Heavyweights to Meet in MBNA America Challenge Championship at LSP (AQHA News Release)

(November 6, 2006) - The field is set for tough competition in the MBNA America Racing Challenge Championship race scheduled for Saturday, November 11 at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas. The premier race of the evening, the MBNA America Challenge Championship, will offer some of American Quarter Horse racing’s most talented competition.

2005 World Champion Racing American Quarter Horse DM Shicago, owned by Jim and Marilyn Helzer and currently trained by Heath Taylor, will run in the headlining race of the evening. The 2002 gray gelding by Separatist was laid off for nearly four months before returning to the track to get his first win of the year on Oct. 26 at Lone Star Park in an allowance race.

In 2005, DM Shicago was the first American Quarter Horse in 17 years, since Dash For Speed in 1988, to win all three derbies at Ruidoso Downs, which put him on his way to being named the 2005 AQHA Racing World Champion. My Easy Credit, in 1977, was the only other horse to win the derby series since it started 33 years ago. DM Shicago has lifetime earnings of $1,848,510, which places him fourth on the all-time earnings list.

Valdasher won the MBNA America Central Challenge (G2) earlier this year and has been a solid and consistent contender since winning the Black Gold Futurity Championship (RG2) as a 2-year-old. The 4-year-old stallion by Dashing Val is owned by Gregory and Carol Huckins of Douglass, Kansas, and trained by Carl White.

Another tough contender in the championship race is the 6-year-old sorrel Pure D Dash gelding A Long Goodbye, owned and trained by Julian DeVargas of Laguna, New Mexico. Having earned nearly $500,000, A Long Goodbye this year has scored five victories from seven starts, and in his career has set two track records, including the :20.686 world quarter-mile record in the MBNA America New Mexico Challenge (G1) in 2005 and in January set the 350-yard track record at Sunland Park with a :17.171 time.

Don’t count out the 5-year-old sorrel mare This Snow Is Cold, owned by Benito Tello’s Los Ladrilleros Horse Racing Co. of Houston. Trained by Melinda Garcia and earning $319,835, This Snow Is Cold scored in this year’s MBNA America Texas Challenge (G1) and the last two runnings of the MBNA America Oklahoma Challenge (G1). By This Snow is Royal, the mare also had second-place finishes in this year’s Refrigerator Handicap (G1) and Sam Houston Classic (G2).

MBNA America, now Bank of America, has been the official financial provider of AQHA since 1993. The company also is title sponsor of the MBNA America Racing Challenge.

The MBNA America Challenge Championship is the headliner on a stakes-filled MBNA America Challenge Championship night at Lone Star Park on November 11. The MBNA America Racing Challenge is American Quarter Horse racing’s richest program for all American Quarter Horses. A total of 72 races take place in 11 regions across the United States, Canada, Mexico and South America throughout the year. American Quarter Horses compete in one of six different types of races, depending on their age and ability.

The MBNA America Racing Challenge is a $4.8-million purse and bonus awards program, of which more than 60 percent is added money from AQHA Corporate Partners and host racetracks.

Stay up-to-date on this year’s MBNA America Challenge Championships and view a complete list of contenders by visiting http://racing.aqha.com/racing/challenge/index.aspx. This year’s Challenge Championships can be seen live from Lone Star Park on TVG.

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