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Louisville - Wednesday Evening

It was a spectacular rendition of the National Anthem that started the proceedings on Wednesday night. While it sounded like it had to be a recording, as every note was pitch perfect, it was indeed a live performance by an extraordinarily talented young man.

The call came from Steve Buttleman to start the night, and the Ladies Three-Gaited Over 15.2 came to the ring with a group of 23 on the list. Even Jacques Marais had a smile on his face, joined by Glenn T. Werry, who always has a smile on his face, in the winner’s circle. They were there to greet the winner of this one, Lisa Strickland. Lisa had one of those horses that comes in the ring and you say, “Who is THAT?!” This punched up bay was as fine as could be and looked the epitome of a ladies horse. He had every bit of quality you could wish for and looked just a little bit like that cool gaited pleasure horse Lisa trains for Diane Nyhammer. Oh but wait. It was. Making a debut as a walk-trot, Jett Rink made the Strickland Stables team look flat brilliant, absolutely loving his new job and striking a pose in the winner’s circle for his first World’s Championship. Long a gaited pleasure horse, he and owner Diane Nyhammer were the Masters Five-Gaited Pleasure Champions at Midwest Charity last year. This new division, however, looks to be the deal for Jett Rink. It was a tremendous way to open up “Ladies Night” on the green shavings. One of the top contenders coming in, Kentucky Proud did not disappoint, leaving as the Reserve World’s Champion with Ceil Wheeler. The entry of Ceil and Kenny Wheeler is by Undulata’s Nutcracker and out of Enchanting Elizabeth. The Open Three-Gaited Over 15.2 World’s Champion a year ago with trainer Smith Lilly, Kentucky Proud went on to claim the Ladies Three-Gaited National Championship. Tammie Conatser had Undulata’s Secret Rendezvous in top order for Rose Arbor Farm in third. Maya Manilow took on the adult crew with Glenview’s Excelalante! for fourth.

Born On The Bayou kept the family business going, winning another world title for the Sugarland/Mardi Gras family. Maureen Campbell has taken this wonderfully talented pony to the ring in every one of her classes. The entry of Denise and Meredithe Steinhauer is one of just 10 ponies ever sired by the great Sugarland, also a denizen of Majestic Oaks. The two-time defending UPHA Road Pony Classic National Champion looked plenty ready to take on the aged competition, winning this 50”-and-Under Road Pony World’s Championship. Moment Of Excellence made them work for it in reserve. Larry Ella made another good drive for the Bent Tree Farm. They had been winners of this class for the last three years, earning this Reserve World’s Championship also now for the third time. Moment Of Excellence is by Mark Of Excellence and out of Keep The Spirit, by Rhythm’s Spirit. Crystal Creek’s Springtime and Eduardo Lopez were a good third here for Carl and Kathryn Nichols, followed by To Be Or Not To Be and Georgia Blevins.

It was a wildly entertaining edition of the Fine Harness Stallion/Gelding Stake, as Nutcracker’s Nirvana and Wild Carrissima resumed their rivalry of a year ago. Nirvana has not been in the show ring since leaving as a Reserve World’s Grand Champion last year. He avenged that loss tonight with a unanimous victory with Jim Stachowski. By Undulata’s Nutcracker and out of Kingwood’s Harlem Harlem, he established himself in good position to potentially be the first World’s Grand Champion sired by Nutcracker. Showing for wife Shawn Stachowski, Jimmy had Nirvana tuned to perfection. He never dropped an ear and never lost that wonderful hinge to his neck. That’s the kind of show that has to be made to get by the three-time defending World’s Grand Champion. Bret Day certainly won’t take this one lying down with CH Wild Carrissima. You don’t win a World’s Grand Championship three years in a row without learning how to deal with some adversity. They will be back and primed for a Saturday night showdown not to be missed! Dr. Chip Pugh has to be proud of the effort put forth by his team tonight, as it took a herculean effort to best this team, their first time ever to leave Freedom Hall with a prize other than blue. Lionel Ferreira had the third-place finisher in Talk Is Money for Susan Swope.

A World’s Champion as a three-year-old, Gothic Revival got a fitting sendoff from the show ring here tonight with a Louisville retirement ceremony. Joan Adler drove her favorite horse with a white blanket of roses over his shoulders tonight under the direction of Martin Teater. Joan was three times a Reserve World’s Champion with the son of Revival and Allusion, by CH Foxfire’s Prophet. He now retires to the life of luxury as a breeding stallion, led out of the ring to retirement by Melody Adler.

