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Keri Blackledge wins Baker Reining Classic

By DANIEL K. LEW / Horsetrader staff - September 3rd, 2009 - Show & Event News

Keri Blackledge and Gettinaway Whiz It take the 19th Annual Pacific Coast Horse Shows Association’s Jack and Linda Baker Reining Classic Finals Aug. 14-15.

Daniel K. Lew / Horsetrader photo

Keri Blackledge and Gettinaway Whiz It take the 19th Annual Pacific Coast Horse Shows Association’s Jack and Linda Baker Reining Classic Finals Aug. 14-15.

BURBANK — Put a rider’s perseverance and a good horse together, and one has the chance to shine in the horse show ring. Keri Blackledge of Costa Mesa, Calif., did just that riding Gettinaway Whiz It. They won the 19th annual Pacific Coast Horse Shows Association’s Jack and Linda Baker Reining Classic. Blackledge had been showing in the Baker class for the past 10 years–since she was 11 years old.

The 2009 PCHA Jack and Linda Baker Reining Classic Finals were held Aug. 14-15 at Los Angeles Equestrian Center as part of the Cancer Awareness Classic Championships Horse Show from Aug. 13-16. Also featured at the horse show was the PCHA Youth/Amateur Trail Classic won by Mary Ellen Locke riding Too Flashy To Zip.

Thirty-two rider-and-horse pairs qualified for the Jack and Linda Baker Reining Classic Finals by riding in qualifying classes throughout the year.

Suspense and enthusiastic crowds filled the Los Angeles Equestrian Center’s Equidome as the 32 finalists lined up, side by side for the awards presentations. As each placing in reverse order was announced, the rider-and-horse pairs departed the arena to accept their ribbons and wide variety of prizes.

When it came down to the final two left in the arena–Keri Blackledge on Gettinaway Whiz It and Rebecca Murray on Gatolotto–it was anyone’s guess, as both pairs had been riding exceptionally well all weekend and throughout the year.

After two go-rounds in the finals, Blackledge and her 9-year-old gelding Gettinaway Whiz It, also known as “Frankie,” were declared the champions with a total score of 291.5.

Keri Blackledge wins the PCHA Jack and Linda Baker Reining Classic Finals aboard Gettinaway Whiz It, a 9-year-old gelding owned by Warledge, LLC.

Daniel K. Lew / Horsetrader photo

Keri Blackledge wins the PCHA Jack and Linda Baker Reining Classic Finals aboard Gettinaway Whiz It, a 9-year-old gelding owned by Warledge, LLC.

“I’ve known Becca for six or seven years now–and she’s an amazing rider–so whether it was her or me, I was happy for either one of us to win,” Blackledge said. “The competition was very hard; there’s a lot of outstanding riders out there and it was very close. I knew yesterday my run was pretty good; and today, I just went in there and had fun–that’s the most important thing.”

Blackledge was also thankful for the huge support from friends and family, including parents Kevin and Teri, and younger sister Jillian. “This could not have happened without Brenda Brown–I’ve ridden with her for 10 years and there’s no way I would be where I am right now without her,” Blackledge said of the Temecula-based trainer.
This fall, Blackledge will be starting her senior year at California State University, Fresno, as a liberal studies major, and she also rides for its equestrian team. She is also qualified for the AQHA World Championship Show from Nov. 6-21 in Oklahoma City, Okla.

Blackledge hopes to become an equestrian coach and “just keep riding–it’s my No. 1 passion.”

The Baker Reining Classic reserve champion with a score of 288.5 was Rebecca Murray riding her horse, Gatolotto. Murray, 18, of Burbank was among the stand-out riders in the Baker finals and other classes during the show. “She’s a great horseperson, a good showman, does well in school, and is a class act all the way around,” trainer Tom Foran said of Murray, who will be attending Texas A&M University this fall on a riding scholarship.

Rebecca Murray and Gatolotto win reserve championship honors in the Jack and Linda Baker Reining Classic Finals.

Daniel K. Lew / Horsetrader photo

Rebecca Murray and Gatolotto win reserve championship honors in the Jack and Linda Baker Reining Classic Finals.

