States Select Top Horses for First 'Challenge'

Horsemen's associations from 11 states have submitted their selections for starting positions in the first NTRA Great State Challenge, presented by John Deere and Fed Ex, on Dec. 7 at Sam Houston Race Park in Texas.

The NTRA Great State Challenge is comprised of six races, each worth up to $275,000. The state whose horses perform best in the six Challenge races will be declared the NTRA Great State Challenge champion.

Modeled on the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, the Great State Challenge races are limited to horses from jurisdictions where the official horsemen's association is an NTRA member.

The top eight NTRA-member horsemen's associations, located in California, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Texas based on current dues, have been guaranteed one horse in each race. Horses representing other state associations will be granted one position in the main body of the field.

Invitations to horsemen will be sent Nov. 27. Post positions for the NTRA Great State Challenge races will be drawn Dec. 4 at Houston's Reliant Stadium, home of the NFL's Houston Texans.

Among the horses submitted by state organizations that are in line for automatic berths are:

GSC Classic at 1 1/8 miles: Grey Memo (California), Best of the Rest (Florida), and Easyfromthegitgo (Kentucky)

GSC Turf at 1 1/8 miles on the grass: Forbidden Apple (Florida), Continental Red (California), and Mystery Giver (Illinois)

GSC Sprint at six furlongs: Disturbingthepeace (California), Day Trader (Kentucky), and Deer Run (Maryland)

GSC Distaff at 1 1/16 miles: Take Charge Lady (Kentucky), Two Item Limit, (Illinois), and Graceful Cat (Washington)

GSC Juvenile at seven furlongs: Funny Cide (New York), Posse (Kentucky), and Only the Best (California)

GSC Juvenile Fillies at seven furlongs: Humorous Lady (California), Midnight Cry (Kentucky), and Parting (Texas)

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association and Breeders' Cup will fund a guaranteed purse of $175,000 for each race, plus $50,000 in purses for Breeders' Cup-nominated horses. An additional $50,000 comes from each participating state breeders' fund, to be paid to each individual state-bred horse that finishes in an awarded position.