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All American: Happy Tales

Wagon Tales goes into the All American Futurity with the fastest qualifying time.

By Richard Chamberlaind
Q-Racing Journal
September 1, 2013

wagon tales

Wagon Tales

Happy is as happy does. Judd Kearl has a happy horse. And that horse – Wagon Tales – will go to post with the fastest qualifying time in the $2.6 million All American Futurity (G1) at Ruidoso Downs on Labor Day.

“Having happy horses is real important to us,” said Kearl, who trains the PYC Paint Your Wagon colt for Gilbert Villareal’s JNB Enterprises LLC of Mission, Texas. “Wagon Tales is a real mature professional, the kind you like to have in the barn. He just does everything right. He’s a real happy horse.”

Clocking :21.021, Wagon Tales in his trial defeated All American qualifiers Skuze Pleeze by a length with Fatal Policy another half length back. Wagon Tales now has won three of five races, including the April 21 Remington Park Oklahoma Bred Juvenile Stakes (R), and has earned $165,061. Wagon Tale in the trials was making his first start since finishing third in the June 1 Heritage Place Futurity (G1) behind Big Biz Perry and Hes Relentless.

Wagon Tales is one of two winners, both of stakes, from five starters bred by Robert and Jill Mixer’s The Mixer Ranch at Edmond, Oklahoma. The other stakes winner is Second Painted Sign ($100,604), a son of PYC Paint Your Wagon out of Wagon Tales’ second dam, the Vital Sign mare Stylish Sign ($28,306).

Kearl picked Wagon Tales out of the 2012 Heritage Place Yearling Sale for $33,000.

“Gilbert has had a lot of luck with ‘Paint Your Wagons,’ but he couldn’t go up to the sale that year,” Kearl said. “We basically looked at every Paint Your Wagon colt that was in the sale. This colt came from a good family and he was bigger than a lot of Paint Your Wagons. Gilbert is always looking for something to go to Ruidoso and he just looked like the big kind of colt that would grow up and mature out and would want to run down the racetrack. So we bought him and it’s been a lot of fun.

“He’s a great big colt, and mind-wise he’s been real mature since we got him,” Kearl said. “Body-wise, Wagon Tales needed a little time to grow up to where his mind is. Now he loves to train, he loves his job. But I’ve had quite a few Paint Your Wagons and they’re all just good horses.”

A perennial leading trainer at tracks in Texas, where in May he won his sixth leading-trainer title at Sam Houston Race Park, the 38-year-old Kearl has been training American Quarter Horses since 1996. Through mid-August, he had saddled the winners of 4,121 starters who had won 633 Quarter Horse races and earned more than $6.7 million. Last year, Kearl scored his first Grade 1 victory when he sent out Byron Gardner’s Valiant Lil Lady in the Texas Classic Futurity (G1).
Kearl has been leading trainer twice at Lone Star Park, won his third title this summer at Retama Park and has done exceptionally well at Sam Houston Race Park, where he won his first leading trainer title in 2006 and has added five more since. In 2012, Kearl was the sport’s 11th-leading conditioner nationally, when his starters’ $1,389,064 was less than $10,000 from ranking him in the top-10.

“You're only as good as your horses, your help and your owners,” Kearl said. “I have to give a lot of credit to my assistants. Bradley Mason runs my barn at Ruidoso and Remington, and Arturo Carillo, a former rider, takes care of stuff in Texas when I’m on the road.

“And my owners,” Kearl continued. “I sent a couple horses out to John Stinebaugh at Ruidoso last year. I’ve had some owners who wanted me to go to Ruidoso before, but I’ve never had the horsepower to go out there with. But this year, we had some pretty nice babies, so I just decided it was time to go. And I’m glad I did. I thank my owners for giving me the opportunity to go out there to Ruidoso. And I’ve got good help, and that’s why I can be spread out like I am.”

Extended coverage of the All American weekend is provided by the Q-Racing Journal. Read the digital Q-Racing Journal at If you cannot attend the races live, watch them on Q-Racing Video at