Sheza Bad Habit makes good in Sun Downs finale

By Jeff Morrow, Herald sports editor May 3, 2010 

KENNEWICK -- Bret Vickery brought plenty of weapons to the $30,780 American Quarter Horse Association's Merial Northwest Distaff Challenge on Sunday at Sun Downs race track.

Of the nine horses lined up in the starting gate, the trainer from St. George, Utah, had five of them.

"You try to treat them all the same," Vickery said. "You don't have a favorite, just as long as we win."

Which, of course, is what happened. In fact, the top three placers -- Sheza Bad Habit, Daddies Little Girl and Ldscherry Cola Chick -- are all trained by him.

And they're all pretty fast.

Sheza Bad Habit and Daddies Little Girl both won their trial races April 18.

Before Sunday's race, Sheza Bad Habit looked relaxed in the paddock, just strolling around and glancing at the crowd while being led by her handler.

Both horses, starting in the middle gates, broke cleanly.

Daddies Little Girl, with Nikeela Black aboard, had the lead for much of the race. But Sheza Bad Habit and rider Paul Greene were right with her.

Then, with roughly 200 yards remaining, Sheza Bad Habit kicked it into a higher gear and pulled away, beating the favored Daddies Little Girl by a half-length and winning with a time of 19.59 seconds while running into a strong head wind.

"She did break well," said Greene of the winning 3-year-old filly. "At about 200 yards, she started inching ahead. She's easy to ride and wants to keep going. I think 400 yards fits her so well."

Vickery agrees.

"When she runs 400 yards, she's strongest at the end," he said. "It's the same when she runs at Los Alamitos."

The winner's share of the race was $14,158. But more importantly, Sheza Bad Habit becomes the first horse to qualify for the $125,000 Challenge Championship, set for Nov. 20 at the Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans.

Nine other horses will come out of regional finals over the next five months to complete the field.

"I am ecstatic," Vickery added. "These (wins) are hard to come by."

Black failed to win a race Sunday, but it didn't matter as she was the top jockey of the meet with 22 victories.

"After seven years, finally," Black said. "It's my home town. I've won all of the titles in Oregon, and all the bush tracks (Walla Walla, Dayton and Waitsburg). But never here. I was always second."

The key, she said, was having good horses to ride. And most of her mounts were either trained by Lynn Homer (thoroughbreds) or Bill Hoburg (quarterhorses). Perhaps it's no coincidence those two were the top trainers of the meet.

"I had a lot of help in the office too," said the 24-year-old rider. "I go to (law) school in Idaho, so I can't be here during the week to work the horses out."

An estimated crowd of 1,100 people came out on the final day of the meet to wager $50,008, capping a strong meet unofficially totaling $466,000 for the 10 dates.

"We're really tickled," said Cliff Schellinger of the Tri-City Horse Racing Association. "We're right up there with last year's numbers. Concessions were up. People came out here, and really we only had one good day of weather. Paul George (of the Washington Horse Racing Commission) was here earlier and told us 'Don't make any rash decisions (about next season).' "

With all of the animosity between the TCHRA and the Benton County Commission entering this meet, it was possible this could be the last meet ever at the track.

But the TCHRA officers were upbeat about a possible 25th season in 2011 -- especially with the group having one more year on its contract at the track.

"We really have the support of the community," said Nancy Sorick, general manager of Sun Downs and a TCHRA officer. "And the horsemen really supported us. We're survivalists."

-- Trey Fecta lost $64.50 on Sunday, bringing the final bankroll (from the original and imaginary $500 starting point) down to $169.40.

Sunday's results

First--QH mdn, 2YO, 300 yards, purse $1,200: 3. Real Queen Like It 18.60, 3.00, 2.60. 1A. Graces Blue Apollo 2.20, 2.20. 4. Bounder Fame 2.40. EX (3-1) 33.20, QU 13.20, TRI (3-1-4) 41.40. T -- 15.69.

Second -- Homer Thoroughbreds Special, TB mdn, 3YO&Up, 4 furlongs, purse $1,400: 6. Satans Trucking 40.60, 11.80, 9.00. 3. Indys Wild Child 4.00, 3.20. 2. Almost Toast 4.60. DD (3-6) 291.00, EX (6-3) 207.20, QU 150.90, TRI (6-3-2) 727.80. T -- 47.40.

Third -- Shorty & Karen Martin Special, QH mdn, 3YO&Up, 300 yards, purse $1,400: 6. Buford Tucker 3.00, 2.40, 2.20. 2. Paraphrase 3.20, 2.60. 1. Sheza Fast One 3.00. EX (6-2) 9.40, QU 9.90, TRI (6-2-1) 26.00, SUPER (6-2-1-5) 39.60. T -- 15.78.

Fourth -- TB clm $2000, 3YO&Up which have not won a race in 2010, 4 furlongs, purse $1,600: 1a. Ziggy Zack 5.20, 3.20, 3.00. 3. Wazzu Red 9.40, 5.80. 4. David Strike Back 3.60. EX (1-3) 23.80, QU 20.40, TRI (1-3-4) 162.80. T -- 46.60.

Fifth -- TB clm $2000, 3YO&Up which have not won a race in 2010, 6 furlongs, purse $1,600: 5. Gentle George 5.20, 4.20, 3.60. 7. Whatsamillion 7.20, 3.80. 1. Les Crime 5.80. EX (5-7) 60.80, QU 27.60, TRI (5-7-1) 257.20. T -- 1:15.

Sixth -- Mad Minis Mx.com Special, QH alw, 3YO&Up which have not won a race in 2010, 330 yards, purse $2,000: 7. Awezoomin 7.80, 6.80, 5.00. 4. Tombstone Tina 3.40, 2.80. 2. Beda King 5.20. EX (7-4) 18.80, QU 18.90, TRI (7-4-2) 267.00, SUPER (7-4-2-all) 127.10. T -- 17.12.

Seventh -- TB clm $4000, 3YO&Up which have not won 2 races in 2010, 6 furlongs, purse $1,700: 4. Timely Brush 14.00, 4.20, 3.80. 6. Bullet Train 7.00, 5.00. 5. Shakalaka 4.20. EX (4-6) 41.80, QU 81.90, TRI (4-6-5) 143.40. T -- 1:14.40.

Eighth -- TruForm Racing Services Special, TB clm $4000, 3YO&Up which have never won 2 races, 6 furlongs, purse $1,600: 9. Liberty At the Bar 13.20, 5.80, 3.20. 6. Chrometastic 3.40, 2.40. 8. De Heatison 3.00. EX (9-6) 29.60, QU 34.20, TRI (9-6-8) 157.80. T -- 1:15.

Ninth -- Wild Horse Resort & Casino Au Revoir Special, TB hdcp, 7 furlongs, purse $2,900: 2. Air Pegasus 6.40, 3.00, 2.80. 1. Cougar Defense 6.80, 3.80. 5. Gassan Royal 3.20. EX (2-1) 94.80, QU 75.60, TRI (2-1-5) 151.60. T -- 1:26.

Tenth -- AQHA Merial Distaff Challenge, QHchallenge finals for horses that qualified in trials, 400 yards, purse $30,780: 6. Sheza Bad Habit 8.60, 2.80, 3.20. 7. Daddies Little Girl 2.60, 2.80. 5. Ldscherry Cola Chick 3.80. DD (2-6) 12.60, EX (6-7) 10.20, QU 5.10, TRI (6-7-5) 38.20, SUPER (6-7-5-10) 170.20. T -- 19.59.

Total handle -- $50,008.

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