The connections of millionaire stakes star Churita have reported that their beloved trotting mare passed away on March 15 at the age of 11.
Trained by Matt Rheinheimer before retiring from racing in 2020 to become a broodmare, Churita earned 45 wins and 40 other top-three finishes from 114 starts while amassing $1,038,975 in purses for owner Jackie Porter of Taylor, Michigan.
Driven primarily by Trace Tetrick, the Airzoom Lindy-Stonebridge Volare mare dominated the Indiana Sire Stakes early in her career, taking the 2014 Super Final as a freshman amid a 16-race win streak that extended over her two and three-year-old seasons. Churita's sophomore stakes victories included back-to-back divisional track record performances at Hoosier Park, ultimately lowering the standard to 1:53.4. She finished second in the Super Final that year to longtime rival and future Hall of Famer Hannelore Hanover.
Their rivalry continued as older mares, with Churita later avenging that loss and defeating Hannelore Hanover in the 2017 and 2019 editions of the Indiana Sire Stakes Aged Mares Trot. Churita faced Grand Circuit competition and was a top performer in the Invitationals and Opens racing in Ohio and Indiana, where she took a mark of 1:51.4 over Hoosier Park.
After winning her final race on Jan. 28, 2020 at Miami Valley Raceway, Churita was retired from racing and became a mom to a yearling Swan For All colt named Ritas Revenge.
Purchased for just $3,700 at the 2013 Hoosier Classic Yearling Sale as a fair racing prospect, Churita developed into a horse of a lifetime, leaving her connections in awe of the talent she possessed.
"I could go on all day about her accomplishments and what she meant to me personally, but the biggest thing about her is she loved being on the track and racing, and also having the talent to accomplish what she did, a lot of horses have talent but not the desire like she had," owner Jackie Porter told Trot Insider. "And one other thing I really am in awe of is that, in 114 lifetime starts, she only went offstride once and that was in the third start of her career."
Porter is quick to give credit where credit is due for Churita's success, noting that, "Matt Rheinheimer's training and the care that he provided made everything go the way it did.
"As for me personally, the experience of having a horse like her is and will always be amazing. I will probably never have another horse that will be competitive on the level she raced and I am just humbled by the experience."
Churita passed away at Purdue University Equine Hospital in Lafayette, Indiana due to complications from an injury sustained in a paddock accident. Sadly, the connections also lost her premature foal 10 days prior.
Please join Standardbred Canada in offering condolences to the connections of Churita.