The 2011 Remington Park Championship will be held on Saturday, May 28 and will likely feature a field with 2009 World Champion Freaky, 2008 World Champion and all-time leading money earner Stolis Winner, champion millionaire Noconi and the nation’s current top ranked horse Louisiana Senator. The winner will earn a berth to the 2011 $750,000 Champion of Champions to be held at Los Alamitos on Saturday, December 10. Los Alamitos figures to broadcast the Remington Park Championship in California on the track’s simulcast network.
The field to the Remington Park Championship is undeniably strong and some are calling it “in all likelihood the most accomplished group to compete in any one event in the history of American Quarter Horse racing.” I started thinking about some of the great and accomplished fields that I’ve seen assembled over the years at Los Alamitos Race Course and one race immediately came to mind – the 2006 Champion of Champions.
The top five finishers in that race were superstars to say the least. The eventual winner was that year’s World Champion and proud millionaire Wave Carver, while the runner-up was the 2004 World Champion and fellow millionaire Be A Bono. Country Chicks Man, that year’s AQHA champion aged stallion, also ran and finished third, while four-time AQHA champion Apollitical Time (a champion as a 3-year-old filly, aged mare, aged horse and broodmare) ended up fourth. Strawkins, a two-time Grade 1 winner at 440 yards and that year’s champion 3-year-old gelding, ran fifth, and was followed by multiple Grade 1 stakes placed performer Gulfstream Five, 2007 AQHA champion aged mare Blazin Fire, multiple Grade 1 finalist Lindas Dasher, 2005 Champion of Champions runner-up Like Frankie And Me and multiple Grade 1 winner Gold Medal Jess. From top to bottom an outstanding field and among the best I’ve seen since I began my employment at Los Alamitos in 1993.
Perhaps the greatest field of runners ever assembled at Los Alamitos Race Course and one worthy to be called one of the greatest in the history of the sport was put together for the first ever running of the Champion of Champions back in 1972. The field featured three eventual AQHA Hall of Fame inductees (Charger Bar, Kaweah Br and Rocket Wrangler) and yet none of those three legendary stars could find a way to topple that year’s World Champion, Mr Jet Moore, in the inaugural Champion of Champions. It was that kind of a race and that kind of field.
In winning the Champion of Champions Mr Jet Moore added a crown jewel to a brilliant career that would see him earn $340,000. In addition to his World Champion title, he would also be named that year’s champion 3-year-old colt and the nation’s top stallion. The rest of the field oozed class by the buckets starting with Charger Bar, who had a rare runner-up effort in that year’s Champion of Champions. The daughter of Tiny Charger was used to winning races in her career, as her record showed 28 wins from 43 starts in six years. As a winner of 18 stakes races at Los Alamitos and 21 stakes in her lifetime she also bankrolled nearly $500,000 in her racing travels. Charger Bar was undefeated in 1971 on the way to being named the sport’s World Champion and would be named the sport’s champion mare four straight years from 1971 through 1974. She also had a great rivalry with Kaweah Bar, beating him three times. A nine-time AQHA champion Charger Bar went on to produce fourteen foals and of those ten became winners. Proud Heritage, Go Proudly, and Blushing By were some of her foals and her offspring earned over $625,000 on the racetrack. After she died in 1997, her ashes were scattered over the infield at Los Alamitos. She was inducted into the AQHA Hall of Fame in 2001.
Known as the Palomino Express, Hall of Fame member Kaweah Bar (shown in photo) arrived in 1972 already a two-time World Champion with crowns in 1968 and 1970. A five-time champion gelding as well, Kaweah Bar made 101 starts during his eight years of racing. He won 36 races and 18 of those were stakes races at Los Alamitos. Kaweah Bar wold finished third to Mr Jet Moore and Charger Bar leaving the Champion of Champions as one of the few races he never won. Following Kaweah Bar across the wire in fourth place was the outstanding 1971 champion 2-year-old filly Osage Rocket, who won 15 races and earned over $266,000 in her brilliant career. She won the 1971 Kindergarten Futurity and 1972 Golden State Derby at 440 yards. Osage Rocket was sired by the Thoroughbred stallion and Hall of Fame member Rocket Bar.
Also sired by Rocket Bar, Hall of Fame member Rocket Wrangler finished in fifth place. He was named the 1970 AQHA champion 2-year-old after winning the All American Futurity and Rainbow Futurity to go along with a second place finish in the All American Congress Futurity. After retiring with 10 wins and $252,167 in career earnings, Rocket Wrangler would go on to sire 56 stakes winners, including Hall of Fame member Dash For Cash. Rocket Wrangler was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010.
Mr Kid Charge and Come Six finished sixth and seventh, respectively, in the 1972 Champion of Champions. Mr Kid Charger won the 1971 All American Futurity and Rainbow Futurity and set a new track record for 400 yards at Ruidoso Downs of :19.65. An AQHA champion 2-year-old colt, Mr Kid Charger also won the 1972 Sunland Park championship and C L Maddons Bright Eyes Handicap. Moving on to Come Six, he is best remembered for his famous south of the border match race against the Mexican-owned Thoroughbred great Beduino. A champion in 1971, 1972 and 1973, Come Six had set 440-yard track records of :21.55 at Ruidoso Downs and :21.47 at Centennial Racetrack. In his duel with Beduino, which was billed as a showdown between two nations, Come Six lead early before Beduino caught him in the second half of the quarter mile race to beat him by a length.
The eighth place finisher in the ’72 Champion of Champions was Master Rocket, a 12-time winner and a Superior Racehorse. Ninth place went to the multiple stakes winner of 18 races Le Cinder, whose victories included the Raton Derby, Wonderland Stakes, Kansas Maturity, Empire Handicap, and Jet Deck Stakes. Le Cinder was also a former track and world record holder. Vandy’s Tom, from the great family of World Champion Vandy’s Flash, rounded out a field that should to be recognized as one of the greatest of all-time. There have been many other great fields in the Champion of Champions over the years (Denim N Diamonds, Sgt Pepper Feature and Town Policy in 1981; Justanold Love, Dashingly, Mr Master Bug, Sgt Pepper Feature, Higheasterjet in 1983; Cash Rate, Dashingly, Rise N High, Eastex in 1985; The Down Side, Catchmeinyourdreams, Whosleavingwho, AB What A Runner in 2003), but the fields in 1972 and 2006 are two that stand out for me.
By Orlando Gutierrez
Los Alamitos Marketing and Publicity Director