saturday night streak, winning for the fourth straight year on the last Saturday of August. Two times the World’s Grand Champion, Our Charming Lady has everything you could ask for in a Ladies horse. She is light moving and fine as a deer, primping and prancing down the rail for Jack and Donna Finch. The storied run of Mary Orr and Our Charming Lady is the stuff of legend. It was 34 straight victories before they met the red ribbon for the first time in July at Junior League. They have returned with a vengeance to take a blue ribbon at Blue Ridge and two more here on the green shavings, their seventh and eighth Freedom Hall victory passes.

Also fitting the exact type of a Ladies horse, the Under 2 winner, Heavenly Thunder, was the Reserve World’s Champion of Champions with Nancy Leigh Fisher riding for the Willowbank banner. Ladies Under 2 winner the past three years now, Heavenly Thunder was the Junior World’s Champion of Champions in 2007. In her Freedom Hall career, she has never finished lower than Reserve World’s Champion. In 10 trips over these green shavings, the Attache’s Thunderbolt daughter has seven blue ribbons and three reserve wins. She is out of a Supreme Heir mare, Ursa Major. Amy Dix Rock made some of her best rides this week, including this one aboard Majestic’s Jackie O. They finished in third for the Premier banner. Punch Baby and Jackie Tanner made their customary high in the bridle performance in fourth for Sarah and Joe Benza. Punch Baby was a winner with Tanner as a three and four-year-old here.

The Roadster Pony World’s Grand Championship was another showdown between two very different types of road ponies, with a couple newcomers added to the fight making it even more interesting. Beaulah Jean is a quick-stepping, piston-like type of pony, mincing lightly down the rail and looking like she is going even faster than she already is with her quick turn of foot. Stat, on the other hand, takes long, ground covering, powerful strides, floating across the track. It was Beaulah Jean as the choice once again, winning the World’s Grand Championship for the third year in a row with Jeff McClean driving for Golden Creek Farms. She didn’t quite know what to make of all the racket when her number was called, pausing for a minute before making her way to the winner’s circle with McClean and trainer Tom Lowry. This remarkably consistent pony was Reserve World’s Grand Champion the two years before her three-year-run atop the division began.

Reserve tonight went to Stat and Maureen Campbell for Dr. Chip Pugh. Stat also got a little excited by all the applause, taking more of a leaping than trotting path from the ring, as Rich Campbell came in to grab the reserve ribbon from Ethan Roetman and wave it to the crowd in acknowledgement of their support. "Everyone’s excited," quipped Peter Fenton as Stat left the ring. This was the second year in a row for Stat to earn this title. The 2005 World’s Grand Champion was back in the Open ranks, but with his amateur driver, Kevin Ingram, at the helm for James R. Dellinger Jr. This was CH Calvin Hobbs, three times the Amateur World’s Champion of Champions and winner of the Open 50-52" qualifier earlier in the week. Calvin Hobbs track record at Louisville is rather intriguing, as he has won almost exactly half of the classes he has shown in under these bright lights. Every year but two he has come home with at least one World’s Championship. A winner at Lexington, Moment Of Excellence finished fourth for Larry Ella and Bent Tree Farm.

It was Mary Gaylord McClean making it back to back Saturday night wins for Golden Creek Farms, as she made a picturesque show with Lynn Williams to top the Ladies Five-Gaited Championship. Out of the great Carol Lynn, Lynn Williams is by the Golden Creek stallion, CH Top Spool, winner of the Amateur Five-Gaited World’s Championship in 1999 with Mary in the irons. She was the first of the Carol Lynn daughters to show tonight, with three out of this grand mare showing and all earning titles here in 2010. This incredibly gifted bay mare was the unanimous choice of the judges. She never put a foot out of place or backed an ear, remaining in top form every step of the way, the epitome of a ladies performance. For the sake of saving you the research, there is a two-year-old by Nutcracker and out of Carol Lynn named Carl Lynn, a full sister to Another Lynn named Lynn In Vegas, and a full sister to Lynn Williams named Lynard Skynyrd, which is just an awesome name. Sadly, there won’t be any full siblings to According To Lynn coming down the pike. That ship has sailed for Born To Win.

The Matt Shiflet crew went wild for Phyllis Brookshire and A Different Story, as they were called out for the Reserve World’s Championship. Owned by Don and Phyllis Brookshire, A Different Story has been right there and in the money all year long under the direction of Matt Shiflet. Third in the Ladies Gelding class, they came back tonight and laid it all on the line to take the reserve tri-color in this field of 10. Carol Hillenbrand made a flawless performance with the liver chestnut mare, Callaway’s Cassis, to take third-place honors back to Carriage Lane. Their performance was smooth as silk for the yellow streamers. Third in this class a year ago, Deborah Butler and Pour Some Sugar On Me finished in fourth for Melrose LLC and the DeLovely banner.

