07/14/2009 11:00PM

Childers has enduring legacy of winning

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In 1996, when Spencer Childers was recognized by the American Quarter Horse Association as the owner and co-breeder of the year, he had been breeding Quarter Horses for 47 years.

Childers, who died on July 9 at the age of 97, had plenty of success before that season, but 1996 was an outstanding year - one in which his homebred Uncas won the Ed Burke and Governor's Cup futurities and Luva Secret won the Golden State Futurity, all at Los Alamitos.

Childers, who lived in Fresno, Calif., began breeding Quarter Horses in 1940. He first went to Los Alamitos in 1953, four years after it opened, and he bred more than 40 stakes winners.

His influence remains strong. Childers bred and raced Be a Bono, the 2004 Quarter Horse World Champion. Be a Bono won three consecutive runnings of the Spencer Childers California Breeders Championship, the showcase race for older horses on the summer night for California-bred Quarter Horses.

Childers was always delighted to see Be a Bono succeed, but seemed a bit embarrassed that the horse had done so in a race named after him.

Just last Saturday, two fillies bred by Childers - Peace Fire and The Partys on Fire - qualified for the $431,000 Governor's Cup Futurity, which will be run on July 25, the same night as the Childers Championship.

Peace Fire, owned by Childers and sired by the stallion Walk Thru Fire, won the first of seven divisions of the trials and shares the fastest qualifying time for the 350-yard race. She is a half-sister to Be a Bono.

The owner of Los Alamitos Race Course, Ed Allred, who owns a massive Quarter Horse stable, said after the race that Childers was his greatest influence as a Quarter Horse breeder and owner.

"As a breeder, his horses speak for themselves," Allred told track publicity. "He bred generations of outstanding horses." Allred called Peace Fire "a perfect example. She comes from a great family."

Allred and his racing partner Tom Seibly race The Partys on Fire, who was acquired as a yearling at the 2008 Los Alamitos equine sale for $14,000.

Childers is fifth on the all-time list of Quarter Horse racing breeders. Much of the lineage of his runners traces back to the 1957 champion Black Easter Bunny, whom Childers bought for $7,500.

Asked about his success in racing, Childers said a few years ago, "I'd rather shoot my age in golf, but there's the problem. I'm too young right now."

Childers bred 45 stakes winners. Aside from Be a Bono, he bred the champions Black Sable, Bunny's Bar Maid and Jet View.

A memorial service will be held at Sunnyside Country Club in Fresno at 11 a.m. on Saturday.