Event: Steel Valley Raven Named Winner in Starting Field of 40
Result: Fifty-Eighth National Shooting Dog Futurity
Location: Bloomingdale, Ohio
Post Date: Oct 8, 2021
Submitted By: Mike Husenits
The National Shooting Dog Futurity was held September 27-28 over the broad expansive grounds known as the Mingo Sportsman's Club near Bloomingdale, Ohio.
Weather conditions were tolerable in the mornings with dew on the grass but high humidity, sunshine and warming temperatures tested the stamina of both dogs and horses by mid-afternoon.
This Futurity was conceived and founded in 1962 by a sage group of field trial and bird dog enthusiasts numbering at least twenty committee members. The founding fathers were hallowed pillars of the sport and included such notables as Frank Ash, Harrison Biggi, Lebbeus Bissell, Dr. Tom Flanagan, Tony Imbesi, Chet Ketner, Ed McKean, Dr. Alvin Nitchman, Dr. John H. Powers, Mike Seminatore, Richard Shear, Les Tichenor, Harry Townshend, Jay Waggoner, Robert G. Wehle, W. Lee White and several others.
This group worked harmoniously to establish standards and running rules for the stake that have remained largely unchanged over the 58 years span. In later years, other stalwarts joined and helped carry-on the established traditions, namely Ed Emerson, Verle Farrow, Doug Harris, Ed Sten, Keith Severin, Peter Flanagan, David Grubb, Roger W. Martens, Carl Beattie, Mary Ann (Dyer) Schreck and others.
The initial running of the Futurity took place in early October, 1964 at the famed Three Rivers Game Management area near Baldwinsville, N.Y., where it remained for the next 53 years, run in conjunction with the National Pheasant Shooting Dog Championship.
About five years ago a disastrous situation occurred due to the New York State Wildlife Management department's loss of interest in the field trial sport. Their actions forced the Futurity management team to seek a more suitable venue.
The Mingo Sportsman's Club, led by Bill Monk, stepped forward and offered the Futurity and Pheasant Championship use of their holdings near Steubenville, Ohio and as it has transpired for the last four years. The venue is ideal. The grounds include nearly 4,000 acres, a clubhouse with dining and shower facilities, camping area with electric hook ups and a pavilion near the starting line where daily breakfast and lunches are prepared and served by club members.
The Shooting Dog Futurities have endured through 58 years mostly due to management dedication and stability. The first secretary-treasurer was David H. Miller who served two years followed by Verle Farrow, who held office for 16 years, then Keith Severin for 22 years followed by Mike Husenits for 17 years, now passing the baton to Mark Hughes for the past two years.
Futurities are recognized as breeders' stakes with a share of the prize money and glory going to the dedicated breeders who carefully plan and raise the prospective litters. Those who bred the most winners of this Futurity are the late Elwin and Inez Smith with a total of 17, followed by Calico Kennels with 12 and Grouse Ridge Kennels and Robert G. Wehle (Elhew Kennels) with 5 each.
The most successful handlers include George Tracy with 32 Futurity placements, Harold Ray with 25, Mike Tracy with 23 and Luke Eisenhart with 15.
Futurity judges with the most service include Rich Tuttle and Larry Moon with engagements each; Harold Crane, Paul Treadaway and Richie Papa with four each followed by Peter Flanagan and Mike Husenits with three each. Mike also served as secretary and reporter for some 18 years.
This year's running was organized and managed by most capable individuals. Newly elected secretary Mark Hughes handled the pre-trial necessities including the nomination and entry processing, obtainment of judges, drawing and advertising.
President Bob Reed was on hand and helped every way possible. Vice President Chris Catanzarite was ever present and handled bird release plus assisted any handler in need.
Mingo club member Mike Scott released birds on Monday. Director Dave Hughes contributed and filled water tubs on the courses plus drove the dog truck, which is a challenging job considering the continuous course arrangement utilized. Assistance from Ted Foust was a tremendous help with the dog truck.
Purina, as it has for season upon season, was again a generous supporter of the stake, for which all are deeply appreciative.
The annual painting presentation of the previous year's winner was made following a wonderful ham dinner at the clubhouse Monday evening. Jack and Fran Miller, owner, breeder, handler of pointer female Miller's Strolling For Gold, accepted the expertly painted portrait done by artist Mary McPherson of Evergreen, Ala.
Judges were two seasoned veterans that gave their utmost attention to each and every contestant. Pete Flanagan of Norwich, N.Y., teamed with Jim Winnen of Erie, Pa. This was Pete's third time to judge this Futurity. He has also owned and competed with the famed Grouse Ridge Kennels Setters over a long span of years and knows what to look for in Derby potential. Jim Winnen has competed with his own dogs, both in the continental breeds and lately with his pointers, and has judged many important field trials.
Steel Valley Raven, orange marked pointer female owned by Harry Blaine of Traverse City, Mich., handled and bred by Jeanette Tracy, is from a repeat breeding of multiple champion Waybetter Rocky to champion Steel Valley Karen, the litter whelped July 30, 2020, making Raven barely fourteen months of age.
