Meet ‘Sunny,’ Kentucky Derby Winner Justify’s Escort Horse

Courtesy of America’s Horse Daily

As heavily favored Justify (TB) prepares for the Preakness Stakes, his constant companion is a palomino American Quarter Horse by the name of Wimpys High Roller

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 and perhaps the only Triple Crown winner I’ll see in my lifetime; 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 winner, Justify. If you’ve had your eyes on Justify you’ve seen his escort, 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 Wednesday afternoon, 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.