LQHBA Insider - By Martha Claussen April  25, 2024


The LQHBA Louisiana Million will be contested on Saturday, December 16 at Evangeline Downs. This will mark its sixth year as a seven-figure championship, and the first with its new name. In this month’s LQHBA Insider, we visit with the five women and men on what breeding the winner of a million dollar futurity has meant to them.

Open Me A Corona

Natalie Montgomery, DVM has loved horses her entire life. Her father raised Thoroughbreds and she knew from an early age that she wanted to become a veterinarian. However, she will admit that she never anticipated that she would breed a Quarter Horse who would capture a million dollar futurity. But, she did just that with Open Me A Corona, who won the 2012 edition of the $1 million LQHBA Breeders Futurity; the first time the race had a seven-figure purse.

“The beauty of Quarter Horse racing is that you never know where a runner will come from,” admits Montgomery.

She bred her mare In the Open to Coronas Leaving You, whose stud career was just getting underway.

"Open Me a Corona was an embryo transfer," explained Montgomery. "She came out of a Paint mare, who was kind of nutty; she was short and squatty and couldn’t run a lick!”

When Open Me A Corona was born, he was ornery like his mama, but Montgomery and her husband, Jim, quickly began to notice his intelligence. Once he hit the racetrack for owners Charles Forbes, Jr. and Tommy Hays, DVM, something else was very evident.

“He did not like to be outrun,” stated Montgomery. “He would give his all and come back exhausted.”

Open Me A Corona was not the favorite in the 2012 LQHBA Breeders Futurity. He left the gates at 3-1 under David Alvarez and dazzled with a 102 speed index.

“I was just ecstatic,” said Montgomery. “It was a thrill of a lifetime and rich reward for all the hard work, the sleepless nights of tending to a horse in the middle of the night, the many feedings in the pouring rain. It’s difficult to explain the feeling!”

The joy was shared with the owners and of course, trainer Bobby Martinez.

“It takes a team to create a champion,” admits LQHBA board member Montgomery. “Winning a race of that caliber gives you a boost as a breeder.”

And for the young girl who always loved horses!

Ol Time Preacher Man

In 2013, an exciting duel to the wire and agonizingly long photo finish declared Ol Time Preacher Man the winner. Jo Baya Foreman bred her mare, Jj Streakin Illusion to Heza Fast Dash, so the win as the breeder was doubly rewarding as Foreman owns a share of Heza Fast Dash, one of Louisiana’s top Quarter Horse stallions.

Ol Time Preacher man was purchased at the 2012 LQHBA Yearling Sale by Steve Holland. Conditioned by Kenneth Roberts, Sr., he broke his maiden in the trials to the LQHBA Breeders Futurity and won the final under rider Danny Lavergne.

Foreman has been a breeder in Louisiana since 1995, and is currently serving of the LQHBA board of directors. She and Joseph B. Irvine bred Vals Fortune, a millionaire winner of 20 of his 23 starts;named 2013 AQHA Champion 2-year-old. She had a multitude of proud moments watching him compete, and still gets chills thinking about Ol Time Preacher Man’s victory.

“It’s a wonderful memory,” said Foreman. “Just to get invited to ‘the dance’ is very exciting. For a breeder, it is extremely rewarding. I attribute a lot of our success to the Louisiana breeders program.”

And she points out that it is not just a fleeting moment of fame. “After you have a horse run like that, everybody wants the next baby,” she stated. “We get calls early in the season and many more visits to the farm to see our weanlings before the sales.”

Jj Streakin Illusion continues to produce progeny with championship potential.

“My mare had one foal before Ol Time Preacher Man,” she said. “Kenny has his full brother in training right now!”

Jls Dashn and Zoomn

Jls Speed Horse Ranch in Opelousas, Louisiana, bred the 2014 champion, Jls Dashn and Zoomn. His dam, Shaken Thru Zoom only finished off the board once in her nine starts. She produced two foals that were stakes-placed, before the Soileau family bred her to Sir Runaway Dash.

Darrel Soileau explained that they had to retire Shaken Thru Zoom due to bad feet. She produced two foals that were stakes-placed, before the Soileau family bred her to Sir Runaway Dash.

“It was Daddy’s decision to breed her to Sir Runaway Dash,” explained Darrel. “We all argue with Daddy, but in the end, it turned out pretty well!”

Trainer Brenda Foster took good care of him and our rider, Raul Ramirez, Jr. had confidence in him going into the final. He entered the gates as the fastest qualifier and post time favorite.

“Raul told us he would get it done in the end,” recalled Darrel.

The Soileau family has bred some other solid runners, most notably, Jls Mr Bigtime, who bankrolled $1,031,147 in his 35 lifetime starts.

Darrel is hoping lightning might strike twice with Jls Dash N Fire, who will run in trials for the LQHBA Louisiana Million on November 17.

“He made 1,000 errors in his trial for the Laddie Futurity, before winning the final,” he said. “Kenny (Roberts) says he is coming along well.”

“Our win with Jls Dashn and Zoomn was incredible for our family,” added Darrel. “I get pretty excited watching any 2-year-old race and just remembering that night!”

