Texas Champions to be Honored with Online Video Presentation; Dr. Charles Graham, Bret Calhoun and Jeff Hooper Announced as Award Winners

The 2019 Texas Champion horses and horsemen, which normally would have been honored during the Texas Thoroughbred Association’s annual meeting and awards banquet, will instead be showcased online with a video presentation highlighting their achievements. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the TTA’s annual event in March was postponed.

“We still hope to get our members and award winners together for an event later this year, but due to the uncertainty of whether that will happen we decided to put our awards video online to honor all the winners,” said Mary Ruyle, executive director of the TTA. “We invite TTA members and all horsemen, horsewomen and racing fans to join us on our Facebook page (facebook.com/TexasThoroughbredAssociation) on Sunday, June 14 at 5 p.m. Central to watch the premiere of the video, and it will be available for replay after that. That’s the same day Lone Star Park will present the Texas Champion Day stakes originally scheduled to be held at Sam Houston Race Park, so we are likely to see some future and current champions in action on the track.”

The equine award winners, topped by Texas Horse of the Year Mr Money Bags, were announced in January, but the human award winners are not normally revealed until the awards banquet.

The human award winners for 2019 are three of the most accomplished horsemen in the Lone Star State. There are two recipients of the Allen Bogan Memorial Award, named for the longtime Texas turf writer and formerly known as the TTA Member of the Year.

Noted veterinarian Charles W. Graham earned his second Allen Bogan Award for his efforts to help pass House Bill 2463, which injects up to $25 million annually into the Texas horse industry. Dr. Graham previously earned the TTA’s T.I. “Pops” Harkins Award for lifetime achievement and is a member of the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame, the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame and the Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame, among many other accolades and awards.  

The co-winner of this year’s Bogan Award is longtime industry executive Jeff Hooper. Over a span of decades working in Texas, Hooper has held top positions at the TTA, National Cutting Horse Association and Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie. Like Dr. Graham, Hooper was instrumental in the effort to pass House Bill 2463. Hooper currently works as chairman and CEO of Highlander Training Center in Sulphur Springs, Texas.

The T.I. “Pops” Harkins Award for lifetime achievement goes to native Texan Bret Calhoun. Perennially among the leading trainers both in Texas and nationally, Calhoun has trained two Breeders’ Cup winners, Chamberlain Bridge and Dubai Majesty, both for Texas connections. He’s also had great success with Texas-bred runners over the years, most notably in the colors of Texas’ Valor Farm. All told, Calhoun has trained more than 3,100 winners with earnings of nearly $85 million.

Following is the complete list of the 2019 champion horses:

2-Year-Old Filly: Gee She Sparkles (by Race Day) • Owners: GFB Racing LLC and Danny Pish • Breeder: Inside Move

Co-2-Year-Old Colt/Gelding: Bubba Bling (by Too Much Bling) • Owner: Darren Fleming • Breeder: James Wessel

Co-2-Year-Old Colt/Gelding: Moro Said Ready (by Moro Tap) • Owners: Penn Family Racing and Kevin Clifton • Breeder: Kevin Clifton

3-Year-Old Filly: Ima Discreet Lady (by Discreet Cat) • Owners: Duane Coker and Raymond Todd White • Breeder: Larry Huntsinger

Older Filly/Mare: Shes Our Fastest (by Oratory) • Owners: Mark Norman and Norman Stables LLC • Breeder: Eureka Thoroughbred Farm

Older Horse: Redatory (by Oratory) • Breeder/Owner: James Wessel

Champion Broodmare: Miss Photogenic (by You and I)

Champion Claimer: Smart’s Kingdom (by Sir Smart) • Breeder/Owner: Bradley Martin

Paddock Foundation OTTB of the Year: Tenpin Sugar • Owner: Katherine Deichmann Horse of the Year and 3-Year-Old Colt/Gelding: Mr Money Bags (by Silver City) • Owner/Breeder: Roy Cobb