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Louisville - Wednesday Night

A star-studded schedule was set for Wednesday evening with a pair of well-filled ladies five-gaited classes, the refined three-gaited horses, the elegant Hackneys, the dynamic classes of fine harness and the exciting five-gaited gelding qualifier among others. The evening ended with even more bling and glitz as the Saddlebred Café in the North Wing was transformed into a discoteque for the Disco Extravaganza fundraiser for the Saddlebred Museum. Jimmy Robertson was crowned the disco king for his awesome mixing as one of the celebrity DJ’s while others were strutting in everything from go-go boots and feather boas to gold lame.

Before all the extravagance began the evening kicked off with the elegant Ladies Three-Gaited Over 15.2 taking center stage. From a field of 10 it was a perfect ride for Betsy Thomas as she guided the handsome CH New York’s Perfect Gift to the unanimous victory. Stonecroft Nightlight with Faye Lowry was stunning as they marched around the ring for the reserve title for Karrie Graham and Dwaine Kinderknecht. The rising star Callaway’s Blue Ginger was in for a strong third with Melissa Moore presenting for Hy Horse Farm.

The Amateur Ladies Harness Pony was not only one of the largest harness pony classes you will see, it was one of the best. A tried and true performer, especially in Freedom Hall, 2008 World’s Grand Champion Heartland Expectation did not disappoint this season’s new driver Mary Gise. The team was stellar with Expectation living up to his expectations and park trotting right to the top with the well-matched and well-dressed Gise. Another new combination this season is Last Call and Mary Gaylord McClean. Victoriously debuting at Midwest, they teamed up for the reserve tonight. The veteran team of Sweetheart Of Success and Karen Waldron did not make it easy for these two teams as they had a beautiful drive garnering the yellow streamers along with a first place vote.

There may have only been five stallions and geldings make the gate call for their fine harness stake but it was five first-class ones. Castledream came in ready to show and with Larry Hodge at the lines he marched down the rail with his lofty park trot earning the blue ribbon unanimously. The celebrated performer and sire Sir William Robert was back to Freedom Hall, somewhere he had not been since his ASHA National Futurity win in the 2002 with Steve Joyce. This trip it was Darrell Case on the lines of the gorgeous stallion, and with the crowd’s approval they picked up the red ribbon for C. Thomas Galbreath. With a quick switch Mary Gaylord McClean was right back down the chute this time with Cherished King making a confident drive for the top three spot.

The junior exhibitors made their first appearance of the evening in section one of the 14-17 three-gaited. Besting the field of 13 was CH Callaway’s Merry-Go-Round with the talented catch rider Tyler Miles. Miles had the expressive Merry-Go-Round making pass after pass to the victory for Dorchester Farms LLC. Faye Wuesthofen had the bright Heir To A Star looking better than ever with his head high and legs waving for the reserve title with a first place vote for Glenn Werry. CH Ostentatiously and Brittany McGinnis rounded out the top three of this star-studded class.

The ponies were back this time for the Hackney Pony Stallion/Gelding Stake with eight entries on the schedule. Just as earlier in the evening it was a class of classes as one nice pony after another marched down the ramp. In another return to Freedom Hall having not appeared on the green shaving since he was three, Heartland High Tech seemed to glide around the ring never missing a beat and never moving his head with refinement and elegance. After the 2004 season, the stallion has been busy on the breeding front for Darrel and Sandy Kolkman’s Heartland Hackney Farm, but this year, under the watchful eye of Rich Campbell and with the talented Maureen Campbell at the whip, the pony has amazed crowds from Bonnie Blue to Blue Ridge and tonight was no exception as he unanimously captured the title. No stranger to success 2008’s Junior World’s Champion of Champions Heartland Fortune Maker known too for his impeccable form and headset earned the reserve title with Bob Phillips for Faydelle Schott. Fresh off a pair of wins on The Red Mile, World’s Grand Champion On The Mark and Karen Waldron garnered the yellow streamers with the multi-titled Lord Ovation and Larry Bacon in for the fourth spot.

The five-gaited division seems larger than ever this week with just so far 41 in the junior division, 67 in the amateur/amateur ladies and gentlemen classes, 25 in the junior exhibitor classes and 31 in the open division have hit Freedom Hall. The numbers continued to rise as 17 made their way into Freedom Hall for the Ladies Five-Gaited Gelding. Rising to the top of the large and competitive class was CH Callaway’s Born To Win. With Gayle Lampe aboard the sporty chestnut earned the victory unanimously. Last year’s Section I World’s Champion CH I’m Royalty Too captured the reserve title with Heather DiGiannantonio for Louis and Rosemarie Fernandez. Only a five-year-old, Let’s Talk held his own among the group of proven performers for the yellow streamers with Dena Lopez in the irons while CH Carlswald Prince’s Dominoe carried out the white ribbon with Wendy Troyer.

Elegance would be on the schedule for the next three classes with the Open Three-Gaited Over 15.2 class in first. Reigning World’s Grand Champion CH Our Charming Lady and Mary Orr have been on quite a roll. Since their first appearance in 2007 they have amassed 28 wins in 28 classes. Tonight they added another one to the list as they took home the unanimous victory for Jack and Donna Finch. The west coast superstar, I’m High ‘N Mighty turned in a solid performance with David Blevins in the irons for the reserve title for Jennifer Sandefur. The refined Romance In New York with Kenny Smith garnered the yellow streamers for Kristen Pettry and Marge Fergusson.