Jess A Saint

Located in Ventress, Louisiana, Jumonville Farms has an outstanding history of breeding champion racehorses. They were honored as AQHA 50-year Breeders in the 2015 ceremony at the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum in Amarillo.

But J. E. Jumonville points out one very special reason for his pride in 2015 LQHBA Breeders Futurity champion Jess a Saint.

“In all the years we have been breeding under my name or Jumonville Farms, he was the first foal that my wife, Bunny, had her name on,” he proudly stated.

It was quite an interesting evolution! Inspired by a trip to California to attend the Vessels Sale, the Jumonvilles made a trip to Del Mar and a visit to the barn of Hall of Famer Bob Baffert.

“We visited with Bob and were able to see Vindication, the winner of the Breeders Cup Juvenile,” said Jumonville.

An injury derailed Vindication’s career and opportunity to run in the Kentucky Derby. Jumonville followed him as a stallion, and took interest in a mare he sired named Laughing Saint.

“I paid $3,000 for her,” recalled Jumonville. “She was small and immature and despite posting some bullet works, never started as a racehorse.”

J. E.’s son Dutcher, suggested breeding Laughing Saint to Jess Louisiana Blue, who has sired money earners in excess of $14 million for Jumonville Farms.

Owned by Julio Rios and trained by Miguel Rodriguez, Jess a Saint broke his maiden in trials for the 2015 Laddie Futurity at Delta Downs. He was the tenth fastest qualifier to the LQHBA Breeders Futurity, but closed gamely from the far outside post with Raul Ramirez, Jr.in the irons.

J. E. and Bunny were in Seattle that evening and did not see the race, but Jumonville will never forget the phone call from his son.

“Dad, he won; he got up in the last jump,” relayed Jumonville.

Jumonville will celebrate his 75th birthday next month and reflected on what winning the million dollar championship meant to him and his family.

“We have had success over the years with Grade 1 wins in the Rainbow at Ruidoso Downs; the Go Man Go and Champion of Champions at Los Alamitos,” he said. “But to be able to win a million dollar futurity with one of our homebreds in our home state was truly amazing!”

TF Racee Runaway

It was another noteworthy family collaboration, as a father-son teamed up with TF Racee Runaway in last year’s edition of the LQHBA Breeders Futurity at Evangeline Downs.

Steve and Stephen Tate own and operate Tate Farms in Ville Platte, Louisiana. Their gelding, a son of the First Down Dash stallion Sir Runaway Dash, scored a neck victory under veteran jockey, John Hamilton.

TF Racee Runaway was bred by Teddy L. Berry, who owned Racee Rainbows, an unraced 14-year-old daughter of the Streakin Six stallion Streakin La Jolla.

“Teddy and I are good friends,” said Stephen Tate. “When he decided to get out of the business, we bought a lot of his mares, including Racee Rainbows.

Trained by Lanny Keith, TF Racee Runaway was a finalist in the Lee Berwick Memorial Futurity (RG1) at Delta Downs as well as the LQHBA Sale Futurity (RG1) several months later at Fair Grounds. He won his LQHBA Futurity trial on October 28, and entered the final as the sixth fastest qualifier.

"My dad and I have worked our whole lives for a win like this," said Stephen Tate. "John has ridden him well all year long, and we appreciate the great job by Lanny."

Tate Farms was honored as the 2016 LQHBA leading owner and breeder, and TF Racee Runaway was named Champion 2-year-old gelding at the annual LQHBA banquet earlier this year. Stephen Tate took a minute to reflect upon the monumental win.

“Over the last couple of years, we have bred and sold some nice stakes winners,” he acknowledged. “But winning a million dollar futurity has boosted every part of our business.”

December 16 Will be a Big Night for One More Breeder

The big night of racing on December 16 at Evangeline Downs is important on many levels, according to Tony Patterson, LQHBA executive director.

"To run the only RG1 futurity in the country with a true $1,000,000 purse is a tremendous compliment to our breeders, owners and board of directors," stated Patterson. "We take great pride that breeders awards will be paid to each of the ten finalists."

Lyle Guillory, LQHBA president, has worked tirelessly with state legislators to ensure that they understand how many jobs in Louisiana are created from breeding and owning racehorses. “The breeders play a pivotal role,” said Guillory. “They begin by matching a stallion to a mare, in hopes that a healthy foal will be born and take the many steps into becoming a racing champion. The road is not easy as breeders make a considerable investment of their time and money each season. We salute these men and women and truly appreciate their contribution to the Louisiana equine industry.”

This year, the race will run with its new name: the LQHBA Louisiana Million. The winner will receive a check in the amount of $445,000 and share the victory with the team that made it all possible. Thanks to each of the breeders for continuing the excellence of Louisiana-bred Quarter Horses. We salute you!

In next month’s Insider, we will visit with the owners, trainers and jockeys of our past winners. They each have special memories of their million dollar dream night!

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The LQHBA Insider is a monthly feature written by Martha Claussen for www.lqhba.com. She served as publicity director at Sam Houston Race Park for ten years. She continues to be active in writing, fan education and Quarter Horse racing publicity in Texas, Louisiana and other regions in North America.