French Bar Belle made her mark as a producer at the 2024 Royal Crown event in Buckeye, Arizona, with two horses out of the mare winning championships in the futurity and derby — Tricia Aldridge’s Adios Pantalones and Jordynn Knight’s Dashing French Belle, respectively.

The popular Royal Crown incentive program brought $1,267,123 in total payout for ropers and barrel racers alike to the newly renovated Buckeye Equestrian Center in Buckeye, Arizona, from February 7–18.

French Bar Belle was the talk of the town among barrel racers. The Frenchmans Guy daughter produced both the Royal Crown Futurity and Derby champions — Tricia Aldridge’s Tres Seis stallion Adios Pantalones in the Futurity, and Jordynn Knight’s Dash Ta Fame mare Dashing French Belle in the Derby.

The mare is the homebred pride of Leslie and her late husband Jerry Bailey, longtime horse breeders in both the Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse industries.

“We roped on her mother, and she was so amazing, outstanding and athletic that we wanted to do something a little different rather than the Thoroughbred business. We decided to get into the barrel horse deal and have some futurity horses, so we bred her to Frenchmans Guy to get a barrel futurity horse,” Leslie explained. “We got ‘Emmy,’ and we also have her full sister Blue Bourbon Belle that’s a few years younger.”

Emmy overcame some hardship early in life before an OCD in her stifle prevented her from a career in the arena.

“We were at Royal Vista Southwest, which is my brother-in-law Dr. Jim Bailey’s place, and one of my Thoroughbreds lost her foal. I was so bummed out, and then the recip mare had Emmy, and she was a dummy foal. I worked with her for two days, and people say it’s amazing and have never seen it happen, but I got her sucking and to be normal,” Leslie said. “We raised her and I broke her to ride, and though we eventually had to quit riding her, she was so quick-footed. I see a lot of her whole family [in the offspring], the grandmother, everything. Just the willingness, athleticism, and they’re so quick and fast to learn.”

Emmy has since produced close to $350,000 in EquiStat earners, without Royal Crown money yet included, all by a diverse array of sires. She had three qualifiers to The American Semifinals in the same year in addition to aged-event, Open and rodeo champions.

The Dash Ta Fame and Tres Seis crosses have especially performed well. Dashing French Belle joins winning siblings by Dash Ta Fame such as Monica McClung’s Cabernet Cowboy and Fearless Fame. Adios Pantalones also has two 4-year-old full siblings by Tres Seis competing and doing well this year — Six Blue Wagon, the European Juvenile champion with Federico Tanzi, and Untresabell, a Barrel Futurities of America World Championship Juvenile finalist with Ty Marks.

Leslie says seeing Emmy’s legacy through her offspring is the reward that horse breeders work hard for day in and day out.

“It’s outstanding and amazing, and it’s what we’ve been striving for. It’s our goal,” Leslie explained. “She’s an outstanding individual herself. When you breed an individual that looks like her, to stallions that look like what they look like, you usually get an athlete. She’s had good foal after good foal after good foal. It’s proven in every breed that the mare has a lot to do with it. If you breed good to good, then you get good — hopefully. It’s taken awhile, but she’s like fine wine.”

Futurity Champion Tricia Aldridge and Adios Pantalones

Adios Pantalones won his second futurity championship of the year with his owner, trainer and jockey Tricia Aldridge on board, topping both the Royal Crown Futurity for incentive-eligible horses and the South Valley Equine Open Futurity for any futurity-age horses. The 4-year-old stallion added a total of more than $44,000 in Buckeye to his already impressive $176,704 in earnings at press time so far in his young career.

Tricia Aldridge and her 4-year-old stallion Adios Pantalones won both the Royal Crown and South Valley Equine Open Futurities to bank a total $44,000 in Buckeye. Their two standard-pattern times of 17.117 and 16.960 won the first go-round and finished second in the second round, respectively. Photo by Lexi Smith Media

“He’s a unicorn, he really is — I always joke that his horn fell off somewhere. I call him my Barbie Dream Horse,” Aldridge said of the blazed-face golden palomino. “I don’t even do any training on him anymore, because at this point all I can do is screw it up. It was so exciting, because that was the first time he’s been on a standard pattern.”

