Q-Racing Blog: Memorable Challenge Championships

Q-Racing Blog: Memorable Challenge Championships

It’s time to get excited for this great event.

Down With Debt

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By Ty Wyant

Great races are built on their history. They combine top-tier horses that went on to win championships with memorable performances. The $250,000 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1) is one of those races.

This year’s regional races have been contested, entries will be taken on October 20 and the main event will run on October 23 at The Downs at Albuquerque. First post time is 4 p.m. MST.

If you can’t be there in person, the race can be viewed on Q-Racing Video. Go to the AQHA racing web page for a link to Q-Racing Video. There is also a link to the Challenge Championships web section with an abundance of information.

Trivia question: Who won last year’s Bank of America Challenge Championship and is expected to defend his title?

The Bank of America Challenge Championship fits the definition of a great race. These races began in 1993. Let’s look back at some of the memorable performances from the race’s first 10 years.

This is only an overview of some of the horses that won the Bank of America Challenge Championship. It is not a ranking and is in chronological order.

Down With Debt

George Haddad’s homebred Down With Debt won the second running of the Bank of America Challenge Championship and went on to be honored as that year’s world champion title. It was her sixth consecutive victory.

Down With Debt went off as the 3-5 favorite and easily handled the competition at her Los Alamitos home track. She put one-half-length on her rivals at the halfway mark of the 440-yard race and then drew out to a 1-length win.

During her 1994 winning streak, she raced to wins in the Go Man Go Handicap (G1), Vessels Maturity (G1), Las Damas Handicap (G2) and the California Challenge Championship (G3).

SLM Big Daddy

Lindsey and Steve Mitchell’s homebred SLM Big Daddy was the world champion in 1997 and 1998, and won the Challenge Championship at Los Alamitos during his first world championship campaign.

SLM Big Daddy employed his usual late-running style to take the 1997 Challenge Championship. He battled with the leaders and then showed his class by pulling out to a one-half-length victory.

The gelding followed up that win with a victory in the Champion of Champions (G1).

Earlier that year, he won the Remington Park Championship (G1), Remington Gold Cup (G2), Eastex Handicap (G2), Midwest City Stakes (G3) and the Mexico Championship Challenge (G3), which was hosted at Retama Park.

Tailor Fit

Betty Jane Burlin’s Tailor Fit was the 1999 and 2001 world champion, and his Challenge Championship win came during his second world championship year.

The gelding showed his grit while holding off his challengers to win the Challenge Championship at Los Alamitos by a neck.

Like SLM Big Daddy, Tailor Fit follow his Challenge Championship victory with a Champion of Champions victory.

During his 2001 world championship journey, he won the Oklahoma Championship Challenge (G1) and Remington Park Championship (G1).

Streakin Sin Tacha

Janet VanBebber’s Streakin Sin Tacha shared the 2002 world championship with Whosleavingwho after winning the Challenge Championship at Lone Star Park.

Streakin Sin Tacha dealt with a sloppy track as the 3-5 favorite and rallied to win by one-half length.

The gelding then concluded his world championship run with a win in The Championship at Sunland Park (G1). Earlier that year, he won the Texas Challenge Championship (G1) and the Sam Houston Classic (G2).

The Challenge Championship started as a class race and continues to hold that distinction. Last year, the champion aged horse and champion aged gelding used the Challenge Championships as a springboard to earning his titles. 


Trivia answer: 2020 aged champion and champion aged gelding Danjer

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).