By Linda Scrivner

STARKVILLE, Miss. - The fourth annual Alpha Gamma Rho Spring Sensation was a huge success with 310 entries showing at the spacious Mississippi Horse Park and Agricenter March 7-8. As evidenced by the number of entries, this show has grown each year with more entries and more exhibitors.

America’s only national agricultural fraternity, Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity sponsored this show with the assistance of show manager Mike LaBrot and show advisers Paul Boals and Brent Carnathan.

Bill Bobo of Shelbyville, Tenn., judged the 48-class event, which concluded Saturday evening with an exhibitor’s reception including barbecue, drinks, slaw and beans.

The Championship Stake had nine top entries. As they entered the ring one at a time, anticipation grew. The team of Bill Cantrell and U C I’m Ultra Gold was selected to exit the ring with the tricolor ribbon and silver platter after coming on strong in the class. The crowd voiced their approval as the team made made its victory pass. Cantrell and Warr from Phenix City, Ala., are the owners of this entry that is trained at Bill Cantrell Stables. The new team of Tim Hilley and former world grand champion Pushover’s Citation walked out with the reserve streamer for the Jim Sullivan family of Olive Branch, Miss. Wayne Greg and Pushover’s Gold Standard were selected for the third position from the strong field of championship contenders for owner Guy Burkhalter of Enid, Miss., and Abernathy Stables of Olive Branch, Miss.

The Racking Grand Championship had six top entries with Gen’s Trade Mark and Larry Taylor being selected by judge Bobo. Reserve was the team of Armed & Pushing and Tim Holley while third went to Dangerous Mudslide and Wade Crum.

Link Webb of Webb Stables led the blue ribbon tally with four blues. Abernathy Stables, Wade Crum Stables, Tim Holley Stables and Tim Smith Stables enjoyed three blues. Dual blues were won by Bill Cantrell Stables, Etheredge Stables, Britt Huffstatler, Karla Massey, Mickey Sandridge, Robert Stivers of Magnolia Stables, Larry Taylor, Stephen Tidwell and Laurie Toone of Circle T Stables.

Webb Stables’ first blue came in the Open Amateur class, which was filled with top entries. World champion Sanman and Pam Russell made their debut in the cantering classes a blue ribbon one. Russell was nervous about their first show cantering and said that she didn’t need an extra hour to worry. The show was started an hour late because the organist was delayed by a tornado and stormy weather Friday evening. Russell had nothing to worry about though. She and her sorrel mount cantered easily both ways of the ring. After winning her blue Russell then turned her thoughts and worries toward her grandson, Benjamin Bowen, who made his show ring debut Saturday night in the 11 and Under division.

James Vernon directed the next Webb Stables blue ribbon entry, Back To The Ritz to the top of the 14-entry Three-Year-Old Amateur Stallion class. One of the neat things about a new show season is seeing the new teams and where they show. Starkville was Vernon’s first show aboard Back To The Ritz, a horse that won numerous blues in 2003 with trainer Link Webb aboard. Saturday evening Webb won the Two-Year-Old Stallion title for Bob Ramsbottom. This Jose’ Jose’ colt was raised and bred by the Ramsbottom family and they were especially thrilled with his blue ribbon debut.

Webb’s fourth blue was won by Flash Jack in the very competitive 12-entry Three-Year-Old Stallion division.

Dr. Tommy Vinson rode to the top of the Two-Year-Old Amateur Stallion class on Key Wiz under the Abernathy Stables banner for the first of their three blues. Key Wiz is by Vinson’s stallion The Master Key. Abernathy Stables also won the second largest class of the show, the 19-entry Ladies Amateur Specialty, with Betty Sue Burkhalter directing Pushover’s Gold Standard to the win.

Another horse of Dr. Vinson’s, Undercover Pusher won the Juvenile Park Pleasure Specialty title with Dane Calahan in the irons for Abernathy Stables’ third blue.

Horses under the guidance of trainer Walter Harris and Wade Crum Stables won a trio of blues. The first victory was in the Open Amateur Racking class with Stock’s Black April and Cindy Sartin. Extra Cash Grey Eagle and Marilyn Lubin claimed dual blues in both the Open Park Pleasure class Friday and the Amateur Park Pleasure Specialty class Saturday.

Tim Holley won the first of his three blues with Armed And Pushin in the Style Racking division. The new team taking a winning pass Saturday night created quite a stir. Benjamin Bowen made his show ring debut aboard Hotline in the Juvenile 11 and Under class. This hard riding young gentleman and the blaze faced gelding had the crowd cheering from the moment they entered the ring. Grandmother Pam Russell smiled, yelled and cried all at the same time when Bowen’s name was called out to make the victory pass.

Holley Stables’ third blue was won in the largest class of the show, the 20-entry Amateur Specialty. Claiming the top position was the team of Jamie Caine and The Cash Master.

