10/28/2011 6:49PM

Shippers add intrigue to Quarter Horse Challenge Championships


The Bank of America AQHA Challenge Championships, made up of six stakes races worth over $1 million in total, place an emphasis on the veterans of Quarter Horse racing, despite a nod to juveniles who tackle the Grade 1, $150,000 John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship. Via qualifying races held throughout the country, the Challenge strives to bring together America's finest speedsters to face each other at a selected track.

CHALLENGE CHAMPIONSHIPS: Get PPs, video previews, watch live

Los Alamitos, widely considered the chief hub of Quarter Horse racing with its stellar year-round program, serves as the Challenge's host for the ninth time since the concept's inception in 1993.

Unlike the usual scan through Los Alamitos past performances, the 12-race all-stakes card is filled with shippers, adding to the intrigue for Quarter Horse handicappers.

For example, the anticipated showdown between the 19-for-35 Spit Curl Diva, the celebrated Midwestern mare, and the 17-for-34 Rylees Boy, the King of the Southwest, in the featured Group 1, $350,000 Bank of America Challenge Championship is difficult to predict, as neither has won here in just one try. They will face nine other deserving rivals blazing 440 yards.

Interestingly, the Grade 1, $125,000 Merial Distaff Challenge Championship at 400 yards looks like another chapter in the budding rivalry between locals Fovee and Stylish Jess Br. However, Texas-bred speedball Ebw Obsession and Oklahoma-bred stalwart Fredaville seek to upset.

Similar matchups dotted throughout the card should fuel the possibility of generous payoffs to willing bettors.

In addition to the top-class competition on the track, the AQHA also utilizes Challenge weekend as a summit, with conferences planned, for its progenitors to guide the future of the sport.

The Saturday night racing gets under way at 7 p.m. Pacific.