Challenge Championships: Wide Open County

Rogue County has traveled far to land in the gates of the John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship.

By Andrea Caudill
Q-Racing Journal
October 23, 2012

rogue county

Rogue County

John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship (G2) contender Rogue County is likely to be one of the most well-traveled of the entries in the $150,000 race. He started his career in the Pacific Northwest, took on rivals in Eastern Canada, and is now poised to contest the biggest race of his life in America’s heartland.

It’s not that far different from Cedric Hayden, who bred the horse in partnership and now owns and trains the black gelding by Kipas Special.

Hayden has had a decidedly adventurous life. For seven years, he traveled the world. Among his achievements was successfully mastering what are known as the “Seven Summits” – the highest peaks on every continent in the world, including Mt. Everest in Asia, Mt. McKinley/Denali in North America and Mt. Vinson Massif in Antarctica. Prior to that, he skied through Russia to visit the North Pole.
“The most interesting part of (the Seven Summits) was getting my 70-year-old father to the base camp of Denali, and packing all his gear up to that,” Hayden says. “It was one of the most rewarding parts to have my father join me at base camp at both Everest and Denali. But at Everest there are porters and support – and actually a horse that he rode up to base camp. Denali is in Alaska, and it was probably the most difficult climb. But the most rewarding was having just he, I and a friend to get to that point. He stayed on the radio as I summited it.”

Now retired from his adventuring, Hayden has returned to Oregon, where he is a dentist by trade, owns a heavy construction company and also runs Angus cattle, in addition to the racehorses.

Rogue County races for Hayden’s Cedar Creek Tree Farm Ranch and Racing, based out of Lowell, Oregon. Hayden bred the horse in partnership with his brother, Matt, under the name Hayden Bros. Ranch. The gelding is out of the Royal Quick Dash mare Royal Stakes Quick. He is a full brother to the stakes-placed runner Hill Billee Deluxe. Hayden has an assistant trainer to help out, and gets help with the horses from his wife, Julie, and kids, Aubrie, Wessen and Kalie.

“My daughter, Aubrie, last year showed a little filly named North Pole Guy at our local county fair and got grand champion,” the proud dad reports.

North Pole Guy is now a 2-year-old and is a race winner. She is by Separatist and out of the First Down Dash mare Guys Like It.

Rogue County opened his career at Sun Downs, qualifying to the Pot O’Gold Futurity, but unfortunately lost his rider in the final. He then contested the Firecracker Futurity at Grants Pass Downs. It was then time for a cross-continent journey to Ajax Downs – a journey of nearly 3,000 miles one-way. Hayden and his assistant took six horses to Ajax Downs. Hayden was in attendance for the trials, where Rogue County broke his maiden. He returned to Oregon to get his family to return for the final.

“We rented an RV to have for a few weeks,” he explains. “The RV I had cancelled, and I couldn’t get another one until three days before the final. So we drove straight through to get there for the finals. It was a long drive. But we were successful. It was tiring and exciting all at the same time.”

Rogue County won the $34,427 John Deere Ajax Juvenile Challenge confidently by a half length. In his most recent out, he finished second in his trial to the John Deere Will Rogers Juvenile Challenge. He has been on the board in five of seven starts with earnings of $22,944.

Now there is yet another new adventure for this worldly traveler and his family.

“It’s been a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck, but we get to go to Iowa!” Hayden says.

The 20th Bank of America Challenge Championships are October 27 at Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Altoona, Iowa. Watch the festivities live on Q-Racing Video at and stay tuned to complete coverage from the Q-Racing Journal at