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Merial Distaff Challenge: Shez Jess Toxic, Im A Feature Girl


October 18, 2014     E-mail this page to a friend!

Stories by Andrea Caudill, courtesy of AQHA

Shez Jess Toxic heads Merial Distaff


The Dean Frey’s homebred Shez Jess Toxic, a close third in last year’s $100,000 Merial Distaff Challenge Championship (G1), brings her stakes-tested credentials into the $125,000 Merial Distaff Challenge Championship (G1) at 400 yards.

The race will be an “all pink” race to help raise awareness of breast cancer during October, Breast Cancer Awareness month. Jockeys will wear pink silks and the horses will have pink saddle towels.

Shez Jess Toxic (Take Off Jess-Dashing Fly Lady by Victory Dash) has competed in stakes races in her latest 13 starts and 15 of her 16 most recent efforts. In the other race, she was second in her trial to the $171,000 Southern California Derby (G1) in 2012.

While Shez Jess Toxic is winless from six outs this year, she has four thirds against stakes company at Sam Houston Race Park, Remington Park and Los Alamitos. She was third in the $100,000 Charger Bar Handicap (G2), third in the $29,000 Merial Sam Houston Distaff Challenge at Sam Houston Race Park and recently has been back at Los Alamitos with thirds in the $16,000 Native Empress Handicap and the $24,000 Merial Los Alamitos Distaff Challenge. In the Merial Los Alamitos Distaff Challenge, she was beaten by $156,250 Los Alamitos Winter Championship (G1) winner Nellie Delaney and 2013 champion aged mare Check N Fetch.

Rodney Verret’s Madresita (Pappastio-Mongoose Jet Eye by Mr Eye Opener) has been known for her quickness, but she reversed her form to make an impressive late run in the $32,000 Merial Prairie Meadows Distaff Challenge and win by a head. In her seven previous outs, she raced at distances from 220 yards to 350 yards.

Madresita won the $21,100 Roble Rojo Bonus Challenge Stakes at 300 yards back in February at Hialeah Park.

Paul Treadwell’s Xoom (Shazoom-Dashing Dion by Heza Fast Man) was the close second to Madresita in the Merial Prairie Meadows Distaff Challenge. The Edward Ross Hardy-trained mare came into the Merial Prairie Meadows Distaff Challenge off thirds in the $53,000 Canterbury Derby and the $25,000 Merial Canterbury Downs Distaff Challenge.

Garlyn Shelton’s Stoli Angel (Stoli-Eyesa Shaker by Eyesa Special) should be dangerous, especially if you throw out her fifth-place finish in the Merial Prairie Meadows Distaff Challenge. Before that race, the Russell Harris-trained mare won the Merial Arapahoe Park Distaff Challenge and had very close seconds in the $20,000 Silestone Stakes and the $29,000 Merial Sam Houston Distaff Challenge this year.

Im A Feature Girl is a Challenge Championship veteran


There are seven horses entered in the Bank of America Challenge Championships that have multiple-Challenge Championship experiences on their resumes, including three of last year’s winners (Vodka With Ice, Raising Kain and Honoroso), but only two have been to three of the events. Those two are distaffers Shez Jess Toxic (2011, 2013 and 2014) and Im A Feature Girl (2012-2014).

Jorge Haddad’s Im A Feature Girl is set to load up in the $100,000 Merial Distaff Challenge Championship (G1) and looking to improve on her previous tries in the prestigious race. In 2012’s edition at Prairie Meadows, she was fifth behind champion Fredaville and last year she was fourth behind champion Check N Fetch.

The 5-year-old mare was bred by the Jumonville family of Ventress, Louisiana, and is by Feature Mr Jess out of the Special Effort mare This Girl Is Special. Haddad purchased the filly at the 2010 Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale.

Her sire, Feature Mr Jess, is one of the sport’s leading sires, with progeny earnings of more than $24.1 million. Among his runners are world champion and All American Futurity (G1) winner Heartswideopen ($1,885,283) and champions Jess You And I ($1,851,691), Feature Mr Bojangles ($899,434), Stylish Jess BR ($804,298) and Brenda Beautiful ($337,176).

Dam This Girl Is Special is an unraced daughter of American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame member Special Effort and the blue hen mare The Louisiana Girl. This Girl Is Special is also the dam of Thisfeatureisspecial ($190,758), who last year was second in the Merial Distaff Challenge Championship, and stakes-placed runner Eyein The Feature ($125,913).

Haddad took his time getting Im A Feature Girl rolling in her racing career, as he gave her only three starts as a 2-year-old. She came back strong as a sophomore and would win or place in seven of 10 starts. Last year, she would race in almost exclusively stakes (except for one stakes trial), almost always lighting the board.

She opened up this year with a fourth-place run in the $100,000 Charger Bar Handicap (G2) and, in April, won the $29,160 Merial Sam Houston Distaff Challenge, defeating fellow Championship finalists Stoli Angel and Shez Jess Toxic. In June she was second in the Selma Stakes and most recently fourth in the Hill Country Dash Bonus Challenge.

To date, she has won or placed in 11 of 26 starts and earned $79,331.

Rested since July, she will break from Post 7 in the $100,000 Merial Distaff Challenge Championship on Saturday, the seventh race on the card.

After this race, Haddad is considering her future path. While she might race again, with her strong pedigree and race record backing her up, he is also considering her future as a broodmare.

Haddad stands the stallions Giorgino and The Louisiana Cartel on his Haddad Ranch at Seguin, Texas. Giorgino, a son of Apollo (TB) out of the First Down Dash mare Las Alamitos, won or placed in 16 of 28 starts and earned $324,004. A three-time stakes winner, he also contested the 2012 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1), and might be considered as a good cross to produce a future Challenge contender.