Archive for February, 2008

Shepard brings $401K to Vegas

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Austin Shepard leads the 11-horse MillionHeir Classic field going into Saturday’s finals in Las Vegas with go-round leaders MH San Tules Dually and San Tule Uno. Shepard scored a double last year with a win in the MillionHeir Derby on San Tule Uno, owned by Mike and Libby Bowman, and in the MillionHeir Classic on MH Quixote Plays, owned by Elizabeth Brumbaugh.

Shepard’s greatest triumph last year, however, was the 2007 NCHA Futurity win on High Brow CD (he was also an NCHA Futurity finalist on Playware).

In the 52 days from December 16, 2007 and February 5, 2008, Shepard earned $401,000. So far this year, he has ridden an undefeated High Brow CD as champion of the Augusta Futurity and the Tunica Futurity.

The odds are good that someone named Phil will win the 16-horse finals of the South Point Classic/Challenge, also held on Saturday in Las Vegas. Phil Rapp had the highest go-round score (220) on Autumn Acre and tied with Russ Miller on Kittens for the high cumulative of 436.5. Rapp also qualified Miss Reycine and Tootsie Rey.

Phil Hanson qualified for the finals on four mounts: LHR Smart Time; Sophisticated Catt; Little Silver Belles; and Rey Jay Play. He also qualified BNL Iron Will for the 11-horse finals of the MillionHeir Classic on Saturday.

Elmer Kelton: Winding trail of a Texas writer

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

I would rather read than write. Until a few weeks ago, because of a yearlong commitment, I had precious little time to read for pleasure. The stacks of books that I had been hoarding against this time overwhelmed me. One of the first ones that I unearthed was Elmer Kelton’s memoir Sandhills Boy – The Winding Trail of a Texas Writer, published in 2007.

Kelton’s father, born in 1901, was a third-generation West Texas cowboy. Elmer’s brother Myrle, who I met on one of Buster Welch’s roundups, was a fourth-generation cowboy. But Elmer Kelton, now 82, went a different route. He rounded up readers and transported them back to a time and place where people had a strong sense of the value of work in spite of the harsh realities of Mother Nature and the advances of modern technology.

“Dad valued physical labor but distrusted indoor work,” wrote Kelton. “He did not acknowledge that anyone sitting at a desk was actually working. He liked to see some tangible end product of labor, whether it be cattle for the market, a crop of cotton, a straight fence, a meal on the table, or even a proper shine on a pair of boots. A pile of papers did not count, for these could not be eaten, worn, ridden or driven.”

I was introduced to Kelton’s writing by Buster Welch, another avid reader. Kelton is best known for his fiction – his peers in the Western Writers of America voted him the “Best Western Writer of All Time” – and Buster recommended that I read Kelton’s novel The Time It Never Rained, whose protagonist, Charlie Webb, struggles against severe drought and bureaucratic restrictions in West Texas of the 1950s.

“In a broad sense this book is dedicated to the old-time Western ranchman, whose