One of the most memorable performances of Saturday night will also be a lifelong cherished memory for a hard-riding young lady who had the week of her life here at Louisville 2010. After Midwest Charity, the team behind With Style And Grace, Bob, Kim and Tara Grom, along with Todd Miles and Team DeLovely, started toying with the idea of trimming their beautiful park mare. A win and a reserve in the Amateur Three-Gaited division at Shelbyville let them know they were on the right track. A Tuesday night win in the Amateur Under 2 class made them feel real smart about their decision, but there was no way for them to know what was in store for them on Saturday night. When Tara Grom and With Style And Grace hit the ring on Saturday night it was like they were a whole new team. They had been great together all year long, but tonight, there was something different, there was another level to it. The mare squatted lower, pricked her ears even tighter, tucked her chin just that little bit more. It was breathtaking, and it electrified the crowd. Grace seemed more wound up than ever, but channeled it all into making a statement performance. "I may be Under 2, but I’ll show you what I can do!" So wound up was she that she got a little over-exuberant in trying to take her first canter lead. In any other show ring, at any other horse show, this workout doesn’t get called. But for the World’s Championship, judges Craghead, Champagne and Boggs gave them their shot. They put them back to the rail with the one and only two-time defending Amateur World’s Champion of Champions and two-time Ladies World’s Champion of Champions Marching Orders. Barbara Goodman Manilow, a veteran of these walk-trot battles and many a Louisville workout, went back to the rail first, with Style And Grace and Tara Grom being called out as the second half of an epic two-horse workout.

"When our number was called for the workout, it was as if she knew she was being put to the test," said Tara Grom after the fact. "She wasn’t going to let anything stop her. My heart was racing. I knew we had to give it our all. Hearing the crowd and having their support while showing such an amazing and talented horse was unforgettable, the best ride of my life!" It certainly was, and it most certainly had to be. As Tara said, the crowd got into it, and it made for an electrifying atmosphere that only Freedom Hall can provide. They carried her up one rail and down the other, lifting this team to surreal heights. Style And Grace will never be considered to have a shortage of gameness, and it served her well tonight. With style, grace, and so much more, she and Tara Grom were the unanimous choice of the judges, as Mark Turner and Karen Medicus made the run to the winner’s circle. A National Champion in Park Pleasure, a World’s Champion in Fine Harness, and now a World’s Champion in Three-Gaited. This Sir William Robert mare can seemingly do it all.

Winners of the Amateur Over 2 Stake, CH Marching Orders and Barbara Goodman Manilow finished as Reserve World’s Champion of Champions. In their 12 Louisville appearances, they have won nine World’s Championships. Their first Ladies World’s Championship came in Marching Orders’ four-year-old campaign. He was a World’s Champion the two years before that as well, giving him a total of 11 world titles. The two-time defending champ did not go down without a fight, he went out swinging tonight for sire Merchant Prince and his Caramac-sired dam, Callaway’s Finders Keepers. Ali Judah made yet another impressive ride aboard Gossip Girl to earn a very strong third-place finish for Dr. Meg Knowles. They have been right near the top of every class they have entered this year for the Visser Stables team. The Amateur Gentlemen’s winner, CH Heathermoor’s Prince, looked every bit the part, taking fourth with Gabe Deknatel for Nikki Barone and normal jockey, Emily Druckman.

Following the amateur walk-trots there was a video tribute to longtime World’s Championship Horse Show Manager Bill Munford, who passed away earlier this year. It was an emotional moment in Freedom Hall, as Munford was one of the most beloved figures in the Saddlebred world. Ask someone to tell you a story about Bill Munford, and chances are they will know of one that will illustrate the man’s heart and humor. His Wing Commander Medallion, the highest honor that the ASHA can bestow, lies in peace with him, pinned to his lapel for eternity. Pete Fenton choked up as he spoke of the man who he worked for and beside for many years, fighting to maintain his composure as he prepared to call the next class.

The World’s Grand Champion driver in the Harness Pony Stake almost didn’t make it onto the show grounds! With the help of a Good Samaritan, she got through the gates and into the viceroy to win her first World’s Grand Championship title in a storied career. Everyone that has been to Louisville is familiar with the ticket system. You get your tickets with a entrance gate pass attached to the bottom. You can also get a book of just gate passes. Well when you leave the room with neither of these things and no cash, it makes it difficult to get into the fair, as Lynda Freseth was quickly going to find out! Here came Patrick Gallagher to the rescue. The son of Dr. J.R. Gallagher, a customer of the Durants, Patrick is also close friends with Bret and Susi Day, close friends of Andy and Lynda Freseth. Oh the beauty of mutual acquaintances and our close-knit horse show family. While he didn’t have gate passes, a small loan sufficed, and Freseth made it in plenty of time to drive Heartland Expectation to a wonderful display of long-tail elegance. World’s Grand Champion in 2007 and 2008 with longtime partner Karen Frickey at the lines, Expectation was once again right on top of his game, though he did lose his blanket of flowers in the victory pass and had to pause for a moment for them to be readjusted. Owned by Priscilla Gise, Expectation was driven to the Amateur World’s Championship in 2009 by Mary Gise. He made it four years in a row to wear a tri-color and blanket of flowers here at the Kentucky State Fair.

