Racing

Dan Urschel, 1942 – 2014

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Dan Urschel and Pie In The Sky in 1984. Sally Harrison photo

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.

2014 Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Betchacantcatchme at $235,000

The 2014 Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale, held in three evening sessions preceding the running of the $1.9 million All American Futurity on Labor Day, September 1, saw an increase of 8% in average price over 2013.

From a catalog of 461 yearlings, 347 sales were completed for a total of $15,555,400, with an average price of $44,828, compared to $41,480 in 2013.

Thirty-nine yearlings sold for $100,000 or more, including sale topper Rip Tide, who brought $300,000 from Reliance Ranches, Llano, Tex. Consigned by Lazy E Ranches LLC, agent, the Corona Cartel-sired colt is out of stakes winner Little Surfer, by First Down Dash, a full sister to 2006 AQHA world champion Wave Carver, as well as two-times champion Ocean Runaway.

Lazy E Ranches, agent, was the sale’s leading consignor with 25 head that brought a total of $1,569,000 and an average of $62,760. Reliance Ranches LLC was the leading buyer with 14 purchases totaling $1,764,000.

Corona Cartel, the number one leading living sire of Quarter Horse money earners, was also the sale’s leading sire by average. His 25 yearlings sold for an average of $84,240.

The second and fourth highest sellers, Jess A Sweetie, at $260,000, and Devilwitha Bluedress, at $230,000, were purchased by AQHA president Johnny Trotter, Hereford, Tex.
Jess A Sweetie, by Apollitical Jess, is a half-sister to 3 stakes winners, including 2012 All American Futurity winner and world champion One Dashing Eagle, and was consigned by Allred Bros. Ranch LLC.
Devilwitha Bluedress, consigned by agent Belle Mere Farm, is a daughter of Corona Cartel and a full sister to 2007 world champion Blues Girl Too.

Dan and Jolene Urschel, Canadian, Tex., paid $235,000 for the third-highest seller, Betchacatcatchme, consigned by Dreams Come True Ranch, Nacogdoches, Tex. Sired by Tempting Dash, the sorrel colt is out of a half-sister to three-time AQHA champion Catchmeinyourdreams.

JM Miracle shines in All American Futurity

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

JM Miracle. Photo by Guy Harris.

“Bid, dueled, prevailed, vanned.” Those were the comments on official charts for JM Miracle, owned by Javier and Elsa Marquez’s J & M Farms, Monahans, Tex., following his win in the $2.6 million G1 All American Futurity, on Monday, September 1, at Ruidoso Downs. His time for the 440 yard dash was 21.380; the track record for the distance is 20.736, set by Strawkins in 2006.

“He warmed up pretty good, but he was a little excited in the gate,” said three-time All American Futurity winning rider Ramon Sanchez, who picked up the mount on JM Miracle when regular G.R. Carter Jr., who qualified four finalist, opted to ride Tempting Destiny. “He didn’t break in front, but he went to running. I switched (sticks) and we got the lead about midway. After that, he finish strong.”

Sent off at odds of 7 to 1, JM Miracle crossed the finish line by half-a-length and gaining. Mad About The Moon, a $5,000 Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale graduate sired by First Moonflash and owned by David Valdez, Odessa, Tex., was second by a neck over Sam Crow, sired by Valiant Hero and owned by Terry Baber, Burkburnett, Tex.

“He’s tired; he’s exhausted,” said winning trainer Umberto Belloc, after JM Miracle was cooled with water following his win and given a ride to the barn in a van, as a precautionary measure.

A $40,000 Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale purchase, JM Miracle was one of only two horses to qualify for the G1 $700,000 Ruidoso Futurity, the G1 $900,000 Rainbow Futurity, where he finished second, and the All American Futurity. Bodacious Eagle, who finished fifth in the All American, was the only other horse to qualify for all three futurities.

A gelded son of Volcom, JM Miracle is out of Lethal Delight, by Dean Miracle, and was bred by P.K. Thomas, who owns his sire, dam and second dam.

The order of finish for the All American Futurity: JM Miracle; Mad About the Moon; Sam Crow; Apollitical Blood; Bodacious Eagle; Exquisite Stride; Tempting Destiny; Thunderball B; and This Fire Is Cold. Im A Fancy PYC was scratched.

Too Flash For You wins $1.9 million All American Derby

Monday, September 1st, 2014

Too Flash For You

Too Flash For You, a gelded son of First Moonflash, upset favored G1 Rainbow Derby winner Houdini, to win the $1.9 million, 440-yard All American Derby, at Ruidoso Downs on Sunday, August 31.

Trained by Wes Giles, for Jose Espinosa and Michele Laird, and ridden by Larry Gamez, Too Flash For You broke smartly and crossed the wire in a time of 21.305, half-a-length over Five Bar Cartel, who was second by a neck over Houdini.

“When he heard that click and the gate opened…he left and was rolling,” said Gamez. “I just talked to my horse and asked him to go a little faster. When we hit the stretch and I saw that horse on the inside (Five Bar Cartel), I went to a left-handed (stick) and got another gear.”

