Challenge Championships: Royal Challenge

Veteran A Royal Dervish returns to the Bank of America Challenge Championship stage.

By Andrea Caudill
Q-Racing Journal
October 27, 2012

A Royal Dervish

A Royal Dervish

The Giltner family of Jerome, Idaho, enjoys their racehorses together. The group includes Bob and Linda, as well as their son, Scott, and his wife, Holly, and their children Coltyn and Jordyn. They run their horses under Bob and Scott’s name.

The Giltners, who are involved in the milk-hauling aspect of the dairy industry, got involved in Quarter Horse racing back in the late 1970s, via chariot racing.

“Just a few old geldings,” notes Scott.

The hobby was local and affordable, and it didn’t take long for it to grow – or to branch out.

“Then as things got a little better, we started buying a horse or two a year,” he says. “This just kind of evolved. Then we started breeding.”

They now own about 60 horses, and had about 10 foals born this year. Among the horses they have bred is stakes winner Vodka Soda No Fruit, and the stakes placed-runners Hez A Red Stone, Hawthorne Hawk. The leading runner in their stable is the 7-year-old A Royal Dervish, who is set to run in the $350,000 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1). It will be the gelding’s second appearance in the prestigious race.

The Giltners’ bought A Royal Dervish as a yearling from the 2007 Schvaneveldt/Andreini Sale on the advice of a friend who was familiar with the horse. A Royal Dervish was bred by Abigail Kawananakoa, and is by her homebred stallion Royal Miracle Dip, and out of her homebred First Down Dash mare Three Royal Roses. The winning mare competed in the northwest and at Los Alamitos and earned a top speed index of 102.

A Royal Dervish has in his career won 12 of his 35 career starts, with six seconds and eight third place finishes. He has earned $136,653.

As a 2-year-old, he contested the Pot O’Gold Futurity and John Hoak Memorial/Capital Racing Futurity, but was unable to break his maiden. He returned, however, in his sophomore year to win the Pot O’Gold Derby in his second start of the season. He would close the year with a victory in the Boise Derby.

In his aged years, A Royal Dervish has competed mainly in Challenge events.

“It’s about all we have in the Northwest to run for,” Scott says.

And run for it he did. In 2010, he reeled off a four-race win streak that included the Bank of America Elko Co. Championship Challenge (G3) – a race in which he set a track record and earned a 120 speed index. He would attend his first Challenge Championship that year, at the historic Fair Grounds.

At the start of this year, he reeled off two consecutive wins, including a 2 ¼-length win at the Gem Co. Fair. A poor break in the Les Bois Park Bonus Challenge in July netted disappointing fourth place finish. However, he bounced back, finishing second in his trial and then returning to win the Bank of America Emerald Downs Championship Challenge by a half length, overcoming a bumpy start. In his most recent start, he was second to Lil Bitts A Dash in the Blane Schvaneveldt Handicap at Los Alamitos.

A Royal Dervish is one of only three horses in the Challenge Championship field to be making a return trip to the Championships and one of only two to contest the Championship race more than once. Rylees Boy has the most, with this being his fourth consecutive run in the Bank of America Challenge Championship. Patriots Glory contested the 2010 Adequan Derby Challenge Championship (G1).

What makes A Royal Dervish even more unique is he has not only taken the Giltner’s to the Grade 1 pinnacle of racing, but a few years ago he also returned them to their roots – he competed in chariot racing, and even made it to the chariot Worlds hitched with his equine partner Hasta Be Hawkin.

Trained by Kurt Calton, A Royal Dervish arrived in Iowa on Sunday. It is a long drive from Idaho, but one his owners were glad to make.

“The Challenge is good to us, and we think we should support it,” Scott says of traveling to the Championships.

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