For the second year in a row, two full brothers finished second and third. Once again it was The Remington earning the Reserve World’s Grand Championship with the ever-lovely Juliet McDonald driving for T.J. and Juliet McDonald and the Majestic Oaks team. By Twin Willow’s McMillan and out of Twin Willow’s Arianna, The Remington is a bundle of energy and excitement every time he hits the ring with his light bay coloring and lots of chrome. Full brother Twin Willow’s Handsome Dan was once again third for Jeff McClean and the Golden Creek Farms. Stallion/Gelding winner Spencer was fourth with Randy Harper driving for Karen Frickey.

Speaking of equine brothers, it was a moving scene in the Roadster to Bike World’s Grand Championship, as Raymond Shively claimed his (insert really big number here) Roadster to Bike world title. Perhaps even the Master of Faster himself couldn’t count them all, but we’re willing to bet he would have a pretty good idea. Just a month ago, it was going to be Tyler Miles showing Emerson in the Youth Roadster to Bike class here at Louisville, which helps explain why his name was up in lights under Emerson’s on the scoreboards. But in late July, tragedy struck DeLovely, as the great five-time defending World’s Grand Champion and one of the greatest road horses of all time, Big Red, passed away. Big Red’s blood brother, Emerson, would pick up where his older chestnut brother had left off, with Raymond Shively hollering all the way down the rail to take a unanimous victory. "This one’s for Big Red," said Peter Fenton as the bay gelding shot down the final rail on his round of honor. Raymond’s back number with Emerson, 1160, was one number higher than Big Red’s listed number in the program, 1159.

Making three Freedom Hall appearances for the second year in a row, Mr’s Bones took another shot at the Open title with Charlie Jones in the bike. Amateur World’s Champions on Tuesday morning and Reserve World’s Champion of Champions on Friday night, Jones and Bones loaded back up for one more go, showing back to back nights once again. This year they moved up a slot to earn the Reserve World’s Grand Championship, taking it back to Jonestown, Pennsylvania. They reigned as Amateur World’s Champion of Champions in 2008 and 2009. Belle Starr made a quick turnaround as well, finishing third in the big stake after winning the lion’s share of the prize money in the USTA Roadster Classic. Melinda Moore was once again at the lines of this quick-footed mare. The popular IAmNotACow finished fourth with Jon Walker driving for Debra Clark.

The winners of the three Amateur qualifiers blasted down the chute to vie for the Amateur Five-Gaited Championship as the first of three classes remaining on the Saturday night program. Amateur Mare winner Ava Gardner was in and putting on her usual sterling show with Ashley Alden. CH Breaking News, the Amateur Stallion/Gelding winner, always knows he is at home in Freedom Hall, his name is on the wall after all. He was working hard and strong as always for Megan McClure. Gabe Deknatel and The Daily Lottery, winners in the Amateur Gentlemen’s class, were ready to impress the Saturday night crowd as well. It has been exactly a decade since the Amateur Gentlemen’s winner has gone on to claim the Amateur Five-Gaited World’s Championship, but it was John Conatser stepping through the side gate and punching the air, letting loose with an emphatic, "YEAH!" as he jogged to greet The Daily Lottery and Gabe Deknatel in victory lane. Ten years ago it was Tom D. Pettry winning this class with Callaway’s Frank James. Gabe came close two years later finishing as the Reserve World’s Champion of Champions with Callaway’s Weatherman. He put on a clinic tonight, building steam as the class wore on, getting better and better with the phenomenally talented entry of High Hickory Farm.

The beautiful bay mare, Ava Gardner, gave her all as the Reserve World’s Champion of Champions, making a "little engine that could" show. This CF First Night Out mare has all the power of an open horse packed into this pristinely petite package. She looks veritably bursting at the seams with show horse energy under the direction of Tammy DeVore. Ashley Alden once again made a phenomenal ride aboard the Alden Farms entry. Two times the Amateur Mare World’s Champions, they were National Champions in 2009 after a memorable workout. Megan McClure put together a great ride, getting every last bit out of her grand champion, Breaking News. They finished third here after winning their first Amateur World’s Championship together in the Stallion/Gelding class on Tuesday night. Amy Dix Rock capped off a week she should be quite proud of, making another strong ride aboard Turning The Page. By Belle Reve’s Renaissance Man and out of CH My Front Page Lady, Turning The Page was bred for Saturday night, as her dam was six times the winner of the Ladies Three-Gaited World’s Championship.

Before the cob-tails came to the ring, Peter Fenton called attention to the lady on his left, Beth Snider, working her 20th year in center ring at the World’s Championship Horse Show. Tabulating every one of the over 240 classes on the week, if it weren’t for Beth Snider’s skill, this would be an even longer horse show. Beth makes horse shows better. They run more smoothly when she is involved, doing all of the little things that can so easily get overlooked. As Peter Fenton said, "We couldn’t do it without her."

With that our Saturday night storytelling draws to a close. We will see you again daily in November at the UPHA/American Royal National Championships. If you enjoyed our coverage of the 107th World’s Championship Horse Show or have a way we could serve our readers better, drop us a line and let us know either at our website, or our Facebook page,

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