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Johnson’s Impressive On Thursday Night



 

 

JFK’s Monopoly and Gen’s Black Gin Score Unanimous Victories

 

By Mark Davis

 

            The 68th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration has been underway for about 36 hours by now, but for most people the show never really gets started until Counterfeit Dollar and Bud Seaton ride the chute into the big oval for the very first time.

            The Celebration got some of the best advertising available today as WGFX 104.5 The Zone from Nashville, Tenn., broadcast their afternoon drive time show “The Sports Zone”, which happens to be one of the highest rated afternoon shows in the Middle Tennessee market, featuring George Plaster, Willie Daunic and Darren McFarland live from outside Calsonic Arena.  The station also had Celebration announcer Chip Walters on their morning show with Frank Wycheck, Mark Howard and Kevin Ingram.  The kind of positive media attention and promotion that The Celebration and the entire Tennessee Walking Horse industry receives from these types of things is invaluable.

            Promptly at 7pm, Counterfeit Dollar and Bud Seaton, rider of 1978 WGC Threat’s Supreme, headed down the chute and into the ring as it was officially CELEBRATION TIME IN TENNESSEE. 


Bill Johnson, Keith and Rick Blackburn after Gen's Black Gin's Victory
           
Marking the cards for the 68th Annual Celebration are Jamie Bradshaw of Union Grove, Ala., Wink Groover of Longview, Texas, Tommy Loid of Bowling Green, Ky., Huck Moss of Trenton, S.C., and Ronnie Spears of Tullahoma, Tenn.

            A large Thursday evening crowd eagerly awaited the invocation, given by Jonathan Sims of the Shelbyville Mills Baptist Church and the national anthem, sung by the Bedford Express Quartet of Shelbyville, Tenn.

            With that, it was time for the action to begin.  As always, the first class on the Thursday evening schedule is the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-11 Years on Walking Mares, falling at class 22 on this year’s program.  Sixteen of the 22 with reservations made their way to the track to work for that coveted Celebration blue as Judge Jamie Bradshaw called the gaits. 

When the work was complete, it was certainly clear who was in command of the class, She’s Push In Command and Lindsay Hess made an outstanding performance to top the deep division for Connie Hess of Harrisonburg, Va.  She’s Push In Command is a reigning World Champion Three-Year-Old Amateur Mare and Gelding with Connie Hess and Lindsay and Miss Dumas Ebony were the 2005 Youth 11 and Under Reserve World Grand Champions.  It appears with this strong win, which was preceded with wins at Albemarle, N.C.’s, Stanly County Horse Show and Fayetteville, Tenn.’s Blue Ribbon Horse Show, that they just might be a team to be reckoned with.  There will still be a strong challenge coming out of this division with 2004 Youth 11 and Under WGC Sunrise Que Sera Sera and Christina Butler, who tied reserve for Glen and Virgie Crutchfield of Memphis, Tenn., and Collector’s Mindy and owner/exhibitor Amy Ann McCormick of Shelbyville, Tenn., who accepted the yellow streamer.  We haven’t even seen the Gelding divisions yet, which will show on Friday evening.  This promises to be one very deep and competitive championship.


Connie and Lindsay Hess after She's Push In Command's win


           
Class 23 featured the Elite Owner-Amateur Gentleman Riders on Walking Stallions with 15 of the 23 programmed entries making the gate call to work as Judge Wink Groover served as Call Judge.  Bill Johnson proved he and 2005 Four-Year-Old Amateur World Grand Champion JFK’s Monopoly weren’t playing games as they moved into their new division as they made an impressive showing to top all five judges cards for William B. and Sandra Johnson of Atlanta, Ga., and Shelbyville, Tenn.  Prior to this win, the duo topped competition at Jackson, Miss’ Mississippi Charity Horse Show, Columbia, Tenn.’s Spring Jubilee, Woodbury, Tenn.’s Lions Club Horse Show and Pulaski, Tenn.’s Red Carpet Horse Show Of The South.   I’m Spiderman and Ed Breedlove were close on their heels garnering the red streamer for Keith Breedlove of Buford, Ga.  Headed back to West Tennessee, Ronnie Stanfill and A Black Market Pusher were third for Ruby Stanfill of Lexington, Tenn.