It was the fourth consecutive win for the New Mexico-bred gelding, a $20,000 Ruidoso Select Sale purchase, who earned $806,772 to push his career earnings to $942,188.

“Everything came together,” said Giles. “We had lots of room and a clean break and the horse ran a huge race.

“We got banged around every time last year in the finals and he never had a chance. He’s had time to mature and this year the breaks have been coming our way. He’s got a big kick on the end, when he gets out of the gate.”

The All American Derby victory was the first $1 million-plus win for both Giles and Gamez. It has been a sensational summer for Giles, who also won the $900,000 Rainbow Futurity with Trendi, and finished second on Saturday with Jesscuzican, in the $200,000 G1 All American Gold Cup.

Five Bar Cartel, 2013 AQHA champion two-year-old colt, owned by San Gregorio Racing Stable and trained by J.J. Gonzales II, broke on the lead by a head, from the inside post position; Too Flash From You dug in from post six.

Following third-placed Houdini, in order, Big Dashing Perry; Mon Ti Dash; J Bar; Kates Dynasty; The Ultimate Eagle; and Down Side Magician completed the nine-horse finish.

Trendi scores upset over Kiss My Hocks in $900,000 Rainbow Futurity

Monday, July 21st, 2014

Trendi, at odds of 44-1, pulled off the upset of the year at Ruidoso Downs by handing number-one-ranked Quarter Horse runner Kiss My Hocks his first defeat, in the Grade 1, $900,000 Rainbow Futurity on Sunday afternoon .

Ridden by Larry Gamez, Trendi covered the 400 yards in :19.525 to defeat Kiss My Hocks by a neck. Eagle On The Fly finished third, one neck behind Kiss My Hocks.

“When I got her, she had already won (a maiden race at Delta Downs),” said trainer Wes Giles, who trains the 2-year-old filly for William Smith, who purchased her for $210,000 at the Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale.

“If she would have run in the top-three I would have been happy, but you always want to win,” Giles added. “She can’t read, so she wasn’t worried (about Kiss My Hocks).”

Trendi won her first two starts, including her Ruidoso Futurity trial, but did not qualify for the Futurity. She next finished second to Logans Zoomin in their Rainbow Futurity trial, which produced the three-fastest qualifiers to the Futurity: Logans Zoomin, Trendi and Tempting Valor.

Kiss My Hocks, the 3-10 odds on Rainbow Futurity favorite, sustained his first setback after five-straight wins, including the G2 Sam Houston Futurity and the G1 $700,000 Ruidoso Futurity.

“He lost his footing (at the start) and stumbled into Jm Miracle,” said Kiss My Hocks’ rider, Cody Jensen, who won the Rainbow Derby with Houdini on Saturday. “Trendi was already gone and we just couldn’t run her down.”

Third-place finisher Eagle On The Fly, a daughter of One Famous Eagle, was trying for her third-straight win. She was a non-qualifying winner of her Ruidoso Futurity trial in her career debut and then won her Rainbow Futurity trial by one length.

Trendi’s full brother, Stolis Winner, won the 2008 Rainbow Futurity and then went on to win the All American Futurity and was named world champion as a two-year-old. Trendi and Stolis Winner are by Stoli and out of Veva Jean, by Runaway Winner.

The order of finish for the Rainbow Futurity: Trendi at 44-1; Kiss My Hocks at 3-10; Eagle On The Fly at 14-1; Bodacious Eagle at 12-1; Boi George at 28-1; Wild Sixes Cartel at 18-1; Tempting Valor at 36-1; Jm Miracle at 5-1; Logans Zoomin at 14-1.

The Ghost Horse

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

A book with the title “The Ghost Horse – A True Story of Love, Death, and Redemption” is one that would not ordinarily interest me. But the author’s name gave me pause, so I picked it up.

Joe Layden, a New York Times best-selling author and award-winning journalist, connects on a gut level in the unvarnished story of 57-year-old, small-time race trainer Tim Snyder and a $4,500 filly Snyder named Lisa’s Booby Trap, in honor of his late wife, who had galloped horses for a living and said before she died of ovarian cancer in 2003 that she wanted to be reincarnated as a horse.

“Horse racing is not so much a business as it is a calling,” notes Layden. “The work requires too much time and energy to pursue it with anything less than utter passion; and even then, the odds against success can seem practically insurmountable. But for those who are drawn into the game, particularly at a young age, success and failure are almost irrelevant. Theirs is an obsession that must be fed, often without regard to the usual societal constraints, or the expectations set forth by family and friends.”

Such was the case of Snyder, a jockey’s son born in the first-aid station at a small Massachusetts racetrack, always on the lookout for a big break, but nevertheless the practical philosopher.

“For most of us it’s a really rough life,” Snyder told Layden. “It doesn’t matter how pretty they are, they’re still horses, and what goes on in the barn in the morning is what really matters. All that other stuff – the braided tail, the colorful silks, the guy wearing a suit in the paddock, in the afternoon, before the race? That’s all window dressing.”

Unlike Snyder’s unceremonious backside birth, Lisa’s Booby Trap was bred and raised at Florida’s prestigious Ocala Stud and nominated at birth to the Breeders’ Cup. But as an early 2-year-old, she showed little promise and Ocala Stud handed her off to horse broker John Shaw.

