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Louisville - Sunday Evening

It’s hard to believe we were all gathered again in Louisville for the Big Dance. The 105th edition of the World’s Championship Horse Show got underway with a mix of emotions. The new indoor stabling in the North Wing – connected to Freedom Hall and adjacent to Stopher Walk – was a shining star for the Kentucky State Fair, which hasn’t always been “horse show friendly.” The new wing eliminated the many less than ideal tents and had trainers and exhibitors alike excited to be here. Then early this morning the word spread that show manager Scarlett Mattson’s 21-year-old grandson had been killed in a car accident Saturday night.

Announcer Peter Fenton opened this evening’s session with a moment of silence for the Mattson family and asked that her Saddlebred family keep them in their thoughts and prayers.

As it has for many years now, the ASR Futurity of Kentucky Weanling opened the show with 25 babies and their handlers in quest of the first world’s champion title of 2008. And as it has been for three years now, Joan Lurie had the winning entry and for the second consecutive year it was an Undulata’s Nutcracker baby. Owned by Willowbank Farm and McGlothlin Heir Services LLC, I’m In Heaven modeled perfectly and had every right to be a world’s champion as he is by the world’s champion producing Undulata’s Nutcracker and out of last year’s Junior Three-Gaited World’s Champion Of Champions Heavenly Thunder.

The reserve world’s champion weanling was also out of a world’s champion mare and by a world’s champion producing stallion. Kathy Capsuto-Walker’s I Am The Storm was by world’s champion Sir William Robert and out of world’s champion CH Dancing Up A Storm LLC. Sir William Robert was also listed as the sire of the third place finisher, Walterway’s Watch Me who was presented by Smith Lilly for Larry Hartsock and J.C. Pierce.

At major shows across the country this year there has been a rejuvenation of the fine harness division and that continued with Louisville’s first harness class, the Kentucky County Fair Championship. There were nine entries, several with world titles to their credit, but when it was all said and done, Mary Gaylord McClean in her flowing gown guided Midwest and Lexington winner Cherished King to the winner’s circle. Trainer Melissa Moore headed the former Two-Year-Old Three-Gaited World’s Champion. Reserve to the champion was world’s champion Coco Loco, the powerful gelding shown by John Conatser for Fritz and Candace Meili.

It was back to back classes for Golden Creek Farms as Jeff McClean drove Mastercraft’s Promoter LF to his first world title, a unanimous Kentucky County Fair Harness Pony Championship. This was the third consecutive year Golden Creek won the Harness Pony Championship. A reserve world’s title and a good round of applause went to last year’s Junior Harness Pony Reserve World’s Champion Of Champions The Remington and Juliet McDonald who enjoyed her first drive ever in Freedom Hall. They were put in the ring by the Majestic Oaks team of Rich Campbell and Maureen Lydon.

Kalarama’s Personality Plus wasn’t nearly as excited about the roses signifying the World’s Champion Kentucky County Fair Three Gaited winner as trainer Tiffany Wheeler and owners STJ Partners were, but nonetheless the Kalarama Cabernet son made the final pass over five challengers. Among them was reserve champion Simbara’s Bountiful who added to an already successful season for Kristen Bagdasarian.

The burgundy silks of Toni Nastali turned out to be the winning colors in the nine-entry Kentucky County Fair Road Pony Championship. The veteran team of Nastali and Heartland Victory Maker are in their first year with Rich Campbell and Maureen Lydon and they had them tuned to perfection for roses. This championship was a one, two, three sweep for the Kolkman family’s Heartland Hackney breeding program as last year’s champions Heartland Flurry and Jerry Cummins were reserve and the new team of Heartland Sundust and Connie Smith were third.

Several of the best of the 2007 American Saddlebred crop filled the Freedom Hall ring for the 22-entry ASR Kentucky Of Futurity Yearling class. With more than $25,000 in total prize money on the line, it was a competitive class of fine yearlings. It was dÈj‡ vu as Joan Lurie and an Undulata’s Nutcracker offspring visited the winner’s circle just as they did in the Weanling Futurity. This time Lurie and Darrell Case were showing Nutoroius (Undulata’s Nutcracker x Heir Spray by Supreme Heir) for Morgan trainer Peggy Alderman and her husband Phil.

Alderman was branching out into Saddlebreds and had gone to Willowbank to purchase a stud fee to Undulata’s Nutcracker when she saw the three-week-old Nutorious. “He made my heart flutter. I called Phil and told him about this amazing black stud colt. I used all the right manly descriptions to convince Phil we should buy him,” Alderman chuckled. The Aldermans took home more than $12,000 in prize money for that decision.

Reserve world’s champion honors went the way of Ringo’s Mr. Tambourine Man a product of Amateur Fine Harness World’s Champion Of Champions Call Me Ringo and the winning gaited mare Lucky Vision. Tre Lee presented the reserve world’s champion for Belle Reve Farm. Ramon Gomez and Blythewood Farm were at it again with third place finisher One Only.

We returned to the Kentucky County Fair Championships with the road horse to bike division. It was a good class of speedsters and many in the crowd were extremely happy when Jennifer Robertson and 2006 reserve world’s champion Rum’s Last Shot were called out as the world’s champions. Trainer/father Jimmy Robertson was so happy he was busting out of his iconic suspenders right there in center ring. Delivering another strong performance, Fed Ex and Mike Felty were reserve for Deborah Butler.

For the first time in six years there was a different winner of the Kentucky County Fair Hackney Pony Championship. General Mills was the five-time champion but was not in tonight’s action, as he unexpectedly died this past winter. Driving for the memory of her dear friend and former trainer, the late Bruce Dixon, Sandra Surber delivered the winning drive with the multi-titled Heartland Candidate. This made two of three County Fair Pony Championships for the Majestic Oaks training team this evening. Geof Dixon presented Heartland Summer Storm to the reserve title for Betty and Warren Featherston.

The first night of the 2008 World’s Championship Horse Show came to a close with the 10-horse Kentucky County Fair Five-Gaited Championship. Several of the state’s top trainers were on hand and when the cards were turned in, number 1465 was at the top of all three. Tammy Devore and Thunderstorm Warning emerged from the pack to take the unanimous decision for Martha Pope. Thunderstorm Warning’s trainer as a young horse, Kris Knight was reserve aboard Vicki Reed’s Last Serenade with a good showing, while Mike Spencer and The Big Storm got a good hand for their third place finish.

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