The American Quarter Horse Association announced its national champions on Wednesday afternoon at Heritage Place in Oklahoma City and horses and horsemen based in California were strongly represented at the annual ceremony.
Moonist (left) was the winningest American Quarter Horse of 2014, and he is also the champion 3-year-old and champion 3-year-old gelding. Raced by Ronald Hartley of Canyon Lake, California, and racing exclusively at Los Alamitos, Moonist clipped off four derby wins at the Southern California track. They include the Golden State Derby (G1), El Primero Del Ano Derby (G3), PCQHRA Breeders Derby and Governor’s Cup Derby (RG3). His only loss from his 10 starts was a fourth-place finish in the Los Alamitos Winter Derby (G1). Trained by John Cooper and ridden by Cesar De Alba, Moonist earned $357,358 in the year. He was bred by Vessels Stallion Farm LLC of Bonsall, California, and is by Separatist and out of champion Your First Moon, a daughter of First Down Dash.
Another brilliant performer during the year, Heza Dasha Fire fell a length short of the Los Alamitos Bonanza, but is the champion 2-year-old gelding. Bred and raced by S-Quarter K LLC of Kennewick, Washington, Heza Dasha Fire won six of seven starts and earned $962,956. He eclipsed the Ed Burke Million Futurity (G1) and Golden State Million Futurity (G1) with dazzling efforts before finishing fourth in the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity (G1). Also sired by Walk Thru Fire, Heza Dasha Fire is out of the Mr Jess Perry mare Dasha Freda. He was saddled by trainers Jose Flores and Lindolfo Diaz, and ridden throughout the year by Cruz Mendez.
The champion 2-year-old filly is the Walk Thru Fire filly Jess Walking Thru. Showing consistency in her eight starts, Jess Walking Thru dashed to a win in the Dash For Cash Futurity (G1) and was third in the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity (G1) while earning $411,334. She is owned by Gary and Linda Gordon and Ross Roark of Roanoke, Texas, and was bred by Lance Robinson and Max Anderson of Spanish Fork, Utah. She was trained by Mike Robbins and ridden by Jose Alvarez. Sired by Walk Thru Fire, she is out of the Mr Jess Perry mare Jess Sass Me.
Abigail Kawananakoa’s Significant Heart is the champion aged mare. The 2010 mare won three of seven starts, with two thirds, and earned $118,790. Her three stakes wins during the year include the Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap (G1), Miss Princess Handicap (G3) and Las Damas Handicap (G3). Bred by La Feliz Montana Ranch LLC, Significant Heart is by leading sire Corona Cartel and out of the Mr Jess Perry mare Jess Significant. Through the year, she was trained by Paul Jones and ridden by Cesar De Alba, Eduardo Nicasio, Cody Jensen and Ramon Sanchez.
Winning stakes in two hemispheres in 2014, Jake Gold BR is the South American champion. The 2010 gray stallion won the Bank of America South America Championship Challenge at the Jockey Club of Sorocaba, which earned him his championship title, but he wasn’t done yet – he came to the United States, where he represented his homeland in the Bank of America Challenge Championships (G1), then won the Christmas Invitational Handicap at Los Alamitos. Bred in Brazil by the late Gianni Franco Samaja, Jake Gold BR is owned by Clodoaldo Miranda. The stallion was trained by M. Arteman and ridden by M. Praxedes in Brazil, and trained by Paul Jones and ridden by Oscar Peinado, Omar Reyes and Cesar De Alba in the United States. Jake Gold BR is from the family of two-time U.S. champion Good Reason SA.
Leading the breeder categories by both wins and money earned in the year, Dr. Edward Allred earned his 10th nod as the sport’s champion breeder. The resident of Cypress, California, last year saw horses he bred win at an 18 percent clip and earn more than $3.7 million. They include Grade 1 winners He Looks Hot and Quirky, and Restricted Grade 1 winner Once Over. The all-time leading breeder by money earned and a member of the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame, Dr. Allred earned his first championship in 1992, and in 1996 shared the honor with Spencer Childers.
Paul Jones’ stranglehold on the Blane Schvaneveldt Champion Trainer award continued in 2014, as he earns his 13th consecutive nod. With the win, he overtakes the award’s namesake, who earned it 12 times. Jones led trainers by money earned during the year, sending out runners, including champions Significant Heart and Jake Gold BR, who earned $3,313,455. His other graded stakes winners include BF Farm Boss, Native Tea Rose and New Look.
Jockey Cody Jensen is as tough as they come, and to prove it, he earned his second consecutive honor as champion jockey. The rider, who has already overcome numerous injuries in past years, this year rode champion Hes Relentless to a stakes victory, despite a freshly broken collarbone. He also piloted Houdini, Lovethewayyoulie, Kiss My Hocks and Viva Mi Corazon to Grade 1 victories. His 305 mounts won 52 starts and earned $2,879,190 during the year. Jensen was also the recipient of the 2014 Sam Thompson Memorial Award, an honor given to a jockey by his peers who feel his personal character and behavior on and off the racetrack reflect positively on the sport.
Texas star JRC Callas First was named the 2014 World Champion Racing American Quarter Horse after a season that included eight wins from 10 starts, two Grade 1 victories and six total stakes wins. JRC Callas First is owned by Dana and Brian Stroud of Sutherland Springs, Texas, and also is the year’s champion aged gelding and champion aged horse. The 2010 son of Winners Award out of the Dirty Coup mare Calla Missy Jane campaigned in Texas and New Mexico. He won at distances ranging from 350 to 550 yards, including the Refrigerator Handicap (G1) and Zia Park Championship (G1).