However, the trip to Buckeye started with some anxiety for Aldridge. Before the first round, Adios bumped his leg on a pipe fence playing with a gelding, and it swelled up huge. Aldridge sent videos to her vet, Dr. Don Lee, DVM, who assured her the young stallion was fine. Adios concurred by taking the lead in the first go and never giving it back, winning the round with a 17.117 for $7,020 (including stallion and breeder payout) in Royal Crown money as well as $2,080 in the South Valley Equine Open Futurity.

“He was 100% and super sound on it, but I think I was more hesitant in the first round on the mental side of it for me, just him not being on a standard before and bumping his leg. I was really proud he took the lead that early,” Aldridge said. “I had to leg-lift to get around the first barrel; I try my hardest not to let him down because he’s always going to go work.”

Adios turned up the heat in the second go with a 16.960 to finish second for $5,849 in the Royal Crown and win the SVE Open Futurity second go for another $2,058.

“By the second round, he had it figured out, knew how the ground would hold him and where he is and goes in there and does his job. He never gets excited before a run; he’s relaxed, just walks around. He’s like, ‘Here, hold my beer, I’ll be right back,’” Aldridge said with a laugh. “One horse before me, I’ll spin him around so he knows not to be lazy now, and then he’ll go in there, lay one down, and walk like a turtle back to the stall.”

Their average of 34.077 won both the Royal Crown Futurity for $11,700 (total pay rider, stallion and breeder) and the SVE Open Futurity for $3,406. The two futurity titles complement the 4-year-old stallion’s winning resume in only three months of competition of Barrel Futurities of America SuperStakes reserve champion, Jingle Bell Classic Futurity champion and Lone Star Shootout reserve champion. He also placed in the top five in the BFA Juvenile, OKC Rookie and Golden Buckle futurities.

Sherry Cervi rode homegrown 2019 mare MP Meter My Fame (Dash Ta Fame x MP Meter My Hay x PC Frenchmans Hayday), owned and bred by herself and her father Mel Potter, to the Royal Crown Futurity reserve championship for $8,223. The pair had a 17.303 in the first go for fifth and $2,660 and won the second round in 16.898 for $5,805. Including carryovers and stallion and breeder payout, the mare added $24,824 to her lifetime earnings. Photo by Lexi Smith Media

Adios’ talent is undeniable, but Aldridge says it’s his confident personality that helps him win.

“He has a large fan base, mostly because of his outgoing personality. I think that is what makes him great — I can see as a trainer if I were to try and suppress that, he would get frustrated,” Aldridge explained. “He’s super smart, always thinking, so I’ve had to think outside the box and really read him. If I have to get a point across, it’s easy — I just tell him what I want, because he’s aware of where he is all the time. I do a lot of riding outside so he doesn’t get bored around the barrels. He has a super high play drive, so him being so playful and being able to express it allows him to be confident in himself and sure of his job. As long as I can keep that horse feeling 100% physically, he’s going to keep doing the same thing.”

The Sanger, Texas, horse trainer’s goal is for Adios to hit $300,000 in earnings this year and become the highest-money earning futurity stallion. She also encourages Adios admirers to come meet him at the shows where he runs.

Aldridge thanked her team Dr. Don Lee, DVM, of Double X Equine, Cutter Holloway Horseshoeing, Kim Gillespie Chiropractic, Robbie Phillips Saddlery, 3S Custom Equine, Ranch Dress’n, Tacktical Equine, VanHorn Leather, Cowboy Couture, Betty Buckstitch, Elite Equine Therapy, and Rodney Yost Horsemanship.

She also added a special thanks to Adios’ breeders, Jerry and Leslie Bailey, as well as his dam French Bar Belle.

“I would bet on the mares 100% of the time. I had seen another horse out of that mare that I watched get trained here at the local arenas, and that colt died before he ever got to compete. I was having good luck with the Tres Seis, so I thought surely this would be a good cross. Just the ones I’ve seen out of her, and she didn’t have as big of a produce list when I bought him, so that’s how much I think of that mare,” Aldridge said. “The Baileys are super good people. Leslie’s late husband passed after COVID, so I always hope we’re making Jerry proud.”

