By Sadie Fowler

As tradition continued, the first night of the Celebration festivities kicked off with the annual TWHBEA Futurity, where weanlings, yearlings, two-, and three-year-olds build on their foundations of pedigree and compete for top prize money. 

“The Breeders’ and The Celebration have always been connected; what’s good for the Breeders’ is good for the Celebration and vice versa,” said David Williams, president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ Association. “The Futurity is basically a breeder’s dream come to fruition. You have a colt that you train or raise and if they make it to the futurity … it’s where the owners and breeders can be proud of their stock.”

The Futurity calls for both sires and dams of participating entries to be nominated as well as dues paid in order for competitors to enter in this independent event, which featured 20 classes. Entries do qualify for championship classes of this year’s event. 

The most repeated name of the night in terms of winning sires was by far and large, José José, although several champion bloodlines were present throughout the evening.

Walkin’ & Jammin’ won the first class among entries in the National Futurity Darrah Weanlings (unique color) with Color Me Honors collecting reserve for Tim and Melissa Sager. Amateur Two-Year-Old Country Pleasure English and Western followed with A Cool Drink O’ Watta and Tamara Hader collecting the blue followed by Ritz’s Playboy and Barbara Chapman.

Williams explained the significance of the Darrah classes in the futurity in that it’s a place where these horses can standout without any assumed prejudice they might otherwise unfairly experience when competing among more traditional-colored horses. 

“We offer these classes because 15 percent of our registrations each year are spotted, so we want to accommodate them and reflect that number,” he said.  

A Rider’s Cup designation added to the purse of the third class, the Two-Year-Old Performance Mares and Geldings, with A Sunday Rose earning the blue for Lisa Baum. The winner is sired by The Coach and out of Mama Rose. Touchlined, by Lined With Cash and out of Major’s Watch finished reserve for Carol B. Shelton. A big class and a big agreement among the judges closed the fourth class of the swift-moving evening with Oh Susannah (Walk Time Charlie x Tattoo Ink) on top for Roger Richards/Bobby Joe Jones/Lynn Womack with Young Blood (Gen’s Black Gin x Oh My Maria) in reserve for Holly Sanders. 

This year marked the first year for the Riders’ Cup addition to the Futurity, an idea that came from Carrie Benedict, vice president of the Breeders’ Futurity. Benedict has doubled nominations this year and Williams said the Riders’ Cup has been a huge part of that. 

Though the pot of winnings were at one time in the past bigger, at a time when registrations were greater thus more horses were entered, Williams said that percentage-wise, the number of entries nominated and showing is great based on current registrations. 

“We just need more volume and that happens by breeding more and nominating more,” he said. Last year, he said there was nearly a 25 percent increase in the total number of mares bred and he’s hoping the trends continue. 

Eight entered the Amateur Two-Year-Old Trail Pleasure Stallions, Mares and Geldings class with another unanimous decision and Replay Nine Yards in the winner’s circle for Kimberly Walden. The Whole Nine Yards and Beam’s Rapid Replay are the winning sire and dam. Master Lineman, by Master Of Jazz and out of I Walk a Fine Line, finished reserve for Deborah Parmer. 

Babies were back in the spotlight in the sixth class of the show, the Weanling Fillies (foaled April 1-Aug. 1 2017) with five weanlings on display, carefully judged by the panel: David Landrum, Jennifer Bingham, Chris Bobo, Bill Reel and Scotty Brooks. All agreed I’m A Heartbreaker deserved the tricolor, representing I Am José and dam Midnight Riders Rose bloodlines, for owner Holly Sanders. Jose’ was in the name as Rosé Rosé, sired by José José and out of Pusher’s Loving Feeling, finished as the reserve champions. 

Though certain sires and dams stood out, Williams and Benedict agreed part of the lure of the Futurity is that the spotlight is shared and spread out across the board with no sire or dam fully dominating. “That’s what’s great about the Futurity. It gives everyone a chance to shine.”

A lone show featured boss lady rider Dot Rider aboard Mississippi Mob Boss in the Two-and Three-Year-Old Park Performance class.

