News and Notes for March 18, 2016

Reflector (Ready’s Image – Passionate Dancer) takes on a full field in the $50,000 Colonel Power Overnight Stakes at Fair Grounds on Saturday afternoon.  Bred by John T. L. Jones, Jr. the five-year-old horse runs for owner Preston Stables LLC.  With a career record of 18-4-2-3 and earnings of $134,126, he has been given odds of 12-1.

On Saturday, from Hot Springs, Arkansas to Odessa, Texas, those with the closest interest in Suddenbreakingnews will be hoping he stops the presses with a victory in the Grade 2, $900,000 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park and continues his march toward the Kentucky Derby on May 7 at Churchill Downs.

Longtime TTA member and former director Sonny Henderson’s Suddenbreakingnews is the 3/1 favorite in a full field for the Rebel Stakes, which is the final major local prep for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) on April 16 and offers 85 points to the top four finishers (50-20-10-5) toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Derby, which is limited to 20 starters.

Suddenbreakingnews comes off a rousing victory in last month’s $500,000 (gr. III) Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn, where he rallied from last to first in a 14-horse field. That gave him three wins and three seconds in six starts and stamps him as one of the elite prospects for both the Rebel and next month’s Arkansas Derby.

“You don’t get horses like this very often,” said the 78-year-old Henderson. “I’ve had a lot of stakes horses that have done well, but I’ve never had one like this.” 

Henderson has had good success over five decades with both Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses and is still active with both breeds.

With Thoroughbreds, Henderson’s best runner may have been the speedy Matching, a multiple stakes-winning mare in the early 1980s whom Henderson bred and then privately sold. He also bred and sold Icy Morn, a local legend in the Southwest in the mid-1990s, when she won 20 of 39 starts while racing primarily in Arkansas, New Mexico, and Texas.

Henderson, who has interests in oil and gas as well as cattle, backed off for a while, battled health problems, and remarried five years ago. But with a new wife and newfound good health, Henderson said, “I decided that now that I’m feeling good, I had to do something.”

He jumped back into racing with a handful of Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses. Henderson said one of his favorite Thoroughbred trainers from years ago was Don Von Hemel, and through mutual acquaintances, he was able to place his runners with Von Hemel’s son Donnie K. Von Hemel.

Suddenbreakingnews was purchased as a yearling for $72,000. Once he started running, his name caught the attention of Molly Young, a newspaper reporter in Oregon. Her grandfather is Don Von Hemel, and her uncle is Donnie K. Von Hemel.

“I never wanted to go into racing,” Young said. “I always wanted to go into journalism. When this horse was relatively young, I saw one of his races and thought the name was ironic,” given her line of work.

Henderson had no idea his trainer had a niece in the news business. But he’ll take whatever good-luck charms he can find.

Henderson has also been busy fielding calls from roughly 10 different people offering to purchase Suddenbreakingnews. But given his renewed love for the horses and the business, Henderson wants to hold on and continue the ride–a decision that comes with new perspective just a few years after getting back in the game.

Selling the Game is a series of articles in American Racehorse magazine about the excitement of Thoroughbred racehorse ownership and how to attract new owners, by Fred Taylor Jr. He is the founder and managing partner of Mojo Thoroughbred Holdings LLC, which operates Mojo Racing Partners offering affordable opportunities for newcomers and veterans to become involved in Thoroughbred ownership. Taylor serves as a liaison to the Department of Transportation for a major airline and is a former recipient of the Texas Thoroughbred Association’s Allen Bogan Memorial Award for member of the year.

The six individual articles are: 

Part 1: Pure Competition

Part 2: The Underlying Elements of a Memorable Ownership Experience

Part 3: Types of Ownership and Costs

Part 4: Understanding the Training Stages, Types of Races and Entry Process

Part 5: Achieving Your Dream by Having a Plan, Setting Goals and Keeping a Budget

Part 6: Hiring a Trainer and Acquiring Bloodstock

View these articles at

American Racehorse and Fred Taylor Jr. are pleased to grant permission for this content to be reproduced or redistributed by anyone or any organization seeking to educate or attract new owners to Thoroughbred racing.

The board of directors of the Texas Thoroughbred Educational Fund has announced scholarship recipients for the 2016 – 2017 school year. Two current recipients whose scholarships were extended are Quentin McPherson, son of TTA members Kenny and Jackie McPherson of Canadian, who is studying Natural Resource Ecology and Management at Oklahoma State University, and Victoria Spakes, daughter of TTA member Audrea Spakes of Round Rock, an Animal Science major at Sam Houston State University.

Two new recipients are Wyatt Sheffield, son of TTA member Tracy Sheffield of Wimberley, who will study Computer Science at Texas State University, and Bryson Smith, son of TTA member Doug Smith of Clarksville, who will attend Texas Tech University to major in Kinesiology.
Following two years of dedicated work to achieve the standards put forth by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC), the Drug Testing Laboratory at the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) has received full accreditation. The efforts of both the professionals in the Drug Testing Laboratory and the Quality Assurance Section at TVMDL resulted in TVMDL being named the seventh laboratory to receive full accreditation. 

Routinely, the Drug Testing Laboratory receives samples from equine and canine owners, as well as samples from fairs and livestock shows looking to ensure fair competition through a drug testing program. The Drug Testing Laboratory annually performs more than 3,500 tests for livestock and 3,500 tests for equine racing animals. Since 1989, when the Texas Racing Act gave TVMDL the responsibility for providing drug testing services to the pari-mutuel horse and greyhound racing industries, the Drug Testing Laboratory has provided reliable screening for illegal and regulated therapeutic drugs in performance animals. Expert chemists work with veterinarians, offering diagnostic testing that helps ensure animal and public health.

TVMDL has invested in the Drug Testing Laboratory through new, state-of-the-art instrumentation to test samples, additional experienced personnel, and ensuring test offerings meet the needs of all clients served, from the Texas Thoroughbred Association to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. The livestock and racing industries have an impact on the state economy, and therefore, the work performed at TVMDL must meet the highest standard.

NOTES: Congrats to Karl Broberg, who dominated the trainer standings from start to finish at Delta Downs while breaking the track record for most wins in a single season with 93. The Arlington, Texas resident also set a new mark for success by a leading trainer with a 33% win rate. Broberg has now won five consecutive leading trainer titles dating back to the 2011-2012 seasons…We offer condolences to the family of Matthew “Cole” Norman, a former leading trainer in the Southwest, who passed away this week at the age of 47… Income tax time will soon be upon us and the American Horse Council’s Tax Tips for Horse Owners provides a quick rundown of tax laws and tax tips that affect horse owners and breeders.  It is available for $10 at… Make plans to attend the Texas Thoroughbred 2-Year-Old Sale at noon on April 4 at Lone Star Park.  For more info, see… The next meeting of the TTA Board of Directors will be 5pm on Sunday, April 3 at Lone Star Park.