Derby Champion Jordynn Knight and Dashing French Belle

Jordynn Knight and Dashing French Belle bested the Derby fields of both the Royal Crown and South Valley Equine Open Derbies. The 17-year-old jockey and her 6-year-old mare racked up a total $29,173 from the event.

“I was shocked. After my second run, I was eighth out and it was in reverse order, so they had one more drag left after my rake. The announcer said I was leading the average, and I didn’t think I had a chance,” Knight said. “There was one more horse that could do it in the first drag, but I was so glad when I found out I had won it, because I just wasn’t expecting it.”

Jordynn Knight and Dashing French Belle won the Royal Crown Derby average for $8,132 and the SVE Open Derby for $3,244. The pair had a 17.224 in the first go and won the second round of both derbies with a 16.910. Including stallion and breeder pay as well as Open and Youth carryovers, Knight and the mare added $29,173 to their earnings column. Photo by Lexi Smith Media

While Knight never doubted her talented mare’s abilities, the duo’s 17.224 from the first round was too long to earn any go-round money. Their impressive 16.910 on a standard pattern in the second go made up for it though, winning the second round of both derbies, worth $4,879 in Royal Crown money and $1,960 in the SVE Open Derby, and sealing the two championship titles. The Royal Crown Derby win paid $8,132 and the SVE Open Derby paid $3,244.

“My first run, everything was tight and smooth, she just didn’t run super hard. I didn’t have any complaints about it though,” Knight said. “My second run, Taylor [Hildreth] told me to wake her up a little out in the warm-up pen, so I did that, and she came in running really hard and worked amazing.”

Dashing French Belle is another successful graduate of futurity trainer Taylor Hildreth’s program. The mare won close to $75,000 her futurity year with Hildreth in 2022 for former owner Beth Laine. She continued to win under Hildreth into her first derby year in 2023 before selling to the Knight family over the summer.

The mare’s EquiStat earnings now top $125,000 before any Royal Crown dollars have been tabulated.

Knight says Hildreth’s knowledge and willingness to help has been a big factor in getting to the winner’s circle with her new mare.

“Taylor makes them really easy to ride behind. She’s been pretty easy. We’ve been kind of inconsistent, but we’ve always made good runs here and there, and we’re getting it figured out. We always say it takes a year to get with [a new horse],” Knight explained. “This mare is really honest. You just have to stay two-handed into the hole. I started pulling with my outside rein going to third, so it made her get short, so I had to really work on that and Taylor helped me through that.”

Knight has goals of training and futuritying the colts her family breeds and raises at their Roosevelt, Utah, home as well as getting her feet wet at some pro rodeos. She’s got a promising team of horses lined up for the rodeos — her other derby horse, 2016 gelding Heza Swift Spyder (The Goodbye Lane x Coops Glory x BF Heza Hot Shot), placed in the first go of the Royal Crown Derby with a 17.086 and hit a barrel to run a 17.118 in the second go.

Knight thanks her family and supporters.

“I’m sponsored by EquiBoss Performance; it keeps their guts healthy. I’d like to thank Taylor Hildreth, Stacy Glause, my parents Brad and Karly Knight, and my sister Kaecee Knight,” she said.

French Bar Belle made her mark as a producer at the 2024 Royal Crown event, with two horses out of the mare winning championships.
Brandon Cullins and 2017 mare MJ Segers Fast Lane (The Goodbye Lane x SKS Running Faucet x Diamond Faucet) won the first go of the Royal Crown Derby and SVE Open Derby with a 16.997, worth $4,879 and $1,960, respectively. The time also placed seventh in the slot race for $807. Photo by Lexi Smith Media
French Bar Belle made her mark as a producer at the 2024 Royal Crown event, with two horses out of the mare winning championships.
Jennier Kalafatic topped Friday’s Open on 2015 gelding Rockin The Guns (PG Dry Fire x Baby Likes To Rocket x Whatta Band) with a 16.908, worth $3,278, plus $2,666 in the Royal Crown side-pot. Their time finished second in the slot race for $3,228. Photo by Lexi Smith Media
French Bar Belle made her mark as a producer at the 2024 Royal Crown event, with two horses out of the mare winning championships.

This article was originally published in the April 2024 issue of Barrel Horse News.

Author

Blanche Schaefer is an avid barrel racer and managing editor of Barrel Horse News. Email comments or questions to [email protected]

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