1942 Quarter Horse Championship

On a chilly midweek afternoon in February 1942, 1,500 horseracing fans made their way out of town, to the Moltacqua Turf Club on Sabino Canyon Road. There, they found a half-mile track, wooden benches which served as a grandstand, and some pari-mutual wagering.

These racing fans had come to see seven contests, highlighted by what was billed as "The World's Championship Quarterhorse Race."

Four horses were entered to compete for a purse of $1,000. Previous champion Clabber was joined by Nobody's Friend and a bay stallion named Joe Thom. A 5-year old mare from New Mexico called Shue Fly rounded out the field.

Shue Fly had started her racing career in 1940 when she came in second in a half-mile race. Dropping down to a quarter-mile for her next contest, she won, beating Clabber in the process.

A few days before the championship finals, Shue Fly had established a new Moltacqua track record of 22.4 seconds for the 440-yard distance. Despite falling behind Clabber at the start, she overcame his lead, opened up a two-length advantage and held on for a narrow victory.

The two horses would meet again in the championship race, and it was written later of them and their racing partners: "These four were easily the greatest sprinters of that season."

Before the championship race, the chestnut-colored Shue Fly was the betting favorite. A bad stumble at the start, however, seemingly doomed her chances.

"Shue Fly slipped to her knees and injured a front ankle as the starting gate opened," reported the Tucson Daily Citizen. As the other horses dashed off, Shue Fly regained her balance, but faced a seemingly insurmountable deficit.

Undeterred, jockey Hank Lasswell spurred his mount on. Shue Fly responded, sprinting after her opponents. She caught and passed them, just beating Nobody's Friend in a winning time of 23 seconds.

Shue Fly would go on to repeat as champion in 1943 and 1944, and finished her career having won 10 of 12 races.

After producing three notable foals, Shue Fly died in 1963. She was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Association Hall of Fame in 2005.

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