AQHA names top quarter horse awards for 2021, including honorees from Sunland Park and Ruidoso

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The American Quarter Horse Association announced its top honors for 2021 with plenty of connections to Sunland Park and Ruidoso racetracks.

Here is a look at the top honorees.

Danjer

Danjer dominated the racetrack in 2021, and for those accomplishments, he was crowned World Champion Racing American Quarter Horse. He is owned by breeder Dean Frey in partnership with Downtime Enterprises LLC and Billy Smith and was also named champion aged horse and champion aged gelding.

Danjer was the 2020 champion aged horse and champion aged gelding and only improved as a 5-year-old in 2021. He made seven starts, with five wins and two seconds, earning $651,113. His year was highlighted by victories in the Debbie Schauf Remington Park Invitational Championship (G1), Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1), Refrigerator Invitational Championship (G1), All American Gold Cup (G1) and Bank of America Canterbury Championship Challenge (G3). He was trained by Dean Frey and ridden in all his starts by Cody Smith.

Cody Smith, rides Danjer to win the All American Gold Cup at Ruidoso Downs Race Track and Casino on Monday September 6, 2021.
Cody Smith, rides Danjer to win the All American Gold Cup at Ruidoso Downs Race Track and Casino on Monday September 6, 2021.

Eagles Fly Higher

Eagles Fly Higher repeats as the champion-aged stallion after winning two of nine starts and earning $107,902. The 5-year-old stallion by One Famous Eagle and out of the First Down Dash mare Lone Bet was bred by V.H. Harman Jr. and Robert Moudy III, and he is owned by Darling Farms and Valeriano Racing Stables LLC. He won the Eastex Stakes (G2) and Mr Jet Moore Stakes (G2). He was trained by Roberto G. Madrigal, Jaime Gomez and Casey Black, and ridden by James A. Flores, Jose Nicasio, Oscar Peinado and Mario Delgado.

Kiss Thru Fire

The daughter of champion Fredaville, Kiss Thru Fire herself became a champion for owner and breeder Gentry Farms as the champion aged mare. At age 4, the Walk Thru Fire mare raced eight times, winning four races to earn $132,147. She was trained by Juan G. Aleman and Trey Wood and ridden by Raul A. Valenzuela. Her stakes win includes the Charger Bar Handicap (G1), Denim N Diamonds Handicap (G3), California Breeders Matron Stakes (RG3) and Sound Dash Handicap.

Jess Savin Candy

Multiple Grade 1 winner Jess Savin Candy was named the champion 2-year-old and champion 2-year-old gelding. Bred by Jim and Donna O’Neal and raced by Dutch Masters III, the son of Jess Good Candy out of the Pappasito mare Savin Grace won four of six starts and earned $1,046,200. Trained by John Stinebaugh and ridden by Francisco Calderon, his year was highlighted by victories in the Grade 1 Ruidoso and Rainbow futurities at Ruidoso Downs Race Track and Casino. Jess Savin Candy also qualified for the All American Futurity.

Jess Savin Candy (7) wins the $1 million Ruidoso Futurity at the Ruidoso Downs Racetrack on June 13, 2021.
Jess Savin Candy (7) wins the $1 million Ruidoso Futurity at the Ruidoso Downs Racetrack on June 13, 2021.

Golden Boi

The champion 2-year-old colt is Golden Boi, a son of Favorite Cartel out of Logans Dash by Toast To Dash. He was bred and raced by M and G Farms Inc., trained by Valentin A. Zamudio and ridden by Ruben Lozano. Golden Boi won four of six starts and earned $488,791, including a victory in the Ed Burke Million Futurity (G1).

Revenant Moon

Revenant Moon is the champion 2-year-old filly after a season that included three wins in five starts and earnings of $224,418. Bred by Dosi and Norma Alvarez, Revenant Moon is by A Revenant and out of the FDD Dynasty mare Sochi Moon. She was raced by Trey Odom, Scott Bryant and Norman W. Allen, and trainer Trey Wood and jockey Jose Alvarez guided the filly to a year that included winning the Oklahoma Futurity (G2).

Empressum

Empressum was impressive with nine wins from 10 starts and earnings of $969,755 and is honored as the champion 3-year-old and champion 3-year-old gelding. He was bred and is owned by Jeff D. Jones and Steve A. Holt, and is by Apollitical Jess and out of the First Down Dash mare Crazy Down Corona. He was trained by M. Heath Taylor and ridden by Rodrigo Vallejo, and won the Texas Classic Derby (G1), Ruidoso Derby (G1), Rainbow Derby (G1) and Remington Park Oklahoma-bred Derby (RG2). He also qualified for the All American Derby in Ruidoso. In his first year as a four-year-old this year, Empressum was second in the Championship at Sunland Park.

Whistle Stop Cafe

2020 world champion Whistle Stop Cafe was honored again this year as the champion 3-year-old filly for owner Whitmire Ranch after a season that saw her win three races, including the Rainbow Oaks, and earned $247,854. She was trained by Trey Wood and ridden by Tanner Thedford. Whistle Stop Cafe was bred by American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame member Bobby D. Cox and is by Freighttrain B and out of the Mr Jess Perry mare Sinuous. Whistle Stop Cafe won the 2020 All American Futurity.

Dulce Sin Tacha

Another repeat champion is 3-year-old colt Dulce Sin Tacha, who won three of five starts, with two seconds, and earned $175,286. Bred by owners Bob and Jerry Gaston, he is by Jess Good Candy and out of the Tempting Dash mare Prissy Sin Tacha. Trained by M. Heath Taylor, he was ridden by Rodrigo Vallejo and James Flores.

Wascallywittlewabbit

* The distance champion is Rogers Farms’ Wascallywittlewabbit, a 6-year-old gelding by Heza Motor Scooter and out of the Rabbits Rainbow mare Rabbits N Diamonds. He was bred by Mike Weatherly, trained by Michael W. Joiner and ridden by Benito Jude Baca. He won five of seven starts and earned $184,013, including the Cox Ranch Distance Challenge Championship (G1), Zia 870 Championship, Remington Park Distance Championship (G1) and Pauls Valley Stakes (G2). Rogers Farm is located in Clint, Texas.

* American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame horseman Bobby D. Cox earns his fourth champion breeder title, again leading the industry by both money earned and races won, with his standouts including champion Whistle Stop Cafe. The champion owners, Dutch Masters III, this year saw their horses win at a 34 percent clip, led by champion Jess Savin Candy. Oklahoma-based trainer Jason Olmstead saddled the earners of more than $1.9 million and was honored as the Blane Schvaneveldt Champion Trainer for the first time. Also earning his first nod as champion a jockey was Francisco Calderon, whose mounts earned more than $3.3 million.

Francisco Calderon rides Jess Savin Candy to victory in the fifth All American Futurity trial in Ruidoso, Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, in Ruidoso, N.M.
Francisco Calderon rides Jess Savin Candy to victory in the fifth All American Futurity trial in Ruidoso, Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, in Ruidoso, N.M.

This article originally appeared on El Paso Times: AQHA names top quarter horse awards for 2021

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