Updated on 09/17/2011 1:43PM

Gone Celebrating takes Championship at Sunland


SUNLAND PARK, N. M. - Trainer Michael Joiner, who has dominated the local Quarter Horse racing in recent years, enjoyed an incredible day on Saturday afternoon at Sunland, saddling the one-two finishers in two Grade 1 stakes.

In , a $400,000 event that brought together the nations top Quarter Horses for a season's end spectacular, Joiner sent out an uncoupled trio of his stars, none of whom were favored in the betting. After a brutal break that took odds-on Oak Tree Special as one of it's victims, four horses were left battling at the sixteenth pole with no one sure who would come out on top. Joiner's group, Kendall Jackson, Gone Celebrating and Chicks Goes Steppin were in combat with Panther Mountain to the wire in an exciting finish. At the finish Gone Celebrating held a nose advantage over Joiner's longshot, Chicks Goes Steppin. Panther Mountain was a head back in third and Kendall Jackson was fourth, beaten just three-quarters of a length. The winning time for the 400 yards was 19.154 with a 20 MPH tail wind. The top two finishers earned a speed index of 105.

For Gone Celebrating, a four-year-old sorrel gelding by Meter Me Gone, it was his fifth consecutive win and first in a Grade 1 and could possibly set the tone for a tremendous season at five. Gone Celebrating earned $182,500, tripling his 2003 bankroll to $278,150 with five wins and a second from six starts. Gone Celebrating, owned by Bobby Cox and riddden by Juan Vasquez, returned $16.

In the $216,287 , a Grade 1 restricted to New Mexico-breds, Joiner was in the underdog role again. Trainer Carl Draper sent out a three-ply entry of fillies headed by Blackgold Chips that were bet down to 2-5. Despite breaking outward and bumping into a rival, the Joiner-trained Ongoing Ta Fame exploded away from the gate under jockey G. R. Carter and held off the late rally of Arbor Mist, also trained by Joiner, to win by a neck. Blackgold Chips battled the winner for the early advantage but gradually weakened to be third, beaten a length.

Ongoing Ta Fame ($8.20), owned by Roger Beasley, Terry Wootan and J. D. Yates, covered the 400 yards in 19.253 with the same 20 MPH tail wind and received a speed index of 102. The $102,655 he earned in the Shue Fly put his total at $206,052, and Ongoing Ta Fame finishes his two-year-old campaign with an 8-5-1-1 record.