What a special, special group of 14-17 three-gaited horses we were witness to on this Wednesday night, beginning with another bigtime green shavings showdown in the first split. Catherine Wheeler made one of her best rides on this biggest of stages, claiming all three first place votes with CH Swing An Singin. An entry of Ceil and Kenny Wheeler, Swing An Singin is trained by Smith Lilly. The exquisite dark bay mare has been unbeaten all year with Catherine, winning their Louisville qualifier here a year ago as well. The 2011 Reserve World’s Grand Champion is by Designed and out of Reedann’s Supreme Glow, by Supreme Heir. CH A Travelin’ Man and Juliette Dell, champions at Midwest Charity earlier this year took a Reserve World’s Championship in their first trip on the green shavings. Juliette was presented with Travelin’ Man last year right here on stake night back at the DeLovely stalls, where she tearfully thanked her parents and the DeLovely team. She finished out the season aboard “T Man” with three straight wins, putting in a great winter of work to come out rockin’ all year long. Caroline Rainbolt Forbes took it to ‘em in third with Watermark’s A Kiss For Luck for the Rainbow Princess Farms, with Ready To Jet and Laura Plant fourth for Jack and Donna Finch.

The long and fine star of many a cob-tail battle, Heartland High Tech was back on top of this division as the World’s Champion in the Hackney Pony Stake. Ali DeGray looked like Christmas with her red hair flowing and a forest green dress that was about as perfect a choice for a viceroy as there could be. Amateur champions at Lexington this year in their first show together since 2010, Ali and High Tech look made for each other. High Tech was also the winner of this class in 2011 with Ruth Gimpel. He was the World’s Grand Champion in 2009, setting himself up to make a run at that title again here on Saturday night. From the Bent Tree Farm string, Raymonda was the Reserve World’s Champion with Larry Ella. Another top pony by Mark Of Excellence, Raymonda is out of Escapade, by Mark Of Success. That makes Raymonda a full sister to the great Par Excellence. She is coming into her own here in her nine-year-old year, her second as a cob-tail. Heartland News Leader and Connie Smith were a good third for Beth Jones.

CH Bravo Blue came in the ring and looked at his name up on the wall. Apparently that pride led him to decide to make his best show yet with Elisabeth Goth. The 2012 World’s Grand Champion was an absolute star to win a tremendous Ladies Five-Gaited Gelding class in unanimous style. Trained by Neil Visser, Bravo Blue’s transition to an amateur rider is complete, but Elisabeth is no everyday amateur. Winner of three World’s Grand Championships, Elisabeth has more big open wins to her credit than most trainers will have in their lives. She took on a slew of top ladies, both amateur and professional, to score this bigtime blue. Sired by Northern Blues and out of Amp Leigh, the big gelding was champion of this ladies division at Midwest Charity as well. The reigning World’s Champion of Champions in this division, He’s In Style has stepped into his new role as a kids horse this season for Emma Sanchez. Champion at JD Massey and Roanoke, He’s In Style has done very well in his new job. Kim Cowart took over on the green shavings tonight however, as she rode the entry of Sharyn Lackey to the Reserve World’s Championship. He’s In Style is by Deep Blue and out of She’s In Style, by Desert’s Supreme Memories. He has three times been a winner in this ring, twice last year with Kim and again in 2011 with Tracy James Rossouw as the ASR National Three-Year-Old Five-Gaited Futurity winner.

In a much-anticipated Open Three-Gaited Over 15.2 Stake, Larry Hodge set the table for what should be an incredible walk-trot stake with a unanimous win aboard HS Baby Steps. The dark, dark chestnut with a lot of chrome impressed all three judges in this good group for Misdee Wrigley Miller. Champions at Asheville this year, Larry and Baby Steps were the Junior Fine Harness World’s Champions just last year, while the mare also won the year before that as the ASR Three-Year-Old Fine Harness National Futurity winner. By Sir William Robert, Baby Steps is out of I Am The Dream, a full sister to the Broodmare Hall of Famer, A Daydream Believer. This class was a rematch of the over two at Lexington, as My Hail Mary earned the Reserve World’s Championship with Smith Lilly. Owned by WoodLea Farm, My Hail Mary was twice a winner on The Red Mile this year, taking this class as well as the Three-Gaited Championship. Smith Lilly’s catchphrase is “Happy Horses Trot Higher,” and My Hail Mary looks like a happy girl. She was the Ladies Three-Gaited Over 15.2 World’s Champion and Ladies Reserve World’s Champion of Champions last year, making a run at the biggest of prizes here this time around. Robert Gardiner had The Red Hot Kid rocked way back to take third for High Spirits Farm, with Callaway’s Taylor Swift and Todd Miles in fourth for Ashlyn Farms.