Weanling Colts, foaled April 1 through Aug. 1 2017, were up next with Robert Nelms continuing his momentum from earlier Wednesday morning by capturing the tricolor spotlight with Exeter (The Dixie Lineman x The Dotted Line) for Jack Heffington and Side Effects (Master Of Jazz x I Walk A Fine Line) following in second among the field of 10 for Russell Wright & Son. 

Four showed up for another halter class, this time for Two- and Three-Year-Old Model Stallions, Mares and Geldings Riders’ Cup. Miss Jazz Queen (Jazz King x Miss Teen USA) topped the field of four for Leighanne B. Tibbs. Friday Night Vengeance (I’m Dark Vengeance x Oak-A-La) captured reserve for Mariella Fugger. 
Benedict said this year marked the first year the Futurity offered classes for the two and three-year-olds in the model division, where five nominations came in this year. 

Class 11 featured the Two-Year-Old Performance Stallions and Geldings. Yeti topped the field of seven. Sired by José José and out of A Rainy Day Woman, Yeti is owned by Lorraine Rosbury. Also by José José, Sicario earned the crowd’s support. His dam is No Mischief and he’s owned by Donnie Taylor/Mike Floyd. 
Seven showed up again in the Weanling Colts halter class for entries foaled Oct. 1 through March 31. Walk Time Charlie was in the spotlight as the winning sire, with Ten Times Your Money earning the nod for Denise Smith. Coin’s Made Of Money contributed as the winning dam. José José again made his presence known when Limited Edition captured the reserve finish for Western Sky Shelties/Phyllis Langley. The Red Light District is his dam. 

Handsome Rob, sired by The Coach and out of The Jazz Boogie, earned the tricolor for Ashley Wadsworth in the Amateur Three-Year-Old Trail Pleasure class with Abirene (Gen’s Armed And Dangerous x Dark Spirit’s Irene) in the next position for CCJK Enterprises. 

The Darrah Yearling class featured five and Singin’ The Blues CF, by The Confederate Blue and out of Sheza Fantasy, won the tricolor for Carl Gleghorn/Gay Dempsey; second went to Rocky Top Lineman, by The Dixie Lineman and out of She’s A Night Lady, for Lisa Teel and Lisa Washburn. 

The evening livened up when the three-year-old mares and geldings took center stage for their performance class. Seven entries answered the call with the winner repeating his pattern of blues. Hey Good Looking, by Gen’s Black Gin and out of Is That You Margaret) won the class for Lisa Baum, the second win of the night for the Baum’s. Hey Good Looking also won at the Futurity as a yearling and two-year-old. 

The Yearling Fillies closed with Well Hello Darlin’ (José José x Ruby Diamond Ritz) winning for Roger Richards and Charlie’s Major Miracle picking up reserve, representing the bloodlines of sire Walk Time Charlie and dam Another Major Miracle. 

Amateur Three-Year-Old Country Pleasure Stallions, Mares and Geldings featured nine entries and once again Walk Time Charlie’s presence dominated with Hey Charlene winning for Lindy Holt (dam: José’s Montego Bay). José José was also represented for the second time in two classes with Lunazul’s reserve finish for Jared Carrier (dam: Kate’s Cool Cash). 

The Yearling Colts featured Most Wanted MCF, again putting José José in the spotlight as the winning sire, in the winner’s circle for Lorraine Rosbury. I’m Clint Eastwood (Gen’s Black Gin x Bingo’s Annabel) was reserve for Roger Richards.

I Walk The Walk (José José x Jazzy Maxie) topped a field of two in the Two and Three-Year-Old Park Pleasure class for Bobby Jones/Roger Richards. 

The final class of the night showcased four nice entries in the Three-Year-Old Performance Stallions and Geldings with both the first and second place finishers being half-brothers. My Shockwave (Lined With Cash x José’s Grand Lady) earned the tricolor and roses for Karen Beam with The Florida Line (Line With Cash x Dollars 4 Gold) in reserve for Wayne Putnam.