By Tanya Randall (reprinted with permission from BARREL RACING REPORT, issue: January 3, 2023)
Photos courtesy Ashley Hunt
Jamey Hunt had an exceptional weekend at the Rob & Teresa Stopanio Memorial Barrel Race, December 28-January 1 in Ocala, Florida. The McAlpin, Florida, trainer and farrier topped the Legends of the South Open Slot race aboard Gripe Gut to win $80,000.
“It’s amazing to have an event this far east with that kind of payout,” said Jamey. “I never would have thought to take an open horse to a barrel race and win $80,000. For years that was unheard of. It’s getting to where you can have an open horse and win a lot.”
“Juice,” a 9-year-old sorrel solid gelding by Jungle Jet and out of Redneck Gal, is owned by Jamey and his wife, Ashley. The couple paid his sire into the program because of the lucrative payouts close to home.
“It’s crazy not to have him in it because there’s so much stuff to go to here,” Jamey said. “He’s definitely won enough to pay to have him in it.”
The Legends of the South Slot Race drew 123 entries, and Jamey and Juice posted their 14.387 early in the draw.
“Honestly, when I ran him, he got a little straight going to the first barrel and he took a little half-step by the first,” Jamey recalled of the run. “He came back really straight and was running really hard. I think he made up most of the time when he smoked the second barrel. When you watch the video, he left the second barrel in two strides as fast as I’ve ever seen a horse leave. He had a really good third barrel. Sometimes running up into a hole, he’ll pick up his ears and quit running a bit, but for some reason he ran all the way to the back gate. I think the way he left that second barrel and running all the way through the clock is what helped him.”
Jamey figures that Juice has won about $250,000 now. Most of that has come from open races.
“We’ve had him since he was a late 2-year-old,” said Jamey of the solid Paint gelding. “Another guy had bought him off the track, and I actually traded $1,200 worth of shoeing for him. He was cripple and I took a chance on him.”
Although he liked the way the gelding moved in the roundpen, Jamey wasn’t too fond of the gelding once he started riding him, so Ashley claimed him.
“He was so funny about his face and quirky and goofy,” said Jamey. “She took him over and started riding him really slow. She got him going pretty good. I climbed back on him one day and he was excellent, so I started riding him again. From then on, he’s always been her horse.”
Juice ran a little his futurity year, but Jamey says he was immature. The gelding has really come into his own as an older horse.
“The last couple of years, he’s really come on and made a heck of a horse,” Jamey said.
The weekend prior to Ocala, Ashley had done well on the gelding at Christmas in Dixie Barrel Race in Jackson, Mississippi. She’ll get to ride the gelding the rest of the year with the exception of the BBR World Finals, where Jamey will run him in the 1D Shootout they qualified for last year.
“The plan has always been to make him a solid horse for her to ride,” Jamey said. “He’s finally to that point. He’s always going to be right there at the top, if I don’t do anything too silly. He’s the most solid horse we’ve ever had. He’s honest, honest. He gives 110 percent every time he runs.”
Jamey, who was one of the leading futurity riders in the late 1990s through early 2000s, spent more time shoeing horses than going down the road until the past few years.
“I’m getting where I’m cutting back on my shoeing, because I’m back to full time training,” Jamey said. “We’ve picked up some really nice colts for this year and have a really good group going for next year. I’m keeping a few of the shoeing clients, but I’m really trying to get that narrowed down.”
It was focusing on training his own that built back his client base for outside horses.
“About five years ago, I told Ashley I’m going to shoe as many horses as I can and put that money into making our own horses,” he said. “In the midst of that, we got Juice and had some other horses that we made and made some money on. Those horses allowed us to pick up on the right kind of customers. I only have a few customers that I really trust.”
[Reprinting all or part of this news release is permitted, so long as credit is given to the Paint Horse Journal and a link provided back to apha.com.]
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