Texas-bred Champions Honored

Jack Knowlton, managing partner of Sackatoga Stable, told those in attendance at the Texas Thoroughbred Association’s annual awards dinner Jan. 20 in Austin that horse racing is the only sport in which the “little guy” can compete alongside the wealthy participants.

“Six guys from high school put up $5,000 apiece. You can’t do that and buy a basketball team or football team, but you can buy a horse and win the Kentucky Derby (gr. I),” Knowlton said.

“We showed that there are opportunities for the little guy in the sport of kings and we now have a lifetime of memories,” Knowlton said of the group that campaigns 2003 Derby and Preakness (gr. I) winner Funny Cide.

Knowlton gave credit to Joe and Anne McMahon, who raised the son of Distorted Humor at their New York Farm, Tony Everard, who bought him as a yearling, broke him at his Florida training center, and sold him to Sackatoga, trainer Barclay Tagg, who “does things his own way,” and jockey Jose Santos, who proved at a critical point in his career he could still handle a top horse.

Funny Cide finished third in the Belmont (gr. I) in his bid for the Triple Crown and Knowlton said, “I will go to my grave wondering what might have happened had we not had such lousy weather,” on Belmont day.

Funny Cide, now 7, has had his first real freshening since between his 2 -and 3-year-old years, Knowlton said, and recently joined Tagg at Gulfstream. Knowlton said he would like to see Funny Cide run this year on synthetic surfaces and turf.

The top award, the T.I. “Pops” Harkins Award for contributions to the association and racing in Texas, went to four-time TTA president and Diamond D Ranch owner Ed Dowell. The Allen Bogan Memorial Award, for the member of the year, went to veterinarian Katie Hayes.

Drs. Ken and Linda Quirk were The Blood-Horse breeders of the year and also were represented as breeders of 2006 Horse of the Year Dixie Meister (by Holzmeister). His dam, Dixity Do Dah, by Dixieland Band, was Broodmare of the Year.

The champion 2-year-old filly was Wrenice (by Uncle Abbie), bred and owned by Stewart Hamblen. Datrick (by Favorite Trick), bred and owned by Heiligbrodt Stable, was champion 2-year-old male.

The champion 3-year-old filly was Open Meadows (by Open Forum), bred and owned by Tom Durant, and the champion 3-year-old male was Upstream (by Open Forum), bred and owned by Will Farish.

The champion older mare was I. B’s Halo (by Sunny’s Halo), bred by Dana Dean and owned by World War IV Racing, and champion older male was Dixie Meister, who races for Ro Parra and Gary Tanaka.

The Thoroughbred Times leading freshman sire was Festival of Light.