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John Deere Juvenile Challenge: AJs High, Million Dollar Kiss

October 17, 2014     E-mail this page to a friend!

Stories by Andrea Caudill, courtesy of AQHA

AJs High a local threat in John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship

The top-two horses in the $50,490 John Deere Prairie Meadows Juvenile Challenge – AJs High and Coronas Concierge – could benefit from home track advantage when they meet highly competitive rivals in the $150,000 John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship (G2) over 350 yards.

Michael Teel’s homebred AJs High (Apollitical Jess-Regally Rare by Rare Form) won the John Deere Prairie Meadows Juvenile Challenge by a head while Tom and Bill Maher’s Coronas Concierge (Corona Cartel-Dianetogetcha Mr Eye Opener) was moved from third place to second place through a disqualification. Coronas Concierge crossed the finish line one-half length behind AJs High.

AJs High, the 7-10 favorite, ran a professional race from the eighth post position and accelerated throughout the 350 yards to get the win. Coronas Concierge drew the outside post and made a strong late rally to finish third.

Trained by Charley Hunt, AJs High’s career got off to a promising start this spring at Remington Park when he qualified for the $791,000 Remington Park Oklahoma-bred Futurity (RG3). The gelding was then off until he returned for the trials to the John Deere Prairie Meadows Juvenile Challenge on August 30 and responded with a crushing two-length victory as the 8-5 favorite.

Coronas Concierge won her trial and then the finals of the $40,150 North Central QHRA Futurity at Canterbury Park. The Jason Olmstead-trained filly went to the front in the North Central QHRA Futurity and then held off his rivals to win by a neck.

Nadia Marcoux’s Jumping Guitar (Tac It Like A Man-Shine My Guitar by Corona Cartel) brings a four-race winning streak at Ajax Downs in Canada into the John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship. Those four wins consisted of the trials and then the finals to the $24,000 John Deere Ajax Downs Juvenile Challenge and the $115,326 Alex Picov Memorial Futurity. She was the 7-5 favorite in the Picov and surged in the final yards to get the neck win.

Dustin Cox’s First Ginlark (My First Moon-Ginlark Perry by Mr Jess Perry) made a successful jump to the stakes ranks in her latest start when she won the $39,420 John Deere Will Rogers Downs Juvenile Challenge by a head at 3-1 odds. The Joe Neff-trained filly has raced to three wins, two seconds and two thirds from seven career starts.

The Dean Frey’s homebred and Jaymee Love (Ivory James-Love To Finish First by Separatist) was moved up to first place through a disqualification in the $29,248 John Deere Grand Prairie Juvenile Challenge, her latest start. The filly – who started her career at Los Alamitos – won her maiden when she overwhelmed her John Deere Grand Prairie Juvenile Challenge trial competition by 1 1/2-lengths.

Million Dollar Kiss is ready for the Challenge Championships limelight

Stakes winners are not an easy thing to come by in the racing industry. Having a homebred stakes winner is even more precious, and Jerry Chapman is appreciating every minute with his homebred contender Million Dollar Kiss. The Waco, Texas, resident will be at Prairie Meadows this weekend to watch his homebred filly contest the $150,000 John Deere Juvenile Challenge (G2) on Saturday night.

“It’s fun to have a horse to run in a race like this,” Chapman said. “I’ve been doing this for a long time, and it’s so hard to find a stakes winner. You see people that get in the business, buy two and both of them are runners! I’ve been buying and raising horses for 35 years, and she’s about as good as I’ve had. Just shows you how hard it is to find a runner.”

Chapman grew up around horses, and got involved in racing in the 1980s. He bought Million Dollar Kiss’ dam, Stoli Kiss, as a yearling at the 2004 Heritage Place Yearling Sale. The mare has a solid pedigree from top to bottom, as her sire is champion and champion sire Stoli, and her dam is a half-sister to champion and major producer Black Sable ($271,592). Stoli Kiss would make 15 career starts, and lit the board in 10 of those races. She would earn $14,525 before retiring.

“We raced her as a 2-year-old, and she done pretty good,” Chapman said. “Her best speed index wasn’t but an 88, but she won a few races for us. Had some knee problems or she probably would’ve won more. She was really a nice mare.”

She headed into her new career as a broodmare, producing race winners and Register of Merit-earners Shy Episode (by Dashs Last Episode) and Xtra Cash (by Onthewingsofglory).

On the advice of J.E. Jumonville, Chapman decided to try crossing his Stoli mare with champion Jess Louisiana Blue, who from nine crops to race has sired the earners of more than $10 million and has had nicking success with Stoli mares.

Chapman crossed the nearly-black stallion on his nearly-black mare, and was shocked when he caught his first glimpse of the newborn result.

“She is a really bright sorrel roan,” he said. “I looked at her and thought, ‘Uh oh, there’s been a mistake!’ ”

But his wildly bright filly was no mistake, and while her coat was quite different from her family’s, her speed was quite the same.

Million Dollar Kiss has won three of her five starts, with earnings of $36,636.

She made her career debut in March at Louisiana Downs, then returned a few weeks later to break her maiden in style at Sam Houston Race Park, dominating the 300-yard race by nearly three lengths. She stretched out to 350 in the John Deere Sam Houston Juvenile Challenge trials, and again drew clear to win by 1 1/2 lengths. She returned in the May 11 final that was worth $68,490, and dueled gamely to win by a neck over Freakin Runaway. Her most recent start was in June, when she made a bid in her Firecracker Futurity (G2) trial at Delta, finishing fourth.

She will head into the Juvenile off a freshening, but has been preparing at Prairie Meadows for several weeks.

As for Stoli Kiss, after she had her 2013 foal, named Morning Glory (by Onthewingsofglory), Chapman had to make a business decision.

“It’s kind of funny, I decided to sell some mares, I had too many,” Chapman said. “I sold (Stoli Kiss) to a lady in Indiana right before Million Dollar Kiss started racing. That’s the way it goes. (The new owner) is just thrilled to death to own her. She’s the kind of people you like to sell horses to; the mare went to a good home. And hopefully Million Dollar Kiss will replace her for me.”

He describes his young filly as a sweet-tempered horse around the barn, but one that knows her job on the racetrack. After this race, Chapman says he’s hoping to bring her back to the farm to rest and recover for a potential sophomore campaign, and maybe even breed her.

“Million Dollar Kiss is just such a nice mare,” he said. “I don’t know what kind of mare we got, guess we’ll find out after the Championship race. We’re going just to have a good time. We don’t know how we’re gonna run, but we’re looking forward to going to Iowa. It’s fun to have a horse to run in a race like this.”