The 2019 Darley Awards and Stakes

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Steve Andersen


The Gillises’ dynamic duo, EASTER MAN (Burning Sand x Angel Proof by NF Proof), left, and QUICK SAND AA (Burning Sand x Triumphs Silkie by Seyvilla Triumph), made it a photo finish in the 2019 Darley Stakes Sprint at Sam Houston Park, March 22, in a near repeat of their dead heat last March at the same track. This time Easter Man (#8) prevailed. Both are trained by Jerenesto Torrez. Easter Man was ridden by Carol Cedeno, who was named 2018 Darley Jockey of the Year.

Chief Steward of the Arabian Racing Cup, Michelle Morgan, left, and Denise Gault, right, present Darley Breeder of the Year and Owner of the Year awards to Betty and Joe Gillis. The Gillises' horses dominated on U.S. tracks last year.



he 32nd annual Darley Awards, celebrating the best of American Arabian racing, moved from its recent home in California to Texas this year for a weekend of racing and a black-tie dinner in honor of the 2018 champions. Hosted by Jonathan Horowitz, Denver sportscaster and a longtime Arabian racing enthusiast, the Darley Awards were held at the St. Regis Hotel in Houston. That put the ceremony nearly in the back yard of owners and breeders Joe and Betty Gillis. The awards dinner on March 23 at the St. Regis Hotel was their night. The Gillises, of Columbus, Mississippi, took home five awards — Horse of the Year and Older Horse of the Year with Quick Sand AA, Three-Year-Old Colt of the Year with Burn Em Joey, and the distinction of Owners and Breeders of the Year.

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UPTOWN SANDY GIRL (Burning Sand x Wibwilcca by *Wilkolak), pictured here winning the Darley Distaff on March 22 at Sam Houston Park, was named Darley Four-Year-Old Filly at the gala the next night. This was the second consecutive win for Uptown Sandy Girl.



Jon and Krista Henningsgard, owners of UPTOWN SANDY GIRL, Darley Four-Year-Old Filly of the Year, with Claudia Spears, from whom they purchased foundation mare Wibwilcca.

“This is almost embarrassing,” Joe Gillis said after his fourth trip to the stage with his wife to accept the honor as Owner of the Year. “You can’t do this without a good team. We have a great team.” The equine star of the evening was Quick Sand AA (Burning Sand x Triumphs Silkie by Seyvilla Triumph), who had an unbeaten record in six starts in 2018, winning stakes at Sam Houston Race Park in Texas, Santa Anita in California, Delaware Park, historic Churchill Downs in Kentucky, and Lone Star Park between Dallas and Fort Worth. He earned $185,340 — the only Darley champion in 2018 to surpass six figures in earnings. Quick Sand AA is trained by Jerenesto Torrez, who was honored for the second consecutive year as Trainer of the Year. Joe and Betty Gillis bred Quick Sand AA, who Joe Gillis said began his career in less than championship form. “He’s an example of heart and hard work,” he said. “He started as an average horse. He tried to be a Quarter Horse. He wanted to come out of the gate and win everything in the first 100 yards. This is a special award for a special horse. Every year he gets better and he continues to get better. Jerenesto has done a wonderful job of teaching him how to run.” The Gillises had 20 winners from 57 starters as owners, a group led by Quick Sand AA and Burn Em Joey. Their runners earned $392,095. They owned all three nominees for Older Horse of the Year, including Easter Man and Sand Victor. As breeders, Joe and Betty Gillis had 25 winners from 74 starters. Aside from the runners who raced in their name, they also bred Dream Pearl. “This is quite an honor,” Joe Gillis said. “We’ve been breeding for 28 years now. We were blessed to start with some good foundation horses. I love the foals. We’re there when

they’re born, we watch them grow, and it’s a great feeling. They’re like your children.” This was a record fourth consecutive year that Joe and Betty Gillis were honored as Breeders of the Year and Owners of the Year. In other awards, Dance With Me BW was recognized as Three-Year-Old Filly of the Year, while Colors In Motion was named Four-Year-Old Colt/Gelding of the Year. Uptown Sandy Girl was the 4-Year-Old Filly of the Year. Dream Pearl gained the honor of Older Mare of the Year for the second time in three years. Burn Em Joey and Quick Sand AA are full brothers by Burning Sand out of Triumphs Silkie, by Seyvilla Triumph. Burn Em Joey won four of seven starts and earned $45,500 in 2018, clinching the Three-Year-Old Colt of the Year title with a five-length win in the Delaware Juvenile Championship against five rivals at a mile and 70 yards last September. “I’m proud of this horse,” Joe Gillis said. “He’s really special. Joey had a hard time, but he did it.” Dance With Me BW (Grilla x Shall We Dance BW by Line Dancer) won two of five starts and earned $15,900, with the wins coming in a maiden race in her debut in July at Delaware Park and a conditions race at Lone Star Park at the end of the year. Dianne Waldron’s RoseBrook Farms owns Dance With Me BW. Waldron was accompanied to the stage to accept the award by her daughter Leah Killingworth Bates and her grandchildren. Waldron recalled that Dance With Me BW traces through her dam’s pedigree to one of her foundation mares from the 1980s — EI Talquahjamasna — who was a former endurance horse. The same female family produced Dixie Darlene, the 1998 Horse of the Year. “They’re my passion and I love them,” Waldron said

