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Wisconsin Futurity

There's a certain amount of pride that goes into raising babies, and that goes for both the human and equine versions. Whether it's pushing your stroller through the park with a newborn heir or escorting your son or daughter to their first soccer game, there's nothing quite like the feeling you get inside.

For breeders of American Saddlebreds there's also an incredible feeling when the planned crosses work and it comes time to put your hand crafted creations on public display. Saddlebred fanciers in this area of the country have long been devoted to breeding and raising quality youngsters. Their version of the park or soccer field is the arena at the Dane County Fairgrounds in Madison, Wisc., where classes for nominated performers from weanlings to three-year-olds competed for substantial prize money and beautiful trophies.

Adding to the wealth and depth of the show, the grandfather of "Limited Breeders' classes," the 18th Annual Wisconsin Limited Breeders' Weanling Stake, awarded $71,150 in prize money to the top 10 finishers out of the 27 shown. The champion, High Time's Star Material, earned $24,460 with 75 percent going to the weanling's owner, Patricia Misko, and 25 percent going to the stallion owner, Pam Specht.

The owners, breeders, and trainers of the futurity-nominated youngsters had to be bursting with pride as class after class there was quality and depth and it didn't all come from the big-name farms and exhibitors. Breeders/exhibitors both big and small came to the show ring with entries that could entertain and the majority of these youngsters looked like they would be show horses as they grew up. Several times, announcer John Owens let the audience know that a particular winner in a performance class was a former in hand futurity winner right here at this show.

As one exhibitor exclaimed as another large futurity class came through the gate, "This is Wisconsin. They take their futurity and their pleasure horses very seriously."

Capturing the hearts of judges, trainers, fellow breeders, and exhibitors, the petite, yet dynamic package known as Gotta Love Her finished the weekend with three futurity titles. An absolutely exquisite daughter of Time Out For Lovin', Gotta Love Her won the Weanling Futurity Championship and fillies qualifier with owners/breeders/trainers Vonal and Brian Curran then came back to take the Amateur Weanling Futurity with George Davenport on the lead. "It was a real privilege to show that filly," said Davenport. "She was a real professional and loved what she was doing. I was just trying to stay out of her way."

Show manager Scott Stollenwerk has put the polish on the Wisconsin Futurity Show. He's a hands on manager that could be found everywhere from the office with secretary Cheryl Rangel to the make-up ring making sure it was a smooth-flowing production. Grant Herrman also went a long ways towards making that happen as the paddock announcer.

Occupying the center of the arena and armed with official cards for the 130 classes were Fran Crumpler, Gary Garone, and Lisa Richardson. Tammie Conatser also served as learner judge. There were good classes in every division to give Conatser valuable experience with quality competition.

Like many of the shows on the Wisconsin circuit, hospitality is also at a premium. The Limited Breeders' Brunch and the Eighth Annual Progressive Barn Party were the highlights. This year we were also treated to receptions for two retiring show ring champions. CH Ledgewind's Final Touch and CH Royal Crest Sandstone were both retired with center ring ceremonies followed by get togethers in their honor.

Aside from the wealth of talent in the futurity classes, the stars of the performance division featured some of the best in the land. A host of recently crowned world's champions were on hand to entertain for the nice size crowds that viewed the evening performances.

It has been a year of feel good stories from the American Saddlebred world and none has been bigger than the Rob Byers and Boucheron story. With a different storyline, Hollow Haven Farm's Ericka Nelson and CH Blackberry Delight received an extremely large ovation from the Wisconsin Futurity crowd which included direct competitors. A world's champion in five different divisions, two with Nelson, Blackberry Delight was sold the week before the show to Rachel Machamer of Clover Leaf Stables in Knoxville, Tenn.

These were Nelson's last two rides aboard the 2004 Ladies Three-Gaited World's Grand Champion and 2003 Adult Show Pleasure World's Grand Champion. When she made the victory pass on her last ride as the Wisconsin Futurity Ladies Three-Gaited Grand Champion over Callaway's Bulldog Edition, the crowd responded with a warm ovation in appreciation of the outstanding performances they had been a part of over the course of his career, the majority of it spent on this very circuit with trainers David Kerger, Lisa Strickland and Andy and Lynda Freseth. I'm sure a few were also applauding and thinking, "Thank goodness I don't have to go up against him anymore, at least around here."