The professional riders made their first appearance in the big oval in class 24, Three-Year-Old Walking Geldings.  Thirty-one of the 40 listed entries made their way to the big oval to work for Judge Tommy Loid and his cohorts.  Due to the large number of entries appearing, the decision was made that additional work would be needed to determine the World Champion in the division.  Fourteen of the original 31 were asked to remain to continue their work towards that sentimental journey down victory lane.  Making that trip was Obsession and Phillip Trimble winning his first Celebration blue for Jaclyn Smith of Shelbyville, Tenn.  Cashin’ in on the reserve honors was Cashin’ In At Sundown and Dick Peebles up for James Corlew Chevrolet of Clarksville, Tenn.  Stone Age and Joel Weaver took home third for Rising Star Ranch of Shelbyville, Tenn.

The amateur riders were back for class 25A, Owner-Amateur Riders on Two-Year-Old Walking Stallions.  With 35 of the 56 expecting making their presence known in the big oval, this promised to be one of the most exciting divisions of the show thus far.  Judge Huck Moss presided over the event as Call Judge. After the initial work, the panel determined that the field needed to be narrowed and additional work completed prior to the determination of a champion.  Fifteen of the original 35 were asked to remain and continue work to earn the right to head to the winner’s circle.  Rolling to the victory ride, just as they had earlier in 2006 at Shelbyville, Tenn.’s National Trainers’ Show, Columbia, Tenn.’s Walking In The Park, Shelbyville, Tenn.’s Spring Fun Show and McMinnville, Tenn.’s Warren County Horse Show, was Roll The Gold and Spud Warr riding for The Spud Warr Family of Phenix City, Ala.  Jose’ Up and Sherri Pollack proudly strolled to second in the division for Robert S Pollack of Saratoga, Calif.  Los Lonely Boy and Beverly Wood collected the yellow streamer for her mother, Judith Burgess of Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Another extra large division, with 35 of the 55 programmed entries, of Owner-Amateur Riders on Two-Year-Old Walking Stallions, class 25B, was sure to generate even more excitement for the opening night crowd on hand.  Judge Ronnie Spears led the panel in this event.  Once again, additional work was needed and the field was narrowed from the original 35 down to 17 who would continue to work with the hope that it would be they’re picture that Jack Greene would be taking under the spotlight in a few moments.   When the time was right, announcer Chip Walters called the very talented It’s Silver Dollar Time teamed up for his debut performance with Keith McSwain over for that win shot for The Dan McSwain Family of Alpharetta, Ga.  A Celebration blue, not a bad debut, not bad at all.  It’s Silver Dollar Time had been successfully shown by trainer Joe Cotten in open ranks in 2006 with wins at Jackson, Miss., Shelbyville, Tenn.’s Spring Fun Show, Woodbury, Tenn.’s Lions Club Horse Show and Pulaski, Tenn.’s Red Carpet Horse Show Of The South.  Color Me Evil and owner/exhibitor R.C. Gabehart of Knifely, Ky., rode to the reserve title.  Catch The Noon Show and owner/exhibitor Scott Green of Alpharetta, Ga., proved they were the one’s to watch as they rode to the third position.

The trainers were back for class 26A, Three-Year-Old Walking Mares.  Twenty-three of the 42 on the class sheet made their way down the hill to work as Judge Jamie Bradshaw called the gaits in the division.  When the work was complete, it was the team of Witch Revival and Brent Grider, champions earlier in the season at Columbia, Tenn.’s Spring Jubilee, making the victory pass and taking top honors back to the Bluegrass State, marking Brent’s first professional Celebration win. This big stepping black mare is proudly owned by The Tommy Grider Family of Columbia, Ky.  Bewitching Jazz and Charlie Green garnered the red ribbon for Mr and Mrs. Charles Garner of Logansville, Ga.  Mollylicious and Brock Tillman were third for Louise McCarter of Shelbyville, Tenn. 

Class 26B, Three-Year-Old Walking Mares found 25 of the 41 expected taking the rail to work for Judge Wink Groover and his staff.  Working their way to the winner’s circle in the event was the duo of Preakness and Joe Cotten, champions at the prestigious Mississippi State Charity Horse Show, riding for Dr. and Mrs. R. Rigual of San Juan, Puerto Rico and Oklahoma City, Okla.  She’s Sweet & Sassy and Tim Smith showed their stuff to ride away with the red streamer for Beverly Mc Neil of Andalusia, Ala.  Link Webb and Centerfold picked up the yellow silks for Hudson and Graves of Murfreesboro and Bell Buckle, Tenn.

