With one horse to go, Equi-Stat Elite $1 Million Rider Jose Vazquez had a 7.5-point lead in the Carolina Classic Derby Non-Pro. The win was so close. The last person with a chance to beat him: his daughter, Mariana Vazquez.
Mariana sure made it interesting, riding one of the best rounds of the afternoon on her family’s buckskin, Wimpy Little Tejano. Their final score – a 221 – was good enough for the Level 3 Championship, but was just a few points shy of knocking her father and Like Shiner out of the top spot in the Level 4.
Jose, who says he gets nervous watching Mariana ride, was thrilled to see his daughter put in such a nice run. However, he couldn’t resist teasing her as well
“I told her ‘You beat me, that’s the last time you show the horse. I’m taking over,’” he said, laughing.
Jose’s win Friday afternoon in the Carolina Classic Derby Level 4 Non-Pro was his second major victory this year aboard Like Shiner. Last month, he piloted the homebred mare by Smart Like Juice to the National Reining Breeders Classic Level 4 Non-Pro Championship.
Jose credited the mare’s talent and preparation for their success at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, North Carolina. At the farm, she is prepared by trainer Alejandro Ortiz-Vasquez.
Jose said the mare is unique in that every time the mare walks into the pen, she’s ready and willing to do whatever her rider wants. It’s the kind of thing that gives a rider confidence.
“I can walk to the center and sit down there for two hours and she [will] not move. Or she’s down there for a second and she’s ready to do what I need to,” he said. “So that’s one of the greatest feelings any rider can get in a horse.”
The 2012 mare, who had about $88,000 in earnings going into the show, improved her lifetime Equi-Stat record of more than $94,000. She is owned and bred by Smart Like Juice Inc., which is named after Jose’s stallion, Equi-Stat Elite $3 Million Sire Smart Like Juice.
Like Shiner is the fourth-highest earner from her dam, Wind Her Up Shiner. The 1998 broodmare (Shining Spark x Wind Her Up Doc x Docs Sidewinder) has an Equi-Stat produce record of 22 performers with more than $771,000 in earnings.
For her part, Mariana was just glad she finally got a clean run on Wimpy Little Tejano. The 19-year-old college student and the stallion, nicknamed Tejano, had previously had trouble perfecting their stops.
“We weren’t getting stopped very well, so that’s what we’ve been working on: me getting past the second cone, and me and him being on the same page” said Mariana, who studies international business at Loyola University in Chicago, Illinois. “So, when I ran down and he stopped so amazing for me I was really really happy with him.”
She thought the run had probably earned her something around a 218 or 219. She had no idea it would be even bigger than that.
“When I heard 21 I was in like shock, because I’ve never marked that heihg with him before, so I was really, really, really happy,” she said.
Although Mariana didn’t quite get by her father at the Carolina Classic with Wimpy Little Tejano (Wimpys Little Step x Tejana Chic x Smart Chic Olena), she’s beaten him before and hopes to do it again next month at the National Reining Horse Association Derby.
“I was close – close to getting him,” she said. “But, if it’s not this show, it’ll be the next one maybe.”
Although he’s an accomplished and competitive rider, Jose looks forward to the day when his daughter beats him again.
“I don’t think there’s nothing better to lose to your own daughter, in my case, or your own son,” he said. “So believe me, I’ll be just as happy that we were first and second today and…I hope that we see in the future that she’ll win and I’ll be second.”
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