10/26/2011 3:15PM

Los Alamitos: Stolis Winner having tough year


With earnings of $2,231,661, Stolis Winner is Quarter Horse racing’s all-time leading money earner. This year, he has done little to help that total.

With one win in five starts and earnings of $68,080, the 5-year-old Stolis Winner is having the quietest season of his four-year career, highlighted by wins in the 2008 All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs and 2009 Texas Classic Derby at Lone Star Park.

The list of major accomplishments could grow this weekend.

On Saturday, Stolis Winner starts in the $350,000 Bank of America Challenge Championship at Los Alamitos, the top race on the American Quarter Horse Association’s Challenge program.

WATCH LIVE VIDEO of AQHA Challenge program: plus PPs, News & Analysis

There are four other stakes worth $125,000 or more Saturday. The Challenge program consists of horses who have won or placed in qualifying stakes around the country through the year. Stolis Winner earned a berth to the Challenge Championship with a win in the Remington Park division in May.

Stolis Winner was later fifth in the Grade 1 Remington Park Championship and a disappointing ninth in the Los Alamitos Championship on Oct. 9, his California debut and his 28th career start.

“We thought he’d run better than he did,” said owner-breeder Jerry Windham of College Station, Texas. “He didn’t get into the race.”

The Los Alamitos Championship attracted several of the top older Quarter Horse at Los Alamitos. While the Challenge Championship over 440 yards has a strong field, it will not be as difficult. Favorite Cartel, fifth in the Los Alamitos Championship; Spit Curl Diva, a 5-year-old mare with 12 stakes wins; and Acorn, a stakes winner at Retama Park and Fair Grounds this year; are other leading contenders.

Stolis Winner broke slowly and was bumped at the start of the Los Alamitos Championship. Windham says Stolis Winner has sometimes tried too hard when the gates open in the last few seasons.

“In his 4-year-old [season], he would try to break so hard, he’d stumble and slip behind,” he said. “He finished his races very well. Things weren’t working for him. When he left standing up, he was pretty dog gone tough.”

Aside from the Challenge Championship, the leading races on Saturday’s program are the $200,000 Derby Challenge Championship over 400 yards, the $150,000 Juvenile over 350 yards, the $125,000 Distaff over 400 yards, and the $125,000 Distance over 870 yards.