Class 27A brought 17 of the 20 programmed entries for the Owner-Amateur Riders on Park Performance Walking Mares or Geldings.  The Park Performance division was new to the schedule in 2005 and was met with a great response and rave reviews.  The division is basically a “step up” from the flat shod Park Pleasure and entries can wear an action device and limited pad.  Judge Tommy Loid served as call judge for the event.  Returning to the winner’s circle were All American Ritz and owner/exhibitor Cynthia Wright of Jackson, Tenn., repeating their 2005 win in this class and just improving on their 2006 resume in which they have been dominate on the Mid South circuit with wins at Martin, Tenn.’s Purchase Area Horse Show, Byhalia, Miss.’s White Oak Classic, Henderson, Tenn.’s Chester County Horse Show, Jackson, Tenn.’s Mid South Double Point Show and Corinth, Miss.’ Magnolia Classic.  JFK’s Top Aide and Marty Irby were in the second position for Dick and Sally Reily and Marty Irby of Lewisburg and Murfreesboro, Tenn.   Mr. Rody and owner/exhibitor Paul Bryan of Thomasville, Ga., were third.

Texas Joe Black, Kathy Zeis and Dee Dee Sale



           Eighteen of the 21 with reservations for class 27B, Owner-Amateur Riders on Park Performance Walking Mares or Geldings hit the track to work as Judge Huck Moss called the gaits in the class.  Nobody likes a “cold check” (this reporter’s a collector in real life and you can be guaranteed it’s the last thing I want!), but the judging panel sure did as all five selected the team of Cold Check and Brandon Urad at the top of their card for Sheila Denny and Margo Urad of Norman, Okla.  Stan and Margo Urad, Brandon’s parents, were very proud as they made the leap over the entry gate to meet him in the winner’s circle. Another one of those Celebration moments that truly are hard to beat! Brandon and Cold Check picked up 2006 wins at the Marshall, Texas Horse Show and Murfreesboro, Tenn.’s International Grand Championships. The Broken Sky and Carrie Benedict were reserve for Austin Benedict of Glasgow, Ky.  Dollars & Sense and Charles Gavin garnered the yellow streamer for Carol Ann Gavin of Wartrace, Tenn.

Class 28 brought the Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Stallions, 15.2 and Under to the ring with 18 of the 42 entered taking the rail to work for Celebration acclaim.  A quick look down the program made one think this might just be a very exciting class.  Exciting it was with at least a half dozen current or past World Champions all working for that one coveted Celebration blue.  When the work was complete, it was the breathtaking team of Gen’s Black Gen, a 2002 & 2003 divisional World Grand Champion, and Bill Johnson winning the title with a unanimous decision of the judging panel.  This pair had 2006 conquests at Harrodsburg, Ky.’s Derby Classic, Columbia, Tenn.’s Spring Jubilee and Owingsville, Ky.’s Horse Show for William B. and Sandra Johnson of Atlanta, Ga., and Shelbyville, Tenn.  The Phantom Menace and Thom Meek, past World Grand Champions themselves, accepted the red silks with a generous response of the crowd for Deerwood Manor of Brentwood, Tenn.  Highway Robbery and Betty Corlew, who were former Two-Year-Old Amateur World Grand Champions, were third for Betty Corlew of Adams, Tenn.  Quality . . .through and through, just think what Championship night will be like!

Owner-Amateur Lady Riders on Walking Geldings were up next on the program for Class 29 with 25 of the 44 on the program making their way to the track to work under the watchful eye of Judge Jamie Bradshaw and his staff.  Picking up the win, and the fourth unanimous decision of the evening performance, was the dangerous duo of Cheatin’ Danger and Trish Harrison, repeating their 2005 win in this division, riding for Trish Harrison and Four Centuries Farm of Nashville and Greeneville, Tenn.  Walking On Thin Ice and Pat Harrington, former Novice World Grand Champions, were reserve for Joe Harrington of La Quenta, Calif.  Marketwatch and Cindy Sullivan rode for the yellow silks for Rick and Cindy Sullivan of Shelbyville, Tenn.

