Having A Good Time

Having A Good Time

Racing a horse is fun – but sharing the experience with friends is even better.

Lynnder 16. PHOTO: Coady Photography

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By Andrea Caudill

Defending Q-Racing Distaff Challenge Championship (G1) victor Lynnder 16 will likely be a heavy favorite as she enters the gates attempting a second consecutive win, and rightly so.

No mare has been able to outrun her in any of her four starts this year at three different racetracks in three different states – Canterbury Park in Minnesota, Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico and Will Rogers Downs in Oklahoma. 

On October 23, during the Bank of America Challenge Championships at The Downs at Albuquerque, the mare will look to add to her black-type career for her owners, Tom Maher and Dick Tobin, in the six-figure stakes. 

The mare has made a career of winning: since her first out in 2018, she has won or placed in 21 of 28 starts and earned $750,983. 

Her second career out was winning the Remington Park Oklahoma-Bred Futurity (RG2), and she also contested the All American Futurity (G1). As a sophomore, she contested the Ruidoso Derby (G1) and won the Paragon Oaks. Last year, she won three stakes, crowned by the Q-Racing Video Distaff Challenge Championship (G1). To date this year, she has won the Q-Racing Video Canterbury Distaff Challenge (G3), Q-Racing Video Ruidoso Distaff Challenge and Q-Racing Video Will Rogers Distaff Challenge

Bred by Jim and Marilyn Helzer, Lynnder 16 is by Apollitical Jess and out of the Corona Cartel mare Tinys Corona Queen, who is a daughter of the great runner and producer Tiny First Effort. The partners got Lynnder 16 as a short yearling at the 2017 Heritage Place Winter Mixed Sale.

“I thought this was an opportunity to be involved in that family, which I think may be one of the best female families around,” Maher said of what drew him to her. “And she has just done everything we’ve asked. She tries every time.” 

Maher and Tobin are also partners with Paul Laudermann on another Challenge Championship qualifier, the Apollitical Jess gelding Apollitical Hero, who is set to run in the Adequan® Derby Challenge Championship (G3). 

Winning or placing in seven of 10 starts this year, the gelding out of the Valiant Hero mare Belle Of Valor contested the Adequan® Will Rogers Derby Challenge and Adequan® Ruidoso Derby Challenge

“He’s really a horse we had a lot of expectations for, and he’s just now coming into his own,” Maher said. “He handles 400 yards really well. He might just surprise them.” 

Maher, who is based in Pierre, South Dakota, has two other horses in the Challenge, including his own Apollitical Mogul, who will also contest the Q-Racing Video Distaff Challenge Championship (G1), and Juice Is Loose, whom he owns in partnership with Stephen N. Williams, and who will run in the Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1). 

Apollitical Mogul, who is by Apollitical Jess and out of the Corona Cartel mare Cash Cartel, has three wins and one second in four starts this year. Her only defeat this year came to Lynnder 16 in the Q-Racing Video Canterbury Distaff Challenge (G3). 

“She’s a special mare,” Maher said. “She’s a scorpion away from the gates, and she gives you 110 percent every time. She’s a beautiful, beautiful mare.” 

Juice Is Loose is a 4-year-old stallion by One Famous Eagle and out of the FDD Dynasty mare Miss Southern DD. He hasn’t been worse than third in all eight starts this year, including a victory in the Two Rivers Stakes (G3) and Skip Zimmerman Memorial Stakes, his two most recent outs. 

“I expect Danjer, as usual, to be very tough, but ‘Juice’ will be trying all he can,” Maher said. 

Maher is a master at partnerships, and most of the horses he races are done with shared ownership. A move, he said, that is very deliberate.

“I think it’s more enjoyable to race with a partner,” he said. “You have someone else to anticipate with, you enjoy their company. I’ve had really good partners. I think it’s almost selfish not to share in a partnership, because that’s part of the joy of racing – to share it with someone you care about.”  

The conditioner on all these horses is Maher’s regular trainer, Jason Olmstead, who with his wife, Amber, will be bringing the four horses mentioned above for the main Championship races, as well as six potential horses for undercard races. 

“It’s due in large part to them,” Maher said of his horses’ successful year so far. “They’re honest people and they run clean and work hard.” 

Maher is looking forward to the Championships, and also added thanks for the program manager, Malynda Reed, the manager of the AQHA Racing Department and longtime Challenge program coordinator. 

“I can’t say enough about how helpful she is, keeping the program run, keeping us informed and promoting the program,” he said. “She’s a top-flight AQHA Challenge representative.” 

Last year’s Challenge Championships produced several year-end racing champions, and the potential is there again this year. Watch for Maher’s good horses amongst the top fields of competitors on October 23. 

Look for complete coverage of the Bank of America Challenge Championships at AQHA's website and on racing social media. If you can't attend the races live at The Downs at Albuquerque on October 23, watch on Q-Racing Video (subscription required).