A look at her pedigree reveals champions close up, namely Elhew Sinbad, Erin's Southern Justice, Van Mac, Belfield Silver, Tiger Woods and several others of note.
Raven demonstrated phenomenal potential for such a youngster, filling the country with wide forward swings with a highly animated way of going. Her bird work proved to be masterful and belied her young age. She pointed pheasants twice with rock solid intensity, pinpoint location and demonstrated more than acceptable fall derby manners at flush and shot. Raven appeared in the next to last brace on Tuesday under quite warm conditions and finished her stint going away at top speed.
Second placed Wiggins Pree Dawn Reward, liver marked pointer female owned and bred by Katie Lyons of Sebastian, Fla., and handled by Doug Ray, was whelped April 25, 2020 from a litter sired by Wiggins War Trace, her dam, Wiggins Elhew C.
War Trace is a runner-up champion strong in Elhew Sinbad and National Ch. Whippoorwill Wild Agin. Elhew C traces to Elhew Damascus and Ch. White's Solid Reward.
Pree Dawn Reward appeared in the third brace Monday morning, away at 9:28 a.m. This classy moving female scored a pair of pheasant finds that she pointed with high head and tail and stood steadfast during flush, proving to be as close to polished as one could expect for a fall Derby, appearing to have a brilliant future ahead.
Third was I'm Spartacus, lightly marked pointer male owned by Jett Ferebee of Greenville, N. C., and Harold Ray of Waynesboro, Ga., bred by Jack and Fran Miller of Barwick, Ga., and handled by Doug Ray. In recent years, Jack and Fran Miller's line of pointers have proven to be worthy contenders, all of the offspring from their line are stylish, biddable and seem to take to training easily.
Spartacus ran a well-directed forward ground race, carrying himself with high head and cracking tail. His rapport with handler was evident throughout his stint. His bird contacts on pheasants consisted of a mannerly stop to flush followed by an impressive find where Spartacus stood statuesquely and demonstrated exemplary manners at flush and shot.
Calico's Sky's The Limit, black marked pointer female co-owned by Allen Linder of Livingston, Tenn., and Bill and Muriel Primm of Cream Ridge, N.J., placed fourth. Bred by Calico Kennels, her sire is the superior producer, Dominator's Rebel Heir, her dam the winning female Calico's Country Strong, whelped January 2, 2020.
George Tracy handled her to a bold onslaught described by the judges as the most powerful ground race of the stake. Though not quite as animated as the other winners, she demonstrated independence and ranged to distant objectives. She had early contacts with pheasants that were not clearly defined but showed her wares with a cleanly handled stylish find near time.
The judges noted that of the 42 starters there were probably 22 that showed potential, making for hard decisions on their part. Birds were literally everywhere by the second day and did not always co-operate with oncoming dogs and horses. With birds in the air and young dogs on the ground many merry chases ensued, at times to many. At other times the dogs would point but failed to hold long enough for handlers to get in front to flush.
Those that were carried or discussed in order of appearance included: pointer male Two Spot Tommy (Doug Ray) from the first brace with three stylish finds, two of them handled with steady manners combined with a medium range ground race.
From the second brace came pointer female Miller's Flowers And Lace (Fran Miller) with a mid-range effort and five pheasant contacts, one requiring a well done relocation, Lace showed plenty of style moving and on point.
Miller's Automatic Upgrade (Fran Miller) performed admirably in the sixth brace with three stylish finds and an unproductive.
Double Deuce Miles (Mark Hughes) showed his wares in the tenth brace with a medium range ground effort and no less than three finds and an unproductive, Miles steady to flush and shot on one find.
Miller's Special Upgrade (Mark Hughes) appeared in the 13th brace and looked good with a back, a stop to flush, and two other contacts with Derby manners combined with a stylish mid range race.
Midge's Miracle (Doug Ray) appeared in the last brace with a well-directed ground effort, a find requiring relocation and a strong finish.
Others that demonstrated potential that may have fared better on another day included B K Lapaloma Blanca, Walden Ridge Rain Storm, Waybetter Rebel, Wildland Sweet Caroline, Double Deuce Jack, Mohawk Mill Gotta Go, Prairie Land Bud and Miller's Special Cinderella.
Bloomingdale, Ohio, September 27
Judges: Peter Flanagan and Jim Winnen
NATIONAL SHOOTING DOG FUTURITY -- 38 Pointers and 2 Setters
1st--STEEL VALLEY RAVEN, 1696173, female, by Waybetter Rocky--Steel City Karen. Harry Blaine, owner; Jeanette Tracy, handler.
2d--WIGGINS PREE DAWN REWARD, 1690453, female, by Wiggins War Trace--Wiggins Elhew C. Katie Lyons, owner; Doug Ray, handler.
3d--I'M SPARTACUS, 1695668, pointer male, by Miller's Upgraded Version--Miller's Special Edition. Harold Ray & Jett Ferebee, owners; Doug Ray, handler.
4th--CALICO'S SKY'S THE LIMIT, 1692352, female, by Dominator's Rebel Heir--Calico's Country Strong. Allen Linder & Muriel & William Primm, owners; George Tracy, handler.