Adding to the story, Blackberry Delight had been the featured champion for this year's famed Dimaro bronze which is used as trophies for the show. These valuable keepsakes, molded in the likeness of one of the Midwest's all-time favorites, were highly coveted this year. The Hollow Haven bunch did its best to take a tack room table full of them home.

Next to the Dimaro bronzes, the most sought after trophy at the Wisconsin Futurity was the Donald W. Fergusson Perpetual Memorial Trophy awarded to the winner of the Limited Breeders' Weanling Stake. Credited as being the first program of its kind in the Saddlebred world with prize money generated from the auctioning of stud fees and the resulting foals eligible to show in the weanling jackpot, the Limited Breeders' Stake continues to attract large numbers of top line babies.

A product of Supremacy's High Time and Callaway's High Stepper, High Time's Star Material had the highest scores among the three judges and in doing so defeated 26 other topnotch weanlings to pose before Howie Schatzberg for the winning presentation picture. Pam Specht was the winning breeder/handler for owner Patricia Misko. They went home with more than $24,000 of the $71,150 awarded. Having a great week with his homebred stock, Joe Russell collected $15,287 with his reserve champion presentation of A Wise Guy (The Last Don x Albelarm Impulse). Harry Gilmore helped with the presentation. "I was very honored to take reserve in that group of horses," said owner/breeder/handler Joe Russell. "These babies by The Last Don are just getting old enough to show and they represented us here pretty well. We don't show much early in the season, but from August to November we stay at it."

A good chunk of prize money and a nice ovation from the crowd also went to third place finisher Heir Guitar (Supreme Heir x I'll Dream Of You). Tom VanEss was on the lead, assisted by his wife Neva VanEss. Joan Lurie is usually on the end of a good one and this was no exception. Sired by the Supreme Heir son Con Heir, Clover Hill's Wild Again was fourth for Lurie and owners Jollif and Davenport.

The remaining ribbon winners were Oak Grove's Izod (by Sir William Robert), Fire Hero (by Haven's Hero), A Little Commotion (by I'm The Prince), Meadowood's T. Rex (by Uncle Jimmy McDonald), Mi American Diva (by Mi Liberty Flame), Etched In Steel (by General Steel), Syrinx (by Unlisted), and Risin' Smoke (by Forty Second Street ERB).

Futurity competition found the above mentioned Gotta Love Her putting on two big-time performances to win the Weanling Futurity Championship and Fillies class. Vonal Curran gave the outstanding leads for owner Karlene Goodman. Marc Holm led the reserve Weanling Futurity Champion, Swiss Heir (Love Is In The Heir x Spirits And Sparks) for Danielle Zipperer. Another of the extremely toppy Simply Majestic babies showing, Majestica was third in the 10-entry Weanling Futurity Championship.

Another colt sired by Love Is In The Heir, Impressive Heir was the winner of the Weanling Colt Futurity. Mark Holm was the winning trainer for owner Dave Trussell. Toni Nastali's Fanciful Heir SS was reserve with Tom Thorpe.

The third title won by Gotta Love Her was the Wisconsin Futurity Weanling Amateur class with George Davenport the handler for the Curran family. Next In Line was exactly that, taking the red ribbon for the McGlaughlin brothers of Shale Hill Stable.

Appropriately named, it was a royal performance given by In Thy Majesty's Name (by Simply Majestic) to win the Yearling Futurity Championship. This elegant princess also won the Filly qualifier for Scott Matton and owners/breeders Paul and Jonelle Chovanec. Royal Crests Stone Quest, sired by American Replay out of Scarlet Talent, was the Reserve Yearling Futurity Grand Champion for Pat Wessel and owners/breeders Bruce and Rusty Rademann. Matton had two of the top three as the Andeker-sired Final Deklaration was third for Scott and Carol Matton. He qualified with a win in the Yearling Colt Futurity. Andeker was a former futurity champion both in hand and in harness and has sired countless winners over the years.