Sheree Burton rode her Hollywood Smart Guy to third place in the Baker Reining finals with a 286 total score.

In the Jack and Linda Baker Reining Classic Finals Rookie 49 & Under division, Jessica Tourino won aboard SB Top Dun, owned by Kim Tourino.

The Jack and Linda Baker Rookie 50 & Over champion was Jesse Ross riding Mega Angelena, owned by Jesse and Barbara Ross.

“The show was just terrific; huge numbers all around; over 30 horses in the Baker Finals! This was a very wide-open class. Literally anyone could have won the championship,” said Georgiana Rodrigues of PCHA and chairperson for the Baker finals. “The Trail Classic was also great, and there was added fun with the Pro/Amateur Trail Class; exhibitors loved it. A nice exhibitor’s party for one and all was another reason for exhibitors to get together. Thanks has to go to everyone including show managers Track One Events and Larry and Ponce Gimple. As always, a well-run show that had things going on in every arena—and you thought Barnum and Bailey had to organize!”

The show offered for the first time a Pro-Am Trail Class in which the participants had to ride a trail course, drive a golf race and throw darts. The winners were Pam Turnbull in the Pro division and Sue Merchant in the Amateur class.

The Classic Championships Horse Show was dedicated to cancer awareness for the second year. Show organizers said the mission of the Cancer Awareness and Classic Championships Horse Show was to raise awareness and funds for a cancer charity, honor survivors and show support.

Free pink scarves and special cancer-awareness, pink wristbands with the message “Ride for Life” were given to exhibitors and spectators, along with pink decorations throughout the venue. Many exhibitors wore the pink bandanas in innovative ways on saddles, hats, wrists and elsewhere. The judges wore pink everyday, too.

Jessica Tourino and SB Top Dun, owned by Kim Tourino, win the Jack and Linda Baker Reining Classic Finals Rookie 49 & Under division.

Carolyn Read / Horsetrader photo

Jessica Tourino and SB Top Dun, owned by Kim Tourino, win the Jack and Linda Baker Reining Classic Finals Rookie 49 & Under division.

All proceeds from a silent auction, in memory of Emily Jungers, were donated to the City of Hope Cancer Center and Hospital, and cancer education information was available at the show.

“Still and all, the show had a sense of loss. Emily Jungers, who passed away from cancer this year, was not there,” Rodrigues said. “I certainly missed her this year with the Baker finals. She loved that event, and couldn’t wait to be a scribe for it. No doubt, she was missed that Saturday night.”

Among the special awards presented at the show was the Emily Jungers Memorial Perpetual Trophy for the high-point horse of the show: Zippos Smooth Trip, owned and ridden by Jeanne McNerney. The Mel Lawson-sculpted trophy is beautiful bronze named “Heart Breaker” and shows a cowgirl from the shoulders up.

Also, the new Emily Jungers Memorial Green Rider Trophy was presented to Chris Joffe riding Peppy Sugar Chex. Joffe was also given a pair of Abby Cosenza custom-made spurs with Emily’s initials in a heart and a pink ribbon engraved on the spur.

“This show is very dear to my heart because of the cancer awareness theme. We just lost a very dear friend–an employee of Track One; she showed horses most of her life; and my best friend–to cancer,” Ponice Gimple said of Emily Jungers. “She had a stem cell transplant from City of Hope, but later lost the battle. I have signs in front of the show office with cancer facts and the importance of early detection; the trail course is decorated pink.”

In the Jack and Linda Baker Reining Finals, the High Point Mare was Whiz Out Chex, ridden by Cady Shaw. “There was a special picture taken with the key people that helped save this horse a few years ago as a 3 year old, when the horse wedged its leg between the stall door and wall, severely injuring the leg,” Poncie said. “Penni Gerardi first saw the accident; Larry Gimple and Jim McCarty ripped the door off. Larry accompanied Cady and her horse to the emergency vet in the middle of the night. With only a couple hours of sleep, Larry managed the show the next day.”

For complete show results, visit the Web site: www.trackoneevents.com

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