LQHBA Insider - By Martha Claussen June  19, 2024


The 2020 Evangeline Downs Quarter Horse meet is underway and there is still a buzz about the tremendously exciting edition of the $475,851 LQHBA Sale Futurity (RG1) on October 22.

The top ten qualifiers from trials run on October 1st returned to action with Patrick Richardson’s Sheza Freighttrain T sent off as the prohibitive favorite. The Lassie Futurity (RG2) champion ran a game race but was denied by a powerhouse performance by A Double Corona. A trial winner, who set the fifth fastest clocking, broke like a rocket from his rail post position and exploded down the stretch under rider Eddie Sanchez in:17.196 seconds, in which he set a new 350-yard track record while earning a speed index of 105.

Bobby Barnett bred the son of LQHBA and AQHA champion Open Me A Corona out of the Dashin Bye mare, Corona Dashin Bye. He co-owns the speedy juvenile with Tommy Hays, DVM, who could not make the trip to Opelousas due to his busy surgery schedule at the Elgin Veterinary Hospital. Barnett celebrated his homebred’s second and most thrilling victory with his wife, Deeanne and Megan Elizabeth Maloney, the horse-loving fiancée of Hays.

Strong Pedigree on Both Sides

Barnett owns the dam of A Double Corona, Corona Dashin Bye. She made 13 career starts, winning three races and finishing second six times.

“The mare could run,” stated Barnett. “She ran second in the (2011) Lassie Futurity and won her Lee Berwick trial by daylight but did not qualify.”

A Double Corona is her third foal and her first by the exceptionally talented champion Open Me A Corona. Bred in Louisiana by Natalie Montgomery, DVM, Open Me A Corona was purchased for $22,000 at the 2011 LQHBA Yearling Sale by Hays and Charles Forbes Jr. Trained by Bobby Martinez, he is a son of multiple stakes sire Coronas Leaving You from the same sire line as World Champion Wave Carver SI 014 and three-time champion Ocean Runaway.

In his racing career, Open Me A Corona won 16 of 21 career starts and earned $929,150.

He was honored as 2015 AQHA Racing Champion Aged Stallion and was set to retire at the end of 2015. However, his connections felt he was sound and announced he would race as a 6-year-old. Open Me A Corona won four stakes that year, defending his title in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic, before joining the stallion roster at Robicheaux Ranch in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana.

One of most respected veterinarians in the country, Hays is recognized for his expertise in orthopedic and soft tissue surgery. He has tended to many of the top Quarter Horse Champions in the industry and marveled at the soundness of Open Me A Corona throughout his four-year stakes winning tenure.

"It takes a special horse to dominate," stated Hays. "Six stakes in a row on four different tracks at different distances. Open Me A Corona was fast, smart and game."

It has been a thrill for Hays, Barnett and Ryan Robicheaux to see the success of Open Me A Corona as a stallion. The intrepid Louisiana-bred is currently the #4 Leading First-Crop Sire of Money Earners in the nation with A Double Corona as his first stakes winner in his first crop to race.

A Double Corona passed through the 2019 LQHBA Yearling Sale ring and Barnett retained ownership of the sorrel colt for $55,000. He and Hays have co-owned many stakes winners together including Painted Sable, Grade 2 champion Runaway Wagon and Coonascorona, to name a few.

“I had always planned to buy him back,” said Barnett. “In my book, there is no better person to own a horse with than Tommy.”

Hays, who has enjoyed successful partnerships with a number of quality horsemen, feels the same about Barnett.

“Bobby and I are neighbors and have done well together,” acknowledges Hays. “He’s a sharp guy and loves the game.”

And his horses! Barnett won 11 races with one of his first Quarter Horses, Plataoro, who he claimed for $5,000. She was trained by the late K.C. Carden and the 24-year-old mare is enjoying retirement on Barnett’s ranch in Elgin.

Maturity at the Right Time

Trainer Jose Sanchez, III likes the progress that A Double Corona has made since making his debut in trials for the Laddie Futurity at Delta Downs on June 13. “We always knew he was fast, but he tended to swerve and run like a snake in his first two races,” said the young conditioner. “That cost him wins in both of his races at Delta. But he ran a great trial race (for the LQHBA Sale Futurity) and surprised both me and Eddie in the final.”

The rail draw did not bother Sanchez, as it gave his charge one less option in drifting. He broke extremely well, but his powerful finish left Eddie speechless.

“Eddie felt he was running fast, but the way he drew off at 200 yards was really impressive,” added Sanchez.

A Double Corona ($225,732) is the second-highest earner for Sanchez, who also trains Texas-bred Trump My Record. The son of Apollitical Blood has won 11 of his 14 starts with earnings of $906,068.

“We thank God and are blessed to have good owners who have trusted us with quality horses,” he said.

A Double Corona returned to the Sanchez farm in Stockdale, Texas to prepare for his next start in trials for the LQHBA Louisiana Million at Evangeline Downs.

“He’s an easy horse to train,” explained Sanchez. “He had a good check-up with Dr. Hays (on October 29) and we will just keep him happy and schedule some gallops to keep him fit before we van back for the trials.”

Trials for the LQHBA Louisiana Million This Month

On paper, you could title this a quartet of Texans teaming up with a promising son of a Louisiana legend. It’s definitely a story line worth following through trials for the LQHBA Louisiana Million and hopefully a step further.

His connections are hoping that his newfound maturity will set A Double Corona on a straight path in the trials and that maybe he won’t jump the lights like he did in his two previous starts. A top-ten placing will ensure a berth into the seven-figure futurity on Saturday, December 19.

A victory would be a sweet early Christmas gift for Barnett, Hays and the Sanchez brothers, but A Double Corona has already earned a very special place in their hearts.

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The LQHBA Insider is a monthly feature written by Martha Claussen for www.lqhba.com. She served as publicity director at Sam Houston Race Park for ten years. She continues to be active in writing, fan education and Quarter Horse racing publicity in Texas, Louisiana and other regions in North America.