Brendan Heintz did a great job presenting Royal Crest stock in the Amateur Futurity classes. He led Royal Crests Houley Boulder (Phi Slama Jama x Royal Crests Ridge Rock) to the winner's circle in the Two-Year-Old In Hand Amateur Futurity. Mike Bletsoe is becoming a regular in the in-hand division and earned reserve honors with Paulette Healey's Begotten.

Winner of the Amateur Futurity Weanling class in 2003, Royal Crests Stone From Tiffanys (The Irish Connection x Star Spangled Lady) was the 2004 Amateur Yearling Champion with Brendan Heintz again presenting for Royal Crest Farm. Joe Russell was in the thick of things with another good one in reserve champion Mafia Mistress.

In Thy Majesty's Name was back at it, winning the Grand National Yearling In Hand class for the Chovanec/Matton team. Fonzie del Rio presented his own The Last Town to take reserve money among the 14 entries.

The apple didn't fall far from the tree in the case of Miss Majesticness. Stamped with elegance and ability she was the Wisconsin Futurity Two-Year-Old Fine Harness Champion for Scott Matton. Miss Majesticness was shown under the ownership of Paul and Jonelle Chovanec. The Midwest breeders are doing their homework extremely well as this was a strong class of two-year-olds. Reserve champion The Paper Princess was covered with quality from head to toe for Jay and Jean Wood.

All of those futurity payments have continued to pay off for Lee-Mar Farms. A winner as a weanling and as a yearling, Sultan's Radiant Vision (Radiant Sultan x Executive Vision) was back as the Wisconsin Futurity Three-Year-Old Park Pleasure Champion for Dee Dee Mackie and trainer Grant Herrman. They received $3,000 with their blue ribbon. Reserve futurity money of $2,500 went to Dr. Rick and Cindy Luft as Mayo Moctezuma debuted their It's Hammertime filly, M'Lady's Hot Time.

There were also young stars outside of the Wisconsin Futurity program. Amberwood's Double Delight topped the UPHA Three-Year-Old Five-Gaited Classic with Louis Louw in the irons. Tom Scott and Callaway's Duchess Of Caramac made a strong bid with reserve honors.

Out of the grand gaited mare Party Train and by Reedann's Top Gun, The Party's Here was the ground covering winner of the Junior Five-Gaited Stake. Kelly Freeman represented Reedannland and owner Barbara Molland in the irons. Tom Scott and Indigo Joe had plenty of fans as the reserve champions.

Emerging as one of the outstanding young stars in the Midwest this season, Tantalize Me was again all show horse to capture the UPHA Three-Year-Old Three-Gaited Classic for Pam Slater. Sired by Arborlane's Tango Wee Pee, this filly has the complete package. No slouch herself in a debut performance, MJB Timeless Talent was reserve with Marc Holm in the irons for Laura Stanelle.

What a week it was for Jonelle Chovanec. In addition to watching her home-bred babies have great success in the Futurity competition, she rode Tommy James to win the UPHA Three-Year-Old Park Pleasure Classic. Tom Bombolis turned in a good ride with Full Court to garner the reserve prize money for Glenmore Farm.

UPHA Classic prize money was also awarded to Royal Crest Farm in the fine harness division. Pat Wessel had a winning drive with Royal Crests Freedom Rocks. Rick Wallen showed Callaway's Winning Streak to reserve honors.

No one has been more devoted their breeding program than Joe Russell, and A Made Man has proven to be the fruits of his labor. This bright young star was a standout as the Two-Year-Old Three-Gaited Champion with Mayo Moctezuma giving the blue ribbon ride. Sarah Lucht rode up for reserve honors aboard Begotten.

A winner throughout the Midwest all season long, Aurora's Asset (Attache's Liquid Asset x Callaway's Aurora) was rich on talent to win yet another title for trainer Rick Wallen and owner Albert Kelm. This time it was the Grand National Two-Year-Old Fine Harness class. In a very strong class of two-year-olds, The Paper Prince was knocking on the door for top honors with a reserve finish for the Jay Wood family.

