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From The Quarter Racing Record, March, 1988

If there were any doubts left, first down Dash dispelled them in the Champion of Champions in December. Like nine winners of that race before him, he parlayed the victory into the World Champion's title.

 

Not that there should have been much doubt. The sport's most prestigious event capped an eight-race winning streak for the sorrel three-year-old.

 

First Down Dash is owned by Vessels' Stallion Farm of Bonsall, California, trained by Blane Schvaneveldt and ridden by James Lackey. The Vessels family has been associated with a number of Champions over the years, including Timeto Thinkrich, Duplicate Copy, and Whataway to Go. But this is the first time they've taken the World Championship.

 

Millie Vessels paid $97,000 for First Down Dash as a yearling at the Phillips Ranch Sale. The horse was bred by A.F. Stanley Jr. and the late B.F. Phillips Jr. He is out of First Prize Rose, a mare from a female line that also produced Champion Heza Charger.

 

The top side of his pedigree -- Dash For Cash -- needs no introduction to Champion watchers. A two-time World Champion himself, Dash has sired four of the last five World Champions: Dashingly, Dashs Dream, Cash Rate, and now First Down Dash.

 

As a freshman, First Down Dash made $518,000 with wins in the Kindergarten and Dash For Cash Futurities before being sidelined by injury.

 

When he returned to the track in April 1987 after an eight-month layoff, he suffered his only defeat of the year when Will Be Easy downed him in the Grade 3 Town Policy Handicap.

 

From there, he went into Grade 1 Los Alamitos Derby, the Grade 2 Laddie Handicap, and the Grade 1 Dash For Cash Derby, winning by a length or more and shattering the stakes record each time.

 

Despite a bad start, he ran down Kipscash in the Hollywood Park Championship to win by a nose.

 

Then he took the inaugural Quarter Horse Breeders Classics Championship by a length after a two-month break.

 

His crowning achievement was in the Champion of Champions, where he emulated his sire by posting the biggest winning margin in the race's star-studded history: a length and three quarters. His winning time of :21.39 was the second fastest ever for a night-time Champion of Champions.

 

 

First Down Dash's 1987 record showed nine starts for eight wins and a second, with earnings of $339,136. In the course of his career, he started 15 times for 13 wins and a second, earning $857,256.

 

Since the AQHA instituted the World Champion title in 1940, the award has been given 46 times to 37 different individuals. Nineteen of them have been three-year-olds. Of the sophomores that have risen to the top, only Dashs Dream and Easy Date made more money than First Down Dash during their World Champion years.

 

First Down Dash was the third Champion for jockey James Lackey whole piloted Cash Rate and Leading Star in their glamor years.

 

Blane Schvaneveldt has been associated with more Champions than any other trainer. He has saddled 15 title holders when there were at the top of their game, including World Champions Miss Thermolark, Super Sound Charge, and Cash Rate.

 

First Down Dash left the track to stand to a full book of mares at Vessels's Stallion Farm this spring.

 

 

 

Artist Ginny Harding's beautiful painting

 of First Down Dash

on the cover of the March 1988

Quarter Racing Record.

 

 

 


 

 

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The Quarter Racing Journal Cover, Jan. 1988

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