LARC NEWS Posted: 1/18/2018 10:50:49 AM


Bred and trained by Jaime Gomez, J Fire Up was dangerous all year long. The Kiddy Up filly is also a champion now after being named the champion 2-year-old and champion 2-year-old filly during the 2017 AQHAChampions Ceremony held on Wednesday evening.

             Ridden by Jose Nicasio, J Fire Up was never worse than second in nine starts during the year – and won seven of them. Racing Gomez, who owns her in partnership with Ernesto Solis and champion owner Darling Farms, the filly earned $1,430,411 while winning the Grade 1 Golden State Million and Los Alamitos Two Million futurities and the Governor’s Cup Futurity (RG1) and finishing second to champion KVN Corona in the Ed Burke Million Futurity (G1). J Fire Up is out of the Walk Thru Fire mare This Boogie Fires.

            “I’m so proud of this filly,” said an emotional Gomez. “I’ve trained a few champions, but to train, raise and breede one, that’s something very special. This is one of the best moments of my life.”

            The only undefeated champion of the year was KVN Corona, who went 6-for-6 for owner Keith Nellesen and is the champion 2-year-old colt. Trained by Paul Jones and ridden by Ramon Sanchez, the colt won the Ed Burke Million Futurity (G1) over fellow champion J Fire Up, and also won the PCQHRA Breeders’ Futurity (G2). He earned $577,450. KVN Corona was bred by McColee Land & Livestock LLC and is by Corona Cartel and out of the Executive Menace mare Executive Looks.

            “This colt, he’s a little pro,” Jones said. “He’s never done anything wrong. He’s just a great horse.”

            Jess Good Reason gave a good reason to smile, as the 2013 mare is the champion aged mare for the late John Sperry and his wife, Cina. Trained by Paul Jones, the mare won the Charger Bar Handicap (G1) to start off the year, was second by a nose in the Mildred N. Vessels Memorial Handicap (G1) and then won her Z. Wayne Griffin Director’s Trial before running fourth in the Champion of Champions (G1). She earned $137,082 during the year. Jess Good Reason is by Good Reason SA and out of the Feature Mr Jess mare Jess Call Me Tieing. She was bred by Preston and Karen Cloud, and ridden by Oscar Peinado and Jesus Rio Ayala.

            “Mr. Sperry owned this horse. He was one of long, long time clients, one of my first owners. He passed away last year. We really miss him. We’re glad we got a champion for him.”

            Paragon Farms bought Jess Good Reason last December and in a wonderful gesture announced that the champion trophy would go back to California to the Sperry family.                       

            Repeating as the sport’s champion breeder is Bobby D. Cox of Fort Worth, Texas. The member of the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame last year bred 78 winners from 195 starters that earned more than $3.4 million, including champion Duponte.

            Dan Darling’s Darling Farms of Lamont, Oklahoma, had two champions – Hold Air Hostage and J Fire Up – and is the champion owner. In his own name, he had 20 winners from 150 starters and earnings of more than $1.4 million, and in partnership had another $1.4 million in earnings. 

            “We’ve been blessed, so lucky” Darling said. “All we can do is go down from here. It’s been an incredible year.”

            For a full list of AQHAnational champions visit



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