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Deborah Mihaloff, second from left, owner of COLORS IN MOTION, (Dahess x Ovour the Rainbow by *Nivour de Cardonne), Darley Four-Year-Old Colt of the Year, and trainer Lynn Ashby, second from right. A champion of Arabian racing since the 1980s, Deb's gracious acceptance speech is here: “I would like to thank the Arabian Racing Cup for continuing to provide the Darley Awards,” says Deb Mihaloff. “This recognition is very important for those of us who breed and race the Arabian horse. The Darley Awards Golden Horse is recognized around the world as quality of the highest standard and I thank the voting academy for giving this award to Colors In Motion. “I would like to thank the Arabian Jockey Club for their implementation of enhanced DNA testing, with a special thanks to Debbie Fuentes, Sue Meyer, and Kathy Smoke for taking on this difficult task to insure that the proper Arabian horses are recognized for their achievements. “I would like to thank the Delaware State Racing Commission and Delaware Park for adhering to the rules of racing and implementing them with no malice to our breed. Delaware Park has always tried to do the right thing for all horsemen and the betting public. It is a privilege to have our Arabian horses run there, and we look forward to a successful 2019 race meet. “I would like to thank Lynn Ashby who has trained Cre Run horses for over 30 years. For those of you who don’t know, Lynn was recently ranked 11th in the world of female race trainers according to Equibase. This was accomplished mostly with her Arabian horses, not her Thoroughbreds. All of the other trainers trained only Thoroughbreds. When you take into account that our Arabians run for smaller purses than the Thoroughbreds, with fewer races to run in, this is quite an accomplishment. I am honored that she is our trainer, as well as our friend. “I would like to thank Kirsten Swan who rode Colors In Motion to his victories, making him the number one horse at Delaware Park, even over the Thoroughbreds, in win/run percentage. “I would like to thank everyone at Marlyn Meadows and Cre Run for their dedication and care of our horses over the years, with a special thanks to Donna Mallory who always keeps us organized. “Last but not least, to my husband, Alan Kirshner, who has always supported my dream for Arabian racing. “Oh yes, and to the international person who wanted to buy Colors In Motion at the start of the meet last year but didn’t, thinking Colors was too small and I had priced him too high … let this be a lesson that small can be better, and winning this is priceless.”

of her racehorses. “I can’t even express my thanks. We’re all part of this and that’s the way it should be.” She urged participants to “work together” for the good of the sport and engage younger people with Arabians. Waldron was a major supporter of the ceremony, sponsoring the Arabian Jockey Club’s live feed of the ceremony on Facebook. Colors In Motion (Dahess x Ovour the Rainbow by *Nivour de Cardonne) was the busiest Darley Award winner in 2018. Colors In Motion won four of 10 starts and earned $41,300 for Deborah Mihaloff and Alan Kirshner, who race as Cre Run Enterprises. Colors In Motion won four times at Delaware Park and was third in the Delaware Park Arabian Derby in his lone stakes appearance. Mihaloff gave a heartfelt greeting to trainer Lynn Ashby who has trained Cre Run horses for more than 30 years. “I’m honored that she is our trainer and our friend,” Mihaloff said. Uptown Sandy Girl (Burning Sand x Wibwilcca by *Wilkolak) was honored as Four-Year-Old Filly of the Year, a second consecutive award, having been recognized as the Three-Year-Old Filly of the Year for 2017. Owned by Jon and Krista Henningsgard, Uptown Sandy Girl won five of eight starts and earned $95,500 in 2018. She won four stakes, notably two major races at Delaware Park — the Cre Run Oaks in August and the Buzz Brauninger Distaff Handicap in September. Jon Henningsgard paid tribute to former Arabian owner and breeder Claudia Spears for guiding his family at the start of their involvement in Arabian racing. “Uptown Sandy Girl comes from a Hall of Fame mare,” he said. “We’re so thankful and fortunate. I get to stand up here and say nice things and wear a tux. My wife is the brains behind the operation and she works really hard every day.” Dream Pearl (Burning Sand x Triumphs Pearl by Seyvilla Triumph) was bred by the Gillises and bought privately by her current owners — Dorothy Burt, Evelyn Call, Cory Soltau, and trainer Terri Eaton. In 2018, Dream Pearl won four of seven starts and earned $34,460. Racing as a seven-year-old in 2018, Dream Pearl won at four California tracks — Pleasanton, Santa Rosa, Ferndale and Los Alamitos, beating males in each of her races. “We’re so proud of our girl,” Call said as she accepted the trophy with Soltau and Eaton. Call said Dorothy Burt stayed home in California to tend to a mare who was about to deliver. “I’m delighted that I have such great partners. We have a great trainer who knows horses, understands horses and Pearl in particular. We’re looking forward to the next season.”

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Owners of DREAM PEARL (Burning Sand x Triumphs Pearl by Seyvilla Triumph), Darley Older Mare of the Year, include Cory Soltau, Evelyn Call, trainer Terri Eaton, and Dorothy Burt (who had to stay home to foal out a mare).

