Updated on 09/15/2011 12:30PM

Carnivaly colt rated best in show

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Linda Rice had plenty to choose from when she judged the Maryland Horse Breeders Association Yearling Show on June 24 at the Timonium Fairgrounds.

Of the 152 yearlings entered, 132 were exhibited - the second-largest number in the 67-year history of the show.

After nearly seven hours in the ring, Rice selected as grand champion a bay colt by Carnivalay-Miss Rolla Punch, by Two Punch, owned and bred by Frank and Ginny Wright.

"It was tough to separate the last couple of horses" said Rice, referring to the six class winners who vied for top honors. Her champion is a "very growthy colt, the type of yearling who will continue to improve as he matures."

The Wrights had made a last-minute decision to enter the show after discussion with their farm manager, Mike Peterson, and they were delighted with the results.

"We hadn't shown in a number of years because our previous farm manager didn't want to participate," explained Ginny Wright. "But Mike was willing to work with the colt, whom he has loved since a baby. He was confident that we had a shot to win.."

The champion is the third foal out of Miss Rolla Punch, a lightly-raced half-sister to the Wrights' last entry, shown in 1990, stakes-placed My Sweet Alesia.

In addition to the more than $10,000 awarded in prize money for the top ribbon-getters in the show, all the yearlings judged by Rice are now eligible for the $40,000 bonus that will be divided and paid out to the exhibitors of the top four contestants who earn the most money at North American tracks over the next two seasons. The Wrights have reaped the benefits of the bonus in past years, when their top-class filly, Valay Maid, also by Carnivalay, earned the first-place prize of $13,000 in 1989, and My Sweet Alesia finished third in 1991, good enough to take home $2,500.

Rice's years of experience in looking at sales horses helped her efficiently work through each of the six classes - three for colts and three for fillies. She based her selections on three main points: conformation, size, and motion. And when the final placements were made, motion proved the deciding factor.

"There were a number of placements that could have gone either way," said Rice, who pointed out that the reserve champion was a choice between the other two class-winning colts, sons of Not For Love and Joyeux Danseur. She selected the colt by Not For Love-Palisade Lady, by Greinton (GB). Named Just a Chip, the Not For Love colt has turned out to be a pleasant surprise for owners Edwin Merryman, his wife, Sarah, and partners Debbie and Ken Kachel, who found a bargain when they purchased him as a weanling for $6,000 at last December's Fasig-Tipton Midlantic mixed sale. "The colt had been injured prior to the sale," noted Sarah Merryman. "But Edwin felt it wouldn't be a problem."

The Yearling Show honors were unexpected. "The show is an opportunity to give our yearlings the experience of leaving the farm, shipping in a van, seeing other horses . . . we didn't think we'd win the class," said Merryman.

"In fact, I assured the Kachels that they wouldn't miss a thing since they weren't able to attend the show!"

The champion and reserve champion were the winners of Classes I and II, respectively. Other class winners were:

Class III: B. Wayne Hughes's dark bay colt by Joyeux Danseur-Tova's Princess, by Wild Again.

Class IV: Barry and Jodi Swartz's bay filly by Not For Love-Not So Cold, by Rollicking.

Class V: Rachel L. Rosa's bay filly by Wayne County (Ire)

Class VI: Carol Ann Kaye-Garcia's dark bay filly by Forest Wildcat-Judge Supreme, by Big Burn.

The Worthington Farms Challenge Trophy, presented to the Maryland stallion whose offspring earn the most points (based on class placements) went to Northview Stallion Station's Not for Love, who had two class winners as well as second and fifth-place finishers.