I love these stories of unsung horse heroes! Click here to go to the original story.
Three years ago, I was admittedly obsessed with a precious-yet-sassy buckskin best known for escorting his stablemate, American Pharoah (TB). American Pharoah – yes, you may have heard of him. He won this little thing called the Triple Crown, then cruised to a win in the Breeder’s Cup Classic, clinching Thoroughbred racing’s Grand Slam. But I digress.
American Pharoah is incredible, however, where my heart lies is with “Smokey.” AP’s former escort horse and American Quarter Horse BFF is owned by trainer Bob Baffert. Registered as This Whiz Shines, Smokey got his start in the reining pen before transitioning over to ponying Thoroughbreds.
Three years later, Bob Baffert has saddled another Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes and ultimately Triple Crown winner, Justify. If you had your eyes on Justify as he prepared to take on the Triple Crown, you saw his pony horse, Wimpys High Roller, also known as “Sunny.”
Like Smokey, Sunny is owned by trainer Bob Baffert, and Sunny also sports some fancy reining bloodlines. The 2009 palomino gelding is by NRHA $10 million sire Wimpys Little Step and out of Shining High Roller by NRHA $4 million sire Shining Spark. Sunny was bred by Greg Hill of Huron, Ohio, and eventually made his way into Bob’s ownership in July 2013.
Just like American Pharoah and Smokey were constant companions, so are Justify and Sunny. When Justify arrived at Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport for May 19’s Preakness Stakes, first off the plane was Sunny.
Since Smokey-as-an-escort became a familiar sight for the casual racing fan, thanks to American Pharoah, some tweeters misidentified poor Sunny. It’s not easy living life in the public eye, especially when you’re mistaken for your stablemate.
It’s OK, Sunny, you’re fast becoming one of my favorites.
It was from Twombly Performance Horses that Bob purchased both Sunny and Smokey. John Twombly has been in touch with the Thoroughbred trainer, and reports that while we’ve seen a lot of Sunny ponying Justify during his workouts.
Bob Baffert lopes Wimpys High Roller, or “Sunny,” in 2015. In the May 2015 issue of America’s Horse magazine, “Where the Journey Began” shared Bob’s path to Thoroughbred racing success. Bob grew up on a ranch in Arizona and got his start in Quarter Horse racing, where he saw much success as a trainer and as a jockey. (Credit: Zoe Metz Photography)
Click here to see the rest of these awesome photos and videos of this pair!!