01/15/2009 12:00AM

Quarter Horse champions postponed indefinitely


The American Quarter Horse Association has indefinitely postponed the announcement of its 2008 champion Quarter Horses in the wake of Stolis Winner's disqualification from the win in the Grade 1, $2 million All American Futurity by the New Mexico Racing Commission stewards on Jan. 8.

The disqualification ruling was immediately appealed and a stay was granted.

The champions announcements had been scheduled for Wednesday evening and were to be televised by TVG. An AQHA statement said that the association's Racing Council and Executive Committee members "are hopeful this matter will be quickly resolved" with the New Mexico commission.

The ruling fined trainer Heath Taylor $1,500 and suspended his license for six months after Stolis Winner tested positive for caffeine following the Sept. 1 race at Ruidoso. Taylor has denied any wrongdoing. The purse, which had been paid by order of the New Mexico Racing Commission, was ordered to be redistributed in the ruling. The All American Futurity winner's share is $1 million.

Stolis Winner won three Grade 1 futurities last year. In addition to the All American Futurity, Quarter Horse racing's highest-profile race, he won the $1 million Heritage Place Futurity and the $625,000 Rainbow Futurity.

The championship voting concluded two days before the New Mexico commmission's ruling was announced. Stolis Winner's 2-year-old championship credentials are enviable, as he is the only juvenile with three wins in prominent Grade 1 futurities. Also, without a standout older horse in 2008, he is considered a top prospect for overall world champion honors.

Traditionally, the champions' connections receive their trophies during the AQHA convention during the first weekend in March. This year's convention is in San Antonio, Texas.

"It's definitely a possibility that the trophies could be awarded during the convention, in the unaffected categories or all the categories," said Trey Buck, the AQHA executive director of racing. "The Racing Council will begin to address that issue next week."

If the AQHA decides to wait until final disposition of the case before announcing the champions, it could take months or years. The connections of Stolis Winner have indicated they will contest the ruling in the courts until they get a favorable resolution.

"We will appeal, and we feel confident that we will prevail," said Stolis Winner's owner, Jerry Windham, a leading owner-breeder and past president of the AQHA.

Stolis Winner was the fastest qualifier to the Grade 1 Texas Classic Futurity in December, but was scratched from the finals after a sesamoid injury was discovered. Surgery was successful and he should race in 2009.

Azoom Babe leads Jones trio

National champion trainer Paul Jones's barn is always stocked with promising horses, and three of those prospects are among the six 3-year-old fillies in the $16,000 Debutante Overnight Handicap on Saturday night at Los Alamitos.

Azoom Babe leads the Jones-trained trio with two wins after returning from an extended layoff in November. In her most recent start, she battled to a head win in a nonwinners-of-two allowance race at 300 yards, the same distance as the Debutante.

The other two Jones entrants are Los Alamitos Two Million trial winner Splendifferous and Stel Katrina.

Vals Warrior faces open horses

Louisiana-bred Vals Warrior takes on open competition at the short distance of 250 yards in the $25,000 Harrah's Dash at Louisiana Downs on Saturday.

Vals Warrior has placed in minor stakes against open company and has been successful against the highest level of Louisiana-breds. The 4-year-old gelding concluded his juvenile season with a win in the 2007 LQHBA Futurity and won the Grade 3 Vinton Stakes for Louisiana-breds in 2008.

In his latest start against open company - the Vieux Carre Stakes at Fair Grounds on Aug. 24 - he finished third, beaten a half-length by the winner, Grade 1 winner Snowy Alibi.

Killer Bod displayed his quickness two starts ago when he went to the lead in the Grade 3 B.F. Phillips Jr. Handicap at Lone Star Park and then prevailed by a half-length over a deeper field than the Harrah's Dash. It has been an all-or-nothing career for the former claimer, with 8 wins and only one other on-the-board effort from 14 starts.

Fundraiser for Thompson memorial

A golf tournament for the late jockey Sam Thompson will be held Jan. 26 at Los Serranos Country Club in Chino Hills, Calif., starting at 11 a.m.

Thompson sustained fatal injuries when his mount broke down after the wire on Dec. 20 at Los Alamitos. He died on Christmas morning and his organs were harvested, providing life-giving aid for the recipients.

The tournament will help defray the cost of his memorial service and will be a best-ball format. Cost is $125, and there will be a raffle.

Thompson was an avid golfer, said Ed Reese of the Los Alamitos Golf Club, the event's sponsor.

"We're looking forward to playing a round of golf in his honor," he said.