(Submitted photo by Shane Shiflet)
But that doesn't mean the World Grand Champion has to be an aged stallion.
"It's anybody's game," said Dr. Doyle Meadows, Celebration CEO, in an interview with the Times-Gazette prior to the Celebration. "You just never know."
Meadows said this year's competition has been outstanding and he's heard several comment particularly on the quality of the 4-year-olds, where 20-plus horses showed up for the preliminary round of competition Sunday night.
Folsom Prison Blues and Gameworld each won their sections in the aged stallion preliminary rounds, so there's little doubt they'll come through the gate Saturday night each with their own fan base.
Could a 4-year-old standout elect to compete for the World Grand Championship, instead of the championship for the 4-year-olds?
The entry fee for the World Grand Championship is $2,500 and anyone who enters a horse that does not end up showing will get a full refund, Meadows said. This is the second year for this policy.
Last Sunday, I'm Copperfield topped the 4-year-old class with Knox Blackburn riding for the Mike Walden family. He was followed by Walk Time Charlie and Chad Baucom for Holland/Kilgore/Callicutt, He's Shady In Black and Jimmy McConnell for Mike and Lee McGartland, A Strong Need For Cash and Michael Wright for Jim Roberts and Mr. Heisman and Tim Smith for Randall and Sadie Baskins.
Meadows said competition in the 3-year-old class was also superb, however 3-year-olds are not eligible for the World Grand Championship due to its requirement that horses canter.
No matter who shows up for Saturday night's stake, they'll have their work cut out for them. Folsom Prison Blues and Rodney Dick have had an excellent year for owner Jimmy Smith, who purchased the horse after last year's show.
"His breeding is second to none," said owner Jimmy Smith, in a previous interview with the Times-Gazette. "From birth, this horse was bred to be great ... He's a big, strong stallion. He's well-conditioned, and well-trained and he's had no injuries. All of those things combined are what makes a World Grand Champion."
Folsom Prison Blues, a 5-year-old stallion by famous World Grand Champion Out On Parole and out of A Dollar For Linda Tripp (by Generator's Silver Dollar), was undefeated as a 3- and 4-year-old and has also been undefeated this season, dominating shows throughout the South including Mississippi Charity, the Spring Fun Show and the Money Tree Classic.
Puttin' Cash On The Line and Justin Harris were second to Folsom Prison Blues and Dick last weekend.
Gameworld and Gary Edwards for Chester and Lynda Stokes, winner from last Saturday night's B section, was followed in the ribbons by third place finisher My Kinda Luck and Bill Cantrell.
Like Smith's contender, Gameworld has also been a dominant force at shows all summer long, winning all but once. This six year old captured blues at South Alabama Charity, Billie Lane King Cotton, Columbia Spring Jubilee and FAST Showcase.
The Golden Sovereign had finished second in that class, but was later disqualified after the USDA cited him for a scar rule violation. McConnell's aged stallion contender Up For Parole was also cited. Six others failed inspection prior to the class and didn't get to show.
With contenders looking toward the WGC from all different directions, 2011 could truly be the year of the dark horse.