“She was a good-looking horse, big and strong, with a decent pedigree,” Shaw told Layden. “Not great, but respectable. But when I tried to work her? Jesus Christmas, she was slow. I practically had to time this horse with a sundial. It was ridiculous.”

Shaw, in turn, handed the filly over to another broker, Don Hunt. “My deal with Don was ‘Come and get her, try to do something with her. I gotta tell you though, she’s so slow you have to mark the ground to make sure she’s moving.”

Ultimately, the filly ended up with Snyder, who paid $2,000 down, with a promise to remit the remaining $2,500 from her earnings. In her first start, at Finger Lakes Racetrack, where Snyder camped out in a tack room, Lisa’s Booby Trap won a maiden special weight by 17¾ lengths, After her second start, won by 10½ lengths, Snyder was offered $50,000 for Lisa’s Booby Trap, but turned it down. He did the same when offered $125,000, following her third start, which she won by 8½ lengths.

From Finger Lakes it was on to renowned Saratoga Race Course, where Lisa’s Booby Trap won $42,000, as the six-length winner of the Loudonville Stakes. By now the all but throw-away filly had won four races out of four starts, by a total of 42½ lengths. And her story had just begun.

“Breeding is as much about hope and luck as it is science,” says Layden, a longtime racing fan. “You throw all that DNA into a blender and hit the switch, and then you stand back and let nature take its course.”

Or perhaps, as in the case of Lisa’s Booby Trap, let love takes its course.

“I don’t really believe so much in reincarnation,” Snyder has been quoted as saying. “It’s a big word, you know what I mean? But, there are a lot of things in this horse that resemble my wife.”

Kiss My Hocks kicks tail in Ruidoso Futurity

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Kiss My Hocks

Kiss My Hocks reinforced his lock on the title of leading two-year-old Quarter running horse with a one-half length victory in the $700,000 Ruidoso Futurity, on June 8 at Ruidoso Downs, N.M. JM Miracle finished second, 1½ lengths ahead of third-placed Bodacious Eagle.

Owned by Conda Maze and Tyler Graham, trained by Toby Keeton, and ridden by Cody Jensen, Kiss My Hocks was the fastest qualifier for the 350-yard race, winning his trial by three lengths, in 17.281 seconds. His perfect record of 4 wins in 4 starts includes a 330-yard track record win in his trial to the $564,000 Sam Houston Futurity, which he won by one-half of a length.

Bred by Tyler Graham and John Mayers, Kiss My Hocks is sired by Tempting Dash and the first stakes winner out of stakes-placed Romancing Mary, by Tres Seis.

“I’m trying to be unbiased, but he might be the fastest horse I’ve ever seen,” said legendary horseman Charlie Graham DVM, of Elgin, Texas Veterinary Hospital and Southwest Stallion Station fame, as well as grandfather of Tyler Graham. As a preeminent equine practitioner and racehorse breeder for 53 years, Graham has seen and stood the best, including Rocket Wrangler, sire of the immortal Dash For Cash.

Kiss My Hocks is from the first full crop of 7-year-old Tempting Dash, who on November 1, 2013 was sold at the Heritage Sale Mixed Sale in Oklahoma City for $1.7 million, an auction record for a Quarter race horse. Purchased by Simmons Ranch, Burnet, Tex., the stallion was sold by VSE Consignment on behalf of the Department of Treasury. Thereby hangs an incredible tale, which can be followed via the following links – Texas Observer and AQHA Racing News.

Should his connections choose to enter him in the $900,000 Rainbow Futurity trials, at Ruidoso Downs on July 3 and 4, thanks to his Ruidoso Futurity win, Kiss My Hocks is eligible for the $4 million All American Triple Crown Bonus, reserved for the horse who can sweep all three of the track’s G1 two-year-old events: the Ruidoso Futurity, the Rainbow Futurity, and the $2.6 million All American Futurity on Labor Day.

Special Effort, who won all three races in 1981 and retired with 13 victories from 14 starts, is the only horse to have ever won the All American Triple Crown.

 

Raven On the Wind - Wylie & The Wild West

#1s...and Then Some
Brooks & Dunn

The Best of Don Edwards

Rockets Of The Racetrack: True Stories Of American Quarter Horse Racing
At the Track: A Treasury of Horse Racing Stories
Kelso: The Horse of Gold
America's Castles - Cattle Barons
Bob & Helen Kleberg of King Ranch
Equine Massage for Performance Horses DVD
6666: Portrait Of A Texas Ranch

Sally's Store

Make Money With Horses
Melbourne Cup 1930: How Phar Lap Won Australia's Greatest Race
The Performance Horse: A Photographic Tribute
The Idaho Cowboy: A Photographic Portrayal
The American Cowboy: A Photographic History
Cowboy Values: Recapturing What America Once Stood For
Bloodlines: A Horse Racing Anthology
Thoroughbred Champions: Top 100 Racehorses of the 20th Century
Cowboy Gear: A Photographic Portrayal of the Early Cowboys and Their Equipment
Waiting for Daylight: King Ranch: Images from the Past