There were a total of 41 horses on the class sheets in the Ladies Three-Gaited division tonight, with 23 entered in the over two and 18 in the under. Only 16 of those qualify to show back, and any of those 16 that were taking the “two qualifiers and done for the week” route won’t be there on Saturday night. It’s why these ladies qualifiers are almost always more thrilling than the ladies stake. This one was loaded with great ones, including the greatest of them all for the past three years, CH Mr. Center Stage. He took his seventh consecutive Louisville win in this Ladies Three-Gaited 15.2-and-Under class, with Mary Gaylord McClean putting in another good ride for Golden Creek Farms. Rob and Sarah Byers ran to the winner’s circle once again with the horse that is unbeaten anywhere in this ladies division in over two years. Beautiful and bright, he is by Deep Blue and out of Daphne Dearest, by CH Caramac. It was a pair of Reserve World’s Championships this week for Dr. Nancy Chauvin. Red has been the color for Nancy and Undulata’s Just Perfect so far in their first season together, as they are consistently at the top of every class. They have really turned it on this week for the DeLovely banner, taking the reserve win in the amateur under two as well. They were twice reserve at Midwest and took another great reserve prize at Blue Ridge. Just Perfect could not be any more hinged up in the bridle without putting her chin through her chest. She is by Undulata’s Nutcracker and out of the wonderful World’s Champion walk-trot, CH Undulata’s Perfect Gift ERB, a Broodmare Hall of Famer. Heavenly Thunder has produced an excellent replica of herself for Nancy Leigh Fisher to show. She did just that aboard Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut in third. Undulata’s Susan McGee and Barbour Childress looked pretty as good be in fourth from Matt Shiflet Stables.

The speed picked up for the Open Roadster Under Saddle, a prime time showing for what was once long ago a spectacle and a highlight each and every year. While the division has not seen huge numbers in recent history, it was ON tonight! A field of 11 signed up to storm down the chute, and they put on a show for the assembled crowd. Against an even bigger and better field, it was the amateur rider pulling through in this one for the second year in a row aboard Show Me The Money. This is the division for Brian. He seems to have a passion and love for it, and he is really really good at it. Since 2009, he has won 10 times in this ring on road horses. Melody Adler’s newest road horse acquisition, Chanteur PV, made his under saddle debut on the green shavings, finishing second with Andre van Schalkwyk. This big mover was also reserve at Harrodsburg in his first ever under saddle class. He was the Roadster to Bike Reserve World’s Grand Champion just last year. B-52 and Scott Hagan were third, with Wellington Hall and Kristen Bagdasarian in fourth.

The Fine Harness World’s Grand Championship could blow the roof off Freedom hall on Saturday night as the Fine Harness Mare Stake was another phenomenal affair, following hot on the heels of the stallion/gelding class earlier tonight. Nelson Green has forgotten more than most will ever know about working a harness horse. He had Trust My Imagination in high style for the win here for B&T Vonderschmitt LLC. Unbeaten together, Nelson and Trust My Imagination have been champions at Asheville, Rock Creek, and Shelbyville this year. She is by Trust Fund and out of Titleist Imagination. If she wasn’t so incredible in the bridle, she would likely hit herself in the nose with her wild front action. Jim Stachowski was attempting the sweep of the harness qualifiers at the lines of Isabella DaVinci and came close to getting it done. A Three-Year-Old Fine Harness Mare World’s Champion in the only other class she has shown in, Isabella is by County Treasure and out of none other than the mare Jim won this very class with, The DaVinci Code. They were Reserve World’s Champions tonight. Two classes in her career have led to two world titles for owners Shawn and Ava Stachowski, Ava’s second world title as an owner this week. Roselane’s Clemency continued Lisa Strickland’s good night in third for Ready for the Limelight LLC, while Tory Burch and Bret Day were up for fourth for Elizabeth Ghareeb. The way Saturday night is setting up, there will not be a single “bathroom break” class on the list! This wild moving mare goes in against the big black stallion and the three-time World’s Grand Champion in what will be an electric environment.

Mary Gaylord McClean had a pretty special Wednesday night. She took a second victory pass in the Ladies Five-Gaited Mare class with a horse that looks as good if not better than ever this year, Lynn Williams. She looked like a dream in bay with blue streamers in tow, leaving the ring last for Golden Creek Farms. Premier Stables trains this one for Mary as well. Lynn Williams is of course a homebred product of the Golden Creek breeding program. She is by the stud that Mary won the amateur gaited stake with, CH Top Spool, and out of her incomparable Broodmare Hall of Famer, Carol Lynn. Reserve in this class a year ago, she was smoking hot tonight for the World’s Championship. Another bred and owned entry, Fox Grape’s Sierra Madre has blossomed in her five-year-old season to take on the aged horses well. A Reserve World’s Champion for the second year in a row now, Sierra Madre is by Undulata’s Nutcracker and out of the grand gaited mare, Himalaya. The 2012 UPHA Five-Gaited Classic National Champion, Sierra Madre was shown by Fox Grape’s own Dr. Owen Weaver to the Ladies Championship at Bonnie Blue earlier this year, with trainer Tiffany Wheeler making the game ride tonight. We talked to Owen in our ReporTV interview on Tuesday night, and this was exactly what we discussed. Two grand horses showing for the people who bred and raised them. Get in the game, folks! Take that grand show mare of yours and find the right cross for her. The tools are out there to do the research. Help us create a supply for the burgeoning demand. Debbie Foley was third in this class with Stand Out Star, showing for Debbie Gabbert. Kristen Bagdasarian made a quick turnaround to take a white ribbon in fourth here as well aboard Tango Mango.