Trish Harrison and Judith Burgess after Cheatin Danger's win


One could tell the action was really getting ready to heat up once again as Class 30A, Owner-Amateur Riders on Four-Year-Old Walking Stallions started in the gate with 16 of the 28 programmed entries ready to work for Judge Wink Groover and his cohorts.  Again, this split featured at least six current or past World Champions or Reserve World Champions making the competition tough and the title that is won even more coveted.  When the work was complete, it was Abel and George Ann Pratt, who had picked up wins this year at Shelbyville, Tenn.’s National Trainers’ Show and Spring Fun Show and Mc Minnville, Tenn.’s Warren County Horse Show, impressing the panel and the crowd to pick up yet another across the board decision for Don Pratt of Shawnee Mission, Kansas.  Shock Jock and Becky Coleman shocked the competition to capture the red streamer for Becky Coleman of Money, Miss.  Clay Mills latest acquisition, Greyline were third for Lee Mills of Mt. Airy, N.C.

Don’t think for a minute it got any easier in class 30B, Owner-Amateur Riders on Four-Year-Old Walking Stallions.  The competition was just as tough and just as deep as 15 of the 23 with reservations stepped out there to see whom really was the very best as Judge Tommy Loid called the gaits.  When you have a team with a heart as big as Texas, they’re pretty hard to beat and that’s the best way to describe the outstanding performance displayed by Texas Joe Black and Kathy Zeis riding for The Zeis Family of Douglasville, Ga.  This win was preceded by top honors at Shelbyville, Tenn.’s National Trainers’ Show, Shelbyville, Tenn.’s Central High School Band Boosters Horse Show, Eagleville, Tenn.’s Lions Club Horse Show and Woodbury, Tenn.’s Lions Club Horse Show.  Jacked Up and Lee Wall accepted the red silks for Lee Wall and Mike McGartland of Jackson, Miss., and Fort Worth, Texas.  Suzanne Littell and On The Line picked up the yellow streamers for Moore and Littell of Catherine, Ala.

The professional trainers were back in the big oval for one final appearance of the Thursday night schedule, class 31, Walking Geldings 15.2 and Under.  Sixteen of the 25 expected entered the ring before the time clock expired as Judge Huck Moss took his turn calling the action from center ring.  When the work was complete, it was Tex’s Dinero and Steve Aymett headed to the winner’s circle for Kelly Sherman of Dallas, Texas.  He’s Wild Eyed and Wicked and Knox Blackburn were reserve for The Mike Walden Family of Ooltewah, Tenn.  Last year’s winners in the division, He’s Dr Cash and Jimmy McConnell were third for Larry and Farrah McAlexander of Oxford, Miss.

The Owner-Amateur Lady Riders on Show Pleasure Walking Horses, class 32A, brought 18 of the 22 on the class sheets down the chute to work for Judge Ronnie Spears and the panel.  Coming off a reserve World Championship in the Novice division on Wednesday Morning and 2006 wins at Shelbyville, Tenn.’s Central High Band Boosters Show and Fayetteville, Tenn.’s Blue Ribbon Horse Show, Carolyn Rutner and I’m Armed and Lethal stepped it up a notch in the big oval and make their way to the winner’s circle taking the honors home to Northport, Ala.  Cristy Cain and Absolutely Flawless were just that to pick up the red streamers for C & C Stables, LLC of Lawrenceville, Ga.  Coin’s Black Stroke and Jean O’Brien were third for Reggie Pimental of Bell Buckle, Tenn.

Class 32B, Owner-Amateur Lady Riders on Show Pleasure Walking Horses found 14 of the 23 with reservations making their way to the ring to work for the final Celebration blue of the evening as Judge Jamie Bradshaw called the gaits in the event.  Riding to that last blue of the night was Suzanne Littell and Zulu capturing the honor with a unanimous decision of the judging panel for Moore & Littell of Catherine, Ala.  I’m Game and Yvonna Mathis were reserve for John Weihl and Yvonna Mathis of Kings Mountain, N.C.  Ya Maka Me Crazy and Holly Puckett of Wartrace, Tenn., collected the yellow silks in the division.

And with that, the first evening performance of the 68th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration was in the record books. It was obvious throughout the evening that there was a great Celebration crowd on hand, cheering on their favorites every step of the way, Announcer Chip Walters announced paid attendance of 21,832 and actual attendance of 11, 680, both in the top five largest of all time for the opening evening performance.  The great thing is that it will just get better from here with a action packed schedule of classes for Friday night and Saturday morning and then, we’ll get our first look at the contenders for 2006 World Grand Championship in the Aged Stallion preliminaries on Saturday evening.  But, don’t forget about some of the other fun things going on around the grounds as well.  The Celebration Trade Fair is open from 10-7 daily and the Celebration Barbecue Cookout will be on the schedule for Saturday afternoon.  There’s fun to be had everywhere you look, make sure you don’t miss out on a thing!

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