To make this a well rounded horse show, the open performance division was rockem' sockem' starting with the five-gaited section. The $2,500 Five-Gaited Jackpot Stake went the way of the little package of dynamite, Boo! Barbara Goodman Manilow was at the controls while representing the Goodman/Manilow families and Obenauf Stables in tricolor fashion. Stallion/gelding champion Summer Rendezvous continues to get stronger and stronger for Andy Freseth to take reserve grand champion honors.

Speaking of getting stronger and putting it all together, Jonelle Chovanec and Pucker Up topped the competitive Five-Gaited Mare Stake which featured Lance Hayes and Mac-A-Daisy in reserve.

Watching Nancy Leigh Fisher ride a gaited horse is better than attending a clinic as very few are peers when it comes to her ringsmanship. She sailed through the Ladies Five-Gaited Championship and qualifier aboard CH Like An Admiral. Been There and Kristin Erickson provided the reserve competition.

Fisher's daughter, newlywed Alice Unger, has obviously learned a lot from her mom as well as trainers Andy and Lynda Freseth. She swept the amateur gaited division aboard Downtown Strutter. Reserve grand champion honors went the way of Sara Van Galder and the always busy Puttin On The Charm. Reserve in the qualifier, Doug Lindstrom and Roseridge Gold were third in the final round.

A total of $2,500 was offered in the Three-Gaited Jackpot Stake, and when the winners were called out Highland Cavalier boldly trotted to the winner's circle with Bob Griffin riding for Bonnie Kegley. Rick Wallen and The Border Star received the reserve nod, followed by Dick Obenauf and the four-cornered Another Asset.

Tricolor honors returned to the Lisa Strickland Stables tack room following Deborah Jahn's winning ride in the Amateur Three-Gaited Championship aboard the elegant-moving Sold Out Show. It was their second victory pass of the week. Dick Hegner and Glenmore's Nordic Princess commanded the reserve championship ribbon.

No stranger to the winner's circle this year, Faye Wuesthofen rode Cheetah's Admiral to the top of the Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited Championship in which Meaghan MacQueen and A Sweet Sensation applied the pressure as reserve grand champions. These top riding young ladies represented La Fleur/Van Ess Stables and Northern Tradition Farm respectively.

Saturday night's Park Full Mane and Tail Jackpot Stake was a showcase of talent starting with world's champion New York Style. Lynda Freseth piloted the oh-so-expressive grand champion for Guy and Karen Smith. Also a current world's champion, the elegant Sunshine Way was the reserve jackpot champion for trainer Lisa Strickland and owner Julie Hambrick.

Northern Tradition finished first and second in the Amateur Park Full Mane and Tail qualifier but had to settle for first and third in the championship. Making their first victory pass of the week, Whitney Anderson and Titleist Symbol emerged as the amateur grand champions followed by Kate Baumann and Evening Event. Qualifying winners CH Matching Spirit and Kelly Theis were third this time out.

After making a victory pass as the Junior Fine Harness Champion, It's Double O Deuce was the regal Fine Harness Jackpot Stake Champion for Dr. Alan Raun and Winning Ways Farm. Their championship performance was placed just ahead of Ellyn Dorsey and the multi-world's-title holder Just About Perfect. The Lisa Strickland-trained entry led the way in the Open Fine Harness class. There was a showcase of current world's title holders at the Wisconsin Futurity. Among them, Lady Maya was the Amateur Fine Harness Champion with Barbara Manilow at the whip.

A good group of nine top flight road ponies competed in Saturday night's Jackpot Stake which featured amateur drivers in the first two ribbons. Grand Champion honors went the way of Heartland Sundust and Mary Gise. The tricolor champions represented Priscilla Gise and Hollow Haven Farm. Turning into a most complete horsewoman, Toni Nastali put on the silks to drive 2004 Junior Road Pony World's Grand Champion Heartland Victory Make to the reserve championship.

Sundust had won the amateur qualifier ahead of Victory Maker. Also owned by the Gise family, Calvin Hobbs was the Open Road Pony Champion with Andy Freseth wearing the silks.