Twin Willow’s Handsome Dan won the sibling rivalry tonight in the Harness Pony Stallion/Gelding Stake. It was a good night for parents Twin Willow’s McMillan and Twin Willow’s Arianna, as their two sons duked it out in this one. Jeff McClean drove down victory lane with Handsome Dan for a second straight win on the night for Golden Creek Farms. Now nine times a winner here, this was his first time to ever show in this open class. The curvy black stud pony also has a World’s Champion son here on the grounds in Handsome Harry. Full brother The Remington was the Reserve World’s Champion with John Wrather driving for Charlotte Wrather. Majestic Oaks trains this bay pony with plenty of white. They were winners of this class a year ago, going on to claim the Reserve World’s Grand Championship. Susi Day made her first Louisville appearance since 2006 (a Reserve World’s Championship with Wrapped In Roses WRF incidentally) to finish third at the lines of Michigan’s Striking Image for Dr. Chip Pugh.

Courtney McGinnis is now five for five with the great CH Platinum Moon. In this their first season together, they have taken tricolor rides at Bridlespur and Asheville so far, hitting their stride once again here in August for Fish Creek Stables and DeLovely. By Periaptor and out of Harlem’s Moondance, Platinum Moon was the 14-17 World’s Champion of Champions a year ago with Hunter Chancellor. The year prior he was the Three-Gaited World’s Grand Champion with Danny Lockhart. Tonight it was Section Two of 14-17 Three-Gaited that had him picking up a fourth Louisville win, doing it in unanimous fashion. Kara Hachigian was smiling from ear to ear as the crowd saluted her in reserve aboard CH Hi On Heir. The big going chestnut gelding put all of his chrome to good use tonight under the direction of Sandra Currier. Winners at Midwest Charity earlier this year, Kara and Hi On Heir are just plain fun to watch. They both look like they love what they do and continue to do it well. Frankie Sue Snider made a great ride in third with Lulu Guiness, followed by Reedann’s Fantastic Design and Jade Woods, making a great catch ride in fourth for Shields and Associates.

Tradition is such a double-edged sword. “That’s the way we’ve always done it,” might be the most dangerous phrase in the English language. Heads can get buried in the sand while the world flies by because people want to stick to tradition. But you know what’s pretty cool? This writer has been coming to Louisville since 1986. You know what class was the last one on Wednesday night? The gelding stake. You know what the last class was on Tuesday? The mares. And guess what happened on Monday night? The studs. And you look forward to each and every one of those classes each and every year, because you want to see what’s in store for you on Saturday night. You want to formulate in your brain what that workout is going to look like. You can’t wait. Because it’s Louisville. And there is nothing else like it in the world.

As that wonderful tradition holds, the geldings came stomping down into Freedom Hall to position themselves for Saturday night glory. The crowd picked up on the winner on his first way rack and carried him all the way home as the unanimous Five-Gaited Gelding World’s Champion. This was the first time since he won the Junior Five-Gaited World’s Championship that CH The Daily Lottery has shown in an open class here. Some long-haired dude named Gabe expertly rode him for a few years since then. Tonight, it was Peter Cowart making the top ride for Ray and Nancy Hawley. West Wind knows how to get a kids or amateur horse cranked back up to compete against the open horses. That was certainly proved in 2008 with World’s Grand Champion Breaking News. Peter Cowart won the crowd over again tonight with this flying blur of a chestnut gelding. This rematch of the Five-Gaited Jackpot Stake at JD Massey saw Matt Shiflet finishing reserve this time with Roselane’s Angelo. The Lexington champion made a valiant show in his first trip out under the new ownership of Janet Kellett. By Buck’s Co-Star and out of Angela Lane, by Prize Contender, Angelo has taken on the very best of the best competition all season long, having been beaten just twice now. Once was by the reigning World’s Grand Champion and the other time here tonight by a reigning World’s Champion of Champions. He is the real deal and will have plenty of fans in his corner on Saturday night. Clark Clouse made a great show with Bodidly to be a solid third for Nancy Bryan, while Robert Gardiner and I’m A Blues Man finished fourth in this good class with a beautiful slow gait and rack for Carolyn Moore Miller. 

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