From TRACK magazine Publisher/Editor
If you think that Valiant Lil Lady is the best filly to ever win the Texas Classic Futiruty G1, you are absolutely right.
Because in the 20-year history of this race, the Valiant Hero filly is the only filly to have her picture made after winning the race that is annually the biggest race run by any horse of any breed in Texas.
The brown filly foaled February 28, 2010, covered 400 yards :19.616 to take $432,533 from the $1 million purse from this race created so many years ago by a bunch of dreamers at the Texas Quarter Horse Association.
A $23,000 purchase in the September 2011 Heritage Place Yearling Sale from Todd Antonuk's consignment for breeders Bob & Jerry Gaston, Valiant Lil Lady now has earned $485,163 for owner Bryon Gardner.
It was the biggest win ever in the career of trainer Judd Kearl, who with 77 wins this year ranks second nationally only to Paul Jones in that category. At $1,325,761, Kearl ranks seventh in the money-earning statistics.
The Madisonville, Texas based trainer, whose training center once was occupied by Arnold Simmons and then briefly by John Bassett, is just a short distance from the New Waverly, Texas, home of Bryon and Angie Gardner.
The story of this year's Texas Classic Futurity actually begins a couple of years ago when barrel racer Angie Gardner stopped by the Kearl barn and asked Judd about a barrel filly. That led to a couple of wins on the track for the Gardners. And the rest is history.
"Bryon sent me to the Heritage Place Yearling Sale (in September 2011) and told me to pick out a bargain for $10,000 or $15,000," Kearl told TRACK.
"I ended up spending $23,000 for this one (Valiant Lil Lady). He ribbed me about is for quite a while when I told him I blew the budget. But I think he's okay with it now."