Ponies also made a strong showing at this year's event. Six entries competed for the top prize in the Harness Pony Championship which was won by another big shooter from Hollow Haven Farm, Seamair Sensation, driven by Gene Gallmeier. After winning the amateur class, Conqueror's Colleen was reserve grand champion for owner/driver Mary Ellen Golich. Making a huge splash at Louisville, Pretty Impressive was the Open Harness Pony winner for owner/driver Sue Ellis.

Stone Fence Farm and Knolland Farm had another top show with their Hackney horses and ponies. Luc Boileau drove Kentucky Raine LF to the Hackney Pony Championship after having won the open class. Stablemate Regal's Shadow LF was the reserve champion with Ed Murray at the whip. Boileau and Murray were also first and second in the Hackney Horse Championship with Sandy Creek Radiance and EQL Hallelujah.

Coming back with a vengeance, Bob Anderson and Pacifico's Standing Ovation were knockouts winning the Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony Championship and qualifier. Of the nine entries in the championship they collected all three first place votes. The closest competition came from CC Ryder, driven by Susan Ellis.

A star that just won't quit, Twinkie was the Park Pleasure Grand Champion with Kristin Erickson riding for Carrie Glapinski. Neva VanEss turned in the reserve championship performance with Glendale's Bonnie Lass.

There was lots of rackin' and trottin' going on in the Five-Gaited Show Pleasure Championship in which Carrie Warner and Forever Aptor led the way. Their championship performance was the better of their two wins this week. Reserve grand champion honors went to CF Night So Rare and Kurt Antonacci who were hustling up a storm for owner Ann MacMurray Cox. Pamela Slater and Ridgefield's Excessive had been reserve in the qualifier.

The best of the best in the Show Pleasure Driving Championship went to another current world's title holder. CH Heir's Town was that champion and he was a two-time winner at Wisconsin with Alice Unger in the buggy. Janene Becker and So Fortunate came away as reserve grand champions.

Numbers were so strong in the adult pleasure division that their championship had to be split. Lighting up the ring with her smile, Mary Jane Gralton followed up her world's grand champion ride just a few weeks ago to take the section one championship aboard CH A Magic Spell to give Hollow Haven yet another Wisconsin Futurity grand champion. Thomas Erffmeyer and Irish Tribute rode out with reserve honors.

The next group of adult pleasure riders featured Barbara Manilow and Another Heir in the winner's circle, edging out reserve champions Whatever Works and Kerry Honkamp.

What a dream season it has been for Faye Wuesthofen. Aboard recently crowned world's champion CH Shiny New Penny, Wuesthofen continued the streak with the Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited Pleasure Championship and 13 & Under qualifying blue. Even better, there was a $2,000 scholarship that came with the championship trophy and ribbon. Stablemate CH Wild Harley was reserve grand champion while teamed with Elizabeth Schultz.

As previously mentioned, this part of the country takes its pleasure horses seriously and there is a class for every division. In the Junior Show Pleasure Championship Jayne Tillman and Hard Day's Night were letter perfect to turn back all challengers. Becky Westberg and Reedann's Semper Phi were the elegant reserve winners.

Lance Hayes and his riders were on a roll all week long. Part of that winning group was Heart O'Summer, ridden to the Junior Exhibitor Country Pleasure Championship ahead of The Gun Moll and Emily Doll. Royal Crests Black Marble again led the way among the Country Western Pleasure horses competing for their championship. Marcia Scott finished reserve with Via Con Dios.

Austin Eversman hasn't lost her touch when it comes to equitation. She won the Adult Equitation Championship ahead of DeAnn Dinelli. Knollwood stablemate Michelle Krentz was the Saddle Seat Equitation Grand Champion, while Hannah Fuller rode away with the Walk and Trot Equitation Championship.

A $3,000 scholarship donated by the Knollwood Knockouts youth group was up for grabs in the nine-rider Pleasure Equitation Championship. Making every pass count, Kelsey Smith sailed to another championship. Kristen Jurkynas was all smiles with her reserve victory pass.

These were most of the highlights from the 29th Annual Wisconsin Futurity Horse Show which was held September 15-19. The picture perfect weather, deep competition, and gracious hospitality made for a weekend which exhibitors will want to be back for in 2005.

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