The team of Tim Smith and Lady Pzazz won the first of three blues for Tim Smith Stables in the Mare and Gelding class. Smith continued his winning streak in the Four-Year-Old class. Rainbow Of Colors and Smith entertained the crowd when they earned that blue. In the very next class, the 15-entry Open Show Pleasure Specialty, Smith returned to capture the blue aboard Ritz Cracker in their debut performance.

Bill Cantrell Stables’ second blue was won by another new team. Dr. Linda Jones directed Mighty Brew down victory lane in the Four-Year-Old Amateur Specialty class. Tears were once again the order of the day when Jones was met by a happy and excited Haley Lane at the gate. Jones told Haley that they had purchased Mighty Brew for her to show in pony classes.

Both of Bud Dunn and Son Stables’ blues were won by a black head-shaking horse, Dumas. Dumas first carried Renee Carlton to the top spot in the 14-entry 15.2 and Under Amateur Specialty, and then Saturday night he carried Jennifer Dunn to the blue in the 15. 2 and Under Open division blue.

Daniel Cole rode Can Do’s Challenger to earn the Two and Three-Year-Old Racking title for Etheredge Stables Friday. On Saturday, Mike Etheredge claimed the Four-Year-Old Racking blue aboard Just Southern Magic.

Britt Huffstatler won two blues in the spotted division at Starkville. First he won the Open Spotted Lite-Shod Specialty title with Patches Moondancer. That was followed by a victory in the Open Spotted, Open Shod class aboard Colors All Over.

Papa’s Show Girl and Karla Massey claimed two Starkville blues. They won both the Lite-Shod Specialty and the Lite-Shod Open titles.

Mickey Sandridge claimed the Western Plantation Pleasure Specialty title with Hallelujah, I’m A Strokin’. Ira Sandridge directed Recall’s Promise to the blue in the Amateur Owned and Trained Racking class.

Foolish Dollar made quite an impression on judge Bobo and the crowd winning dual blues. Friday night, Robert Stivers directed her to the top of the Three-Year-Old Mare and Gelding blue. Saturday, Linda Houpt and Foolish Dollar claimed victory in the 10-entry Three-Year-Old Amateur Mare and Gelding class.

In addition to the win in the Racking Stake, Larry Taylor trained the team that won the Youth Racking title. Patrick Williamson and Papa’s Blacklace won the Youth Racking blue ribbon.

Horses trained by Stephen Tidwell also won dual blues. Tidwell and Got Busted claimed the Three and Four-Year-Old Spotted blue. Meagan Tidwell made the victory pass in the Juvenile Spotted class with Symbol of Gunslinger.

The trio of Olympic Love, rider Joseph Abernathy and trainer Laurie Toone claimed two blues. They won both the Trail Pleasure and the Amateur Gaited Pleasure blues.

Joe Bean directed Sundance Kid to the top of the Two-Year-Old Spotted class. Another first was shown to victory by Brock Tillman of Black Hawk Stables. The Lady Hawk, sired by Pusher’s Black Hawk, won the Two-Year-Old Mare and Gelding title. This was the first offspring of his to be shown under saddle.

Casey Roberts of Roberts Stables claimed the Trail Pleasure Racking blue with Evil’s Stroker. The first blue of Saturday evening was won by I’m A Dollar Or Two and Jim Hardy in the Weanling class.

Smith Stables not only won the blue in the yearling class, they won first, second and third in this large class. David Smith won the blue with Stormy Sea; they were followed by Lindsey Smith and Savannah Lace in reserve; and Casey Smith and Storm By Early Dawn in third out of a class of nine entries.

Ebony’s Coin Dream strolled to the blue in the Amateur Owned and Trained Specialty class for the third consecutive year. Marilyn Scott was in the irons and Bob Scott threw his hat in the air as he went in to pick up the trophy.

Melinda Hamby directed Master Craft to the top of the Country Pleasure class. Winning brought tears to the forefront once again as Michelle Walker directed Spellbound Generator to win the blue in the 10-entry Juvenile Riders 12-17 Specialty class under the Summercrest Farms banner.

James Vernon won his second blue of the show as he made another debut ride. Vernon won the Two-Year-Old Amateur Mare and Gelding title aboard Sho-Nuf Pretty Woman under the Swingin Gate Stables banner.

Fourteen talented entries answered the gate call in the Show Pleasure Amateur Specialty class. 1-800 Collect and Joe Cliff were the winning team under the guidance of Donald Shubert.

Bill Williams proudly wore the blue from the ring in the Four-Year-Old Amateur Mare and Gelding Specialty class with Major Desire. Woods Stables prepared this team for the ring.

The crowd always gets excited and screams for their favorite as they speed around the ring in the Speed Racking class. Mr. Stroker’s Ace and Kenneth Miller out did the others for judge Bobo’s approval.

When March rolls around in 2005, you need to attend this growing show put on by the dedicated Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity brothers. The Spring Sensation has top horses, an excellent facility with great comradeship and is a great place to start the show season.