Five AQHA Bank of America Challenge Championships will lead an action-packed card for Quarter Horse racing Saturday at Horseshoe Indianapolis in Shelbyville.
The five Graded Stakes races have been drawn and post positions are now assigned to the regional qualifiers in all divisions of the series.
Leading the way in the $250,000 Grade 1 Bank of America Challenge Championship is Danjer, who has ventured to Indiana in search of his third straight title in the race. The six-year-old gelding, trained and bred by Dean Frey, looks to add to his $1.8 million bankroll and will be the favorite of the 10-horse field.
Danjer (photo) comes to Indiana on a three-race win streak and is three for four in 2022. Regular rider Cody Smith comes in to guide Danjer from post two for Frey, Billy Smith and Downtime Enterprises, LLC, who own the world champion son of FDD Dynasty seeking his 19th career win in the event.
Another previous winner who will search for her second title in the past three years is Lynnder 16 from the Jason Olmstead Stable. The six-year-old sorrel mare by Apollitical Jess has more than $820,000 on her card and comes into the event off a win at Will Rogers Downs in the $36,000 Distaff Challenge. The Apollitical Jess mare, owned by Tom Maher and Richard Tobin, has won three races this year in five starts, making her a favorite for the Distaff title. She has drawn post eight and Edwin Escobedo comes in to ride.
“The horses all settled in and hauled up here good,” said Olmstead, who is based at his farm in Pryor, Oklahoma. “This cool weather has them all revved up and ready to go. Lynnder 16 is the kind of mare that makes it home wherever she hangs her hat. As long as she shows up and runs her race, she will be pretty tough in there.”
Local favorite Paradyce, owned and trained by Claudio Barraza, will take a shot at Lynnder 16. The three-year-old grey filly by Corona Cartel has won three of her six starts this year. She will challenge the older mares from post three with James Flores aboard.
“I hope the home field advantage helps us out,” said Barraza. “She knows this track and has run well here all year. Obviously, there are Grade 1 class mares in here, but I have faith in her. She has run all her allowances this year against older horses, and it hasn’t bothered her, so I’m not worried about her taking on the older mares.”
Another local trainer locked in with three from her barn is Jessi Vazquez, who recently set records for most wins and most purse earnings by a female Quarter Horse trainer in one season at Horseshoe Indianapolis. She comes into the Challenge Championships with the temperamental One Coldhearted Diva, who won the local regional Distaff Challenge. The four-year-old by One Fabulous Eagle is owned by Bennett Racing Stable and will look for her second straight win.
“I love the fact that all three drew in the middle of the competition,” said Vazquez. “They love to have horses on both sides of them during the race. One Coldhearted Diva drew post two. Ms Flaming Finish drew post four in the Juvenile. Dr Tool drew the outside in post eight of ten in the Challenge, but that’s okay for him. I’m pleased with all our draws.”
Racing gets underway at 6 p.m. Saturday for the 30th AQHA Bank of America Challenge Championships. A total of 11 races will be held with the final seven dedicated to the Graded Stakes for the Challenge races. The final race will be the $269,627 Bank of America Challenge Championships to cap off the largest night of Quarter Horse racing in the state of Indiana with purse money over the $1 million mark.