Dianne Waldron, second from left, owns DANCE WITH ME BW (Grilla x Shall We Dance BW by Line Dancer) Darley Three-Year-Old Filly of the Year. Waldron was accompanied to the stage by her daughter Leah Killingworth Bates and her grandchildren.

In her career, Dream Pearl has won 14 of 27 starts and earned $134,908. She is the fourth two-time winner in the Older Mare of the Year category. Jerenesto Torrez, who has a stable of Arabians and Thoroughbreds based primarily in Texas, won 30 races with Arabians in 2018 and trained the stakes winners Burn Em Joey, Easter Man, Quick Sand AA, RB Texas Hold Em, and Rich Sin. His runners swept the first three positions at the Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Stakes at Santa Anita in April 2018 with Quick Sand AA, Easter Man, and RB Nash. Torrez thanked his family and clients, “and everybody who made this possible.” Carol Cedeno, who is based in the mid-Atlantic, was named Jockey of the Year for the first time. She rode Easter Man to the win in the Arabian stakes at Sam Houston the night before the Darley Awards ceremony, but had obligations the next day to ride

the Thoroughbred program at Laurel Racecourse in Maryland. Cedeno rode Burn Em Joey to a stakes win in 2018 and won 14 races on Arabians from 33 mounts. Cedeno was the third female rider to be recognized with a Darley Award in the last five years, joining Kirsten Swan (2014) and Kelsi Purcell (2015). The Darley Awards are not just about honoring the present champions. The program inducted into the Arabian Racing Hall of Fame the late racehorse and stallion KA Czubuthan (Brusally Orzelost x Chambray by Toltec), foaled in 1984, who won 25 of 64 starts. He raced in Arizona, California, Florida and Texas and won stakes at the end of his career at Los Alamitos in California, Bandera Downs in Texas and Tampa Bay Downs in Florida for Michael Economopoulos of Arkansas. Economopoulos accepted the award along with his wife, Vicki. “Czubuthan earned this award the hard way,”

Arabian Racing Cup Board of Stewards, left to right: Deborah Mihaloff, Garrett Ford, Denise Gault, Dianne Waldron, Sam Vasquez, Michelle Morgan and Jon Henningsgard.

Jerenesto Torrez, Darley Trainer of the Year, with his family. Jerenesto trained the Horse of the Year, Quick Sand AA, Three-Year-Old Colt of the Year, Burn Em Joey, and Horse of the Year nominee Easter Man.

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KA CZUBUTHAN (Brusally Orzelost x Chambray by Toltec), was inducted into the Arabian Racing Hall of Fame. His last owners, Michael and Vicki Economopoulos accepted the award.

Sue Meyer, President of the Arabian Jockey Club, inducting Denise Gault into the Arabian Racing Tent of Honor. Her husband Randy Gault is at right.

Michael Economopoulos said. “He was a tough horse who really never knew the word quit. He was fiercely independent and was special to a whole group of people who are lucky enough to be associated with him.” Economopoulos credited Texas breeder Michelle Morgan, for her work with KA Czubuthan during his breeding career, and the late trainer Robert Knight. Deborah Mihaloff, a vocal proponent of Arabian racing at Delaware Park, the sport’s hub on the East Coast for three decades, as well as for stringent rules guaranteeing the purity of Arabian racing bloodlines, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at a ceremony at Delaware Park on Labor Day weekend. The tireless efforts of Denise Gault and Deborah Mihaloff were recognized for their lifetime achievements with Arabians in the last 30 years with induction into the Tent of Honor of the Arabian Racing Hall of Fame. Denise Gault has been an international bloodstock agent, owner and breeder, racing official and overall ambassador for Arabian Racing since the formation of the Darley Awards in the 1980s under the direction of the late Dr. Sam Harrison. She has served as chief steward of the Arabian Racing Cup. “In 32 years, Randy and I have never missed a Darley Awards,” she said of her husband in her acceptance speech. With a voice filled with emotion, Gault recalled how she first met Kirshner in 1985 at Scottsdale, and called the induction “a dream." Speaking to the audience, Gault looked as much to the future as the past. “This is a great honor,” she said. “I grew with you and I’m glad we’re all still growing.”


Steve Andersen is a correspondent for Daily Racing Form. A H W > 74 < 0 4 . 1 9

Darley Horse of the Year


owned by Joe & Betty Gillis Darley 3-Year-Old Colt/Gelding of the Year


owned by Joe & Betty Gillis Darley 3-Year-Old Filly of the Year


owned by Dianne Waldron, RoseBrook Farm Darley 4-Year-Old Colt/Gelding of the Year


owned by Deborah Mihaloff Darley 4-Year-Old Filly of the Year


owned by Jon and Krista Henningsgard Darley Older Horse of the Year


owned by Joe & Betty Gillis Darley Older Mare of the Year


owned by Dorothy Burt, Evelyn Call, Terri Eaton and Cory Soltau Darley Breeder of the Year


Darley Owner of the Year


Darley Trainer of the Year


Darley Jockey of the Year