Dan Urschel, 72, Canadian, Tex., passed away on September 16, 2014, after suffering a stroke on September 3. The longtime Quarter Horse race breeder and his wife, Jolene, owners of the 3 Bar D Ranch, campaigned two All American Futurity winners, including Special Effort, the only 2-year-old Triple Crown winner in Quarter racing history.
Cattleman D.F. Urschel, Dan Urschel’s grandfather, founded the 3 Bar D in the 1930s, and Urschel’s father and mother, Lester and Mary, moved from their home state of Kansas to manage the ranch in 1946, when Dan was three.
At a prominent race sale in 1965, the Urschels purchased two-time AQHA running champion Straw Flight, by Jack Straw TB, as well as the mare’s full sister, 1961 champion 3-year-old filly Fly Straw. Bred by Dan and Mary to Rocket Bar TB, Fly Straw produced Flying Rockette, winner of the 1973 Rainbow Futurity.
Flying Rockette, when bred to their 1979 All American Futurity winner Pie In The Sky, produced Fly In The Pie, who Dan and Jolene in turn bred to Special Effort and got stakes winner Strawfly Special, a leading sire of two All American Futurity winners, Streakin Flyer and Ausual Suspect, as well as world champion Tailor Fit.
In 1981, the Urschels paid $1 million for a 2-year-old Raise Your Glass TB colt named Special Effort, who had just qualified for the Kansas Futurity. At the time, it was the highest price ever paid for a Quarter Horse in training. In less than three months, immediately after he qualified for the All American Futurity, Special Effort was syndicated for $15 million. Upon retirement at three, Special Effort became one of Quarter racing’s leading sires and maternal grandsires.
In 1983, the Urschels held a dispersal sale at the 3 Bar D Ranch that included Flying Rockette, as well as a stellar roster of champion mares bred to either Special Effort or Pie In The Sky. The sale grossed $4.2 million.
Earlier this year, the Urschels acquired champion sire Desirio, a son of Strawfly Special, and just days before Dan was felled by his stroke, they were among the leading buyers at the Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale, purchasing four 2015 race prospects for a total of $480,000.
Funeral arrangements are pending.