BLACKFOOT — Dennie Hill of Blackfoot didn't expect Tisa Dream Runne to win the Merial Distaff Regional Final horse race at the Eastern Idaho State Fair on Saturday.
"It was really a nice field of mares," said Hill, who shares ownership with his wife Kris. "You couldn't tell who would win the race. I had another mare in it that I thought had a better chance."
"I was pretty damn tickled," Hill said of the horse's win in the $24,500 race. With the win she qualified for the Challenge of Champions in New Orleans, La., in late November.
The regional races are conducted at different sites around the region each year. It was the Eastern Idaho State Fair's turn this time around.
Trina Fackrell, the fair's racing superintendent, also was thrilled.
"We've been working toward higher quality payoffs and horses to run at our fair," Fackrell said. "We've been working with the board and got the track resurfaced and the turnout was excellent with the move to Sunday-Monday, Friday-Saturday racing.
"People are taking notice (of the improvements)," Fackrell added.
Horses came from Washington, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota and Idaho.
"It's great to see our local horsemen, owners and trainers, do well," Fackrell said.
Hill said Tisa Dream Runne will spend the next few weeks in St. George, Utah, with trainer Bret Vickery. She "will probably race at Los Alamitos (California) one time before we take her to New Orleans."
Vickery, whose wife Stacy is from Bingham County, qualified five for the Challenge of Champions.
Vickery had one more horse that qualified for the Challenge of Champions this year but he sold the sixth qualifier, the racing supervisor said.
Hill is a cattle rancher who moved to the area in the early 1970s. He said he started running horses in the 1980s. He has owned Tisa Dream Runne for three years. She won the St. George Futurity two years ago. She placed second in the qualifier for the regional race last week.