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'Chick In Black' Has Hands-On Owners

All American Futurity fastest qualifier has hands-on owners.

By Amy Owens
Q-Racing Journal
August 31, 2012

PJ Chick In Black

PJ Chick In Black is lead to post by co-owner Susie Taylor.

For an example of hands-on racehorse ownership, look no further than PJ Chick In Black, the undefeated filly who is the fastest qualifier to Monday's $2.4 million All American Futurity (G1). Co-owner Denny Bowen is a farrier who has worked on PJ Chick In Black ever since she went into training. Bowen's girlfriend, Susie Taylor, is a pony girl who has accompanied the filly to the starting gate for all five of her races.

“It's hard to describe,” said Bowen, who has been shoeing horses for some 40 years, about the experience. “I've shod a lot of Grade 1 stakes winners, but to have one of your own, that's a whole different deal.”

PJ Chick In Black, by Desirio, was bred in New Mexico by Fredda Draper, who raced her with Bowen to win her first four starts. That span included the New Mexican Spring Futurity (RG2) on April 8 at Sunland Park and the Ruidoso Futurity (G1) on June 9 when the filly was trained by Draper's husband, Carl. Prior to the All American trials, Taylor's parents, Jack and Lynne Smith, bought Draper's share in the filly and turned her over to trainer John Stinebaugh.

Supplemented to the All American for $50,000, PJ Chick In Black won the 24th of 26 trials on August 16 by a whopping 5 3/4 lengths under Esgar Ramirez in :21.081. She will break from Post 8 in Monday's final.

Bowen is from Quincy, Michigan, and is good friends with such successful horsemen from that state as Richard and Carol Rettele, Walter and Carolyn Bay, and Teresa Briggs Marr. He met Stinebaugh in the mid-1980s when Stinebaugh was an assistant to Blane Schvaneveldt and brought horses to race in Michigan. He met Susie 10 years ago at now-defunct Great Lakes Downs in Michigan. When they couple moved to El Paso in 2005, Bowen began shoeing horses for Stinebaugh, who by then was on his own. Today, Bowen works on American Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds competing at Sunland, Ruidoso and Zia Park while Taylor ponies horses in the mornings and during the races.

The Smiths own Jack Smith Farms, a 180-acre farm in Tilbury, Ontario, about 40 miles east of Detroit, where they have cattle and horses and are involved in the wholesale fuel business. The family has owned Paints and American Quarter Horses and competed in numerous activities, including team penning, barrel racing, western pleasure and roping, but never had owned a racehorse until PJ Chick In Black. Because Jack doesn't like to fly, he and his wife drove 1,700 miles to Ruidoso Downs to watch the All American trials. For this latest trip, Lynne stayed home and Susie's younger brother Mark accompanied his dad.

On Monday, Susie will be aboard “Junior,” her unraced gelding by Feature Mr Jess, on the journey to the starting gate with PJ Chick In Black. Her role in the filly's career enables her to handle a world-class athlete but means she has a challenging view of the races from behind the starting gates. Her first opportunity to watch her filly's dominating performance in the All American trials came Thursday night at the track's annual party to recognize the connections of the Futurity and All American Derby (G1) horses.

“It's unbelievable,” Taylor said of PJ Chick In Black's success this year. “I would have never even dreamed this would happen.”

Fans can watch the All American Derby and Futurity – and many other races – free of charge at www.qracingvideo.com. Q-Racing Video provides unlimited access to live and replay simulcast race video of most American Quarter Horse tracks in the United States and Canada. For complete coverage of All American week at Ruidoso Downs, visit www.aqharacing.com. Read the September issue of the Q-Racing Journal, the digital publication covering American Quarter Horse racing, for full post-race analysis, at www.aqharacing.com, and find us on Facebook (Q-Racing) or Twitter (@AQHARacing).