April 6, 2014, Aurora, Colorado ~ Written By Jonathan Horowitz
The road to the Darley Awards goes through Arapahoe Park. The Arabian Racing Cup recognized the breed’s top racehorses in the United States from 2013 in a Hollywood-style ceremony on April 4 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California—also the site of the Academy Awards. Every 2013 Arabian stakes winner at Arapahoe Park in Aurora, Colorado captured the Darley Award in his or her respective division. So Big Is Better was named horse of the year and top older horse. Ms Dixie won top older mare honors. Mahra T earned the Darley for top 4-year-old filly. Scott Powell, the leading Arabian trainer at Arapahoe Park in 2013, won the trainer of the year title. Mark Powell, Scott’s brother and the owner of So Big Is Better, was owner of the year.
Two of the last three Arabian horses of the year have now made Arapahoe Park’s summer racing season part of their championship campaigns. Tm Fred Texas in 2011 and So Big Is Better in 2013 both captured Arapahoe Park’s Crow Valley Ranch Classic. So Big Is Better, who was 9 years old racing in 2013, became the oldest horse of the year in the 27-year history of the Darley Awards, surpassing 6-year-olds Da Adios in 2004 and Thoroughbred in 2008.
“What an amazing night,” owner Mark Powell said on stage at the Dolby Theatre. “It’s like a dream come true.”
“It’s going to be hard to replace him,” trainer Scott Powell added, as So Big Is Better, who was also named top older horse for 2012, finished his career with 25 wins in 54 races with earnings of $333,065.
On her way to the Darley Award as top 4-year-old filly, Mahra T capped a breakout 2013 season at Arapahoe Park with a 13 3/4-length domination of the Soaring Eagle Ranch Distaff. Owned by the Quarter Moon Ranch and trained by Scott Powell, she came to Arapahoe Park as a maiden and won four races last season in Colorado, including a 6-furlong track-record performance in the COBRA Sprint.
Stablemate Ms Dixie, the winner of Arapahoe’s COBRA Distaff Sprint in 2013, captured the Darley for top older mare after winning 4-year-old filly honors for 2012.
“I’m ecstatic because we put a lot of work into Mahra T and Ms Dixie, and we’re excited to reap the rewards,” said Lori Long, who makes up the Quarter Moon Ranch team along with trainer Scott Powell.
In making for an even more memorable weekend, Long and Scott Powell were married before friends and family at historic Off Vine Restaurant in Los Angeles the evening before the Darley Awards.
“I’ve given up a lot and put in so much heart and soul and time,” Scott Powell said with his family behind him when he accepted the Darley Award for top trainer. “This is the granddaddy of them all.”
HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival sponsored the 2013 Darley Awards. A total of seven nominated horses—also including Sand On Fire (4-year-old filly), Ttt Tiny Tina (4-year-old filly), Dc Willeys Song (older mare), and Lil Rich Girl (older mare)—raced at Arapahoe Park in 2013.
The 2014 season at Arapahoe Park begins on May 24. For Arabians, the COBRA Distaff Sprint on June 15 for fillies and mares and the COBRA Sprint on June 22—both $20,000 stakes races over 6 furlongs—have received Grade 3 status from the Arabian Jockey Club for 2014. They join the 1 1/8-mile, $25,000 COBRA Distaff Sponsored by Soaring Eagle Ranch on August 16 and the 1 1/4-mile, $25,000 COBRA Classic Sponsored by Crow Valley on August 17 as Grade 3 stakes races expected to attract some of the best Arabians in the country. New to the Arabian schedule in 2014 will be three races that are part of the Wathba Stud Farm Cup series that takes place in nine countries around the world.