With their beauty and refinement, the Hackney pony mares graced Freedom Hall next. Even with only three entries, it was a spectacular class with three of the best competing. Tonight the blue ribbon belonged to the eye-catching chestnut Heartland Moonglow with Kay Marschel at the whip. Having a great show this was their second victory this week as they also won the amateur ladies. It was Marschel’s third personal win, second for the day after an earlier victory with Heartland Breaking News. Moonglow is trained under the Majestic Oaks banner while Breaking News heralds from Double D. Golden Creek continued their success with the 2008 winner of this class, Heartland Elise, capturing the reserve title along with a first place vote. Jeff McClean presented the multi-titled champion. Heartland Alluring is not stranger to the winner’s circle and with Dr. Alan Raun at the whip they garnered third place for Deborah Jahn.

The second half of the ladies three-gaited followed with 17 under two teams on the schedule. The judges all agreed after Nancy Leigh Fisher confidently rode the swan-like Heavenly Thunder to the title for the Willowbank banner. In only their second show together, Prophet’s Song and Maria Gilman captured the reserve title for Diane Sembler-Karins. Always exuding elegance, the 2008 winner of this class, Victoria Lynn, was in top form for the yellow ribbon with Helen Cherry while the hard riding Ali Judah had CH Hollywood Agent stroking down the rail for a good fourth in the deep class.

The pace picked up as the Open Roadster Under Saddle burst through the gate. Thrilling the crowd, Matt Shiflet masterfully guiding the bold moving Big ‘N Rich around the turns and down the straightaways and eventually into the winner’s circle. Shiflet presented Big ‘N Rich to the unanimous win for Walter "Chappy" Chapman. Speeding away with the reserve title was the 2008 winner Despite It All with Suzanne Crabtree in the irons for Barbara Watts.

The roadsters must have gotten the crowd warmed up because in the Open Fine Harness Mare class you could barely hear the person next to you as announcer Peter Fenton called for the crowd to let the judges know "who’s your favorite tonight." They did just that after the first glimpse of the unknown The Davinci Code made her way down the rail. Not to be left out, 2008’s winner CH Along Came A Spider and the junior world’s champion of champions Voulez Vous fans strongly voiced their favorite as well. But when the work was done, it was The Davinci Code rocking the house and unanimously besting the field of six. Bred by Nash Stables, the charismatic mare by New York Royal and out of a Memories Of Will Rogers mare has never seen the show ring until tonight and with Jim Stachowki at the whips, she showed she was born for the division as she paraded down the rail. Spider, with George Knight on the lines, did not make it easy as they put in a classic performance for the reserve. Voulez Vous proved that she is a force to reckoned with as well. With Tiffany Wheeler at the helm, the magnificent bay carried out the yellow ribbon for owners and breeders Chris and Jean Nalley.

Add to the running total another 11, as that was the number of teams that made their way into Freedom Hall next for the Ladies Five-Gaited Mare class. Callaway’s Annabel Allison has been a thrill to watch winning great classes at competitive shows like Midwest and Blue Ridge. The daughter of CH Caramac, was a sight tonight for owner and trainer Debbie Foley. She racked and trotted up a storm for the unanimous victory. Deborah Butler continued her successful week aboard Pour Some Sugar On Me. The eye-catching liver chestnut, highlighted with her platinum mane and tail, carried out the reserve title. Carol Hillenbrand had a flawless ride aboard the beautiful Callaway’s Cassis for a third place finish. She could not have been more proud as she picked up her yellow streamers from ribbon presenter Ethan Roetman proving that it’s not just about the ribbon but always about the ride.

The show took a short pause as the Audrey Pugh Gutridge Award was bestowed to the late Dawn Atlas with Paul and Sally Jo Briney making the presentation.

It was three-peat in the Hackney Pony Stallion/Gelding Stake as Dun-Haven Phenomenal lived up to his name once again. Owned by Carl and Kathryn Nichols, the little, yet dynamic Hackney waves his legs almost touching his nose. Keeping him punched up and never missing a beat for the unanimous win was Maureen Campbell. The recently crowned Lexington grand champion, Par Excellence earned the reserve title with Larry Ella at the whip for Bent Tree Farm. Carrying out the yellow ribbon was Impress My Daddy with Georgia Blevins for the Debonaire Stables banner. These three household names put on quite a show.

The second section of the 14-17 three-gaited made their way info Freedom Hall next. With excellent ringmanship, Ellen Medley Wright dominated the ring of 13 aboard the magnificent A Travelin’ Man. With a brilliant performance, the DeLovely trained team triumphed unanimously to keep Travelin’ Man’s undefeated record in tact.. With a neck that seems to reach the stars, CH Keeper Of The Stars marched to the reserve title with Jackie de La Parte. Silver Exchange and Dakota Reiser rounded out the top three for Alice Nunley while CH Heathermoor’s Prince and Emily Druckman confidently rode to a top four finish.

The evening performance came to a close with 14 gelding bursting down the ramp for the gelding stake. It was a mix of celebrated stars from all parts of the country testing the waters on their way to a Saturday night show down.

Merrill Murray and Courageous Lord have put the heat on. After the sweep on The Red Mile, everyone wondered if they would hold it together for tonight. However, the gelding known for being a little cantankerous, has really come into his own under Murray’s expertise and tonight he did gait after gait with power and ease. When the cards had been tabulated it was official as Peter Fenton announced, "Good Lord, it’s Merrill" calling Courageous Lord to the winner’s circle for Marsha Shepard and Bill Carrington with applause from the crowd. Rob Turner had the young, powerful star Worthy’s World To Know stroking for the reserve title for Riverdreams LLC. The crowd erupted again as Bravo Blue was called for the third place finish with Bob Brison for B & T Vonderschmitt. Just a year ago the expressive gelding topped this class with Virgil Helm. The flashy and ground covering Attache’s Crown Royal and Melinda Moore carried out the white ribbon for Park Avenue Partners LLC. And so now the stage has been set for Saturday night.

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