LQHBA Insider - By Martha Claussen May  17, 2024


DOUBLE THE THRILLS FOR BREEDER BUTCH STEVENS It's hard to find a more respected and admired Louisiana breeder that Julien "Butch" Stevens, III! As we approach LQHBA Louisiana Million night on Saturday, December 19 at Evangeline Downs, the Leesville, Louisiana horseman will be in the spotlight.

He has the distinction of breeding a finalist for both features on the richest night of the meet: Jrs Shiney Tee, the fastest qualifier to the LQHBA Louisiana Million Futurity as well as Jrs Coronas Toast, a strong contender for the $276,825 LQHBA Louisiana Breeders Derby.

Jrs Shiney Tee

Stevens claimed the dam of Jrs Shiney Tee, Arrangel To Shine, who hit the board in ten of her 16 starts from 2007-2009.

"She proved to be a good allowance level mare," said Stevens.

Bred to Tee Cos, Jrs Shiney Tee was a March 13 foal, so Stevens opted to hold off on selling him in the LQHBA Yearling Sale. Instead, he was listed in the catalog of the LQHBA Fall Mixed Sale. He bought him back for $5,000 and sent the bay colt to conditioner David "T-Bone" Bustamante.

"My dad (Johnny) broke him, but we had a little trouble with his shins, so we didn't rush him," Bustamante explained. "He ran a little green in the LQHBA Sale Futurity final, but really put it together in his trial for the LQHBA Million. We always thought we had a good one."

Under rider Gilbert Ortiz, Jrs Shiney Tee covered 400 yards in :19.641, winning by a margin of 1 lengths. He secured the fastest time in the first of two nights of trials and that clocking proved to be the best in both nights of racing.

"My jaw dropped," admitted Stevens. "I knew he was fast, but did not expect that!"

Veteran Quarter Horse jockey Ortiz is having an excellent Evangeline Downs meet, clicking at a very high level with the Bustamante trainees. He has ridden Jrs Shiney Tee in two of his three starts and is pleased with his progress.

"Some of the Tee Cos babies are high strung, but he's real calm," said Ortiz. "In his first start (a trial for the LQHBA Sale Futurity), it took him 100 yards to get in stride and then he came flying. When he broke his maiden in his trial for the million, I was thinking that he could be something special."

Bustamante reports that the lightly-raced gelding came out of his trial is good order. His entire family and owner, Kathy Goodale, look forward to his return in the LQHBA Louisiana Million.

"Butch has some really nice mares," stated Bustamante. "He really pays attention to pedigree and we sure hope for a win in the final."

Breeders Derby Finalist Jrs Coronas Toast

The background on Stevens' 3-year-old is a tad more complicated! Jrs Coronas Toast was sired by Coronas Leaving You out of Egos Toast to Dash, a daughter of Toast To Dash.

"She had the 11th fastest time in trials for the (2013) LQHBA Futurity," said Stevens of the dam as a racehorse. "She's a nice mare; this would be her first stakes winner."

Jrs Coronas Toast was a LQHBA Yearling Sale graduate. Trainer Paul Rigdon liked what he saw when made a visit to Steven's farm. He bought the colt in a partnership with his son Gyth, Gerardo Gonzalez and Juan Luis Fernandez.

He made nine starts in his 2-year-old campaign, competing in trials for the Laddie, LQHBA Sale and LQHBA Louisiana Million futurities. He finished the year with a fifth-place effort in the LQHBA Million Invitational Stakes.

Stevens watched him run and felt strongly that he needed to be gelded.

"I'm not sure how you can write this," he said as he tried to describe the colt's anatomy.

Rigdon and the owners resisted gelding Jrs Coronas Toast describing him as a sweet horse who was never exhibited stud-like behavior. But it was hard to deny that his testicles were limiting his ability to run. When he ran last at Delta Downs on August 14, the decision was made.

"He would get to the track and buck," said Rigdon. "There's no other way to explain it: underneath him was a growing time bomb!"

After he was gelded, he ran second in an allowance, earning a speed index of 89. With Luciano Duenez in the saddle, the bay gelding notched the fifth fastest qualifying time of :19.767 seconds in his LQHBA Breeders Derby trial on November 21. The winner of that heat was the highly accomplished favorite, Lifeinthefastlanes, but there was no doubt that Jrs Coronas Toast was progressing in the right direction.

"Butch and I have worked together for many years," said Rigdon. He's a smart guy and loves his horses. We've had a lot of fun doing this!"

Family and Service to Louisiana Breeding and Racing

Like so many dedicated Louisiana breeders and racehorse owners, Stevens grew up with family ties to the sport.

"My dad was in and out of racing," said Stevens. "We spent plenty of time at the brush tracks when I was growing up."

In addition to owning and breeding Quarter Horses, Stevens served as a board member of the Louisiana Quarter Horse Breeders Association (LQHBA) and was president in 2016-2017.

He and his wife, Jennifer have three children and seven grandchildren. Stevens will have tremendous support from his entire family and countless members of the Louisiana Quarter Horse industry when his two homebreds leave the gates in their championship races on Saturday December 19.

"That's why you get up every morning and put the work in," admitted Stevens. "It would be incredible to win these two big races, but the truth is, I get a thrill watching every one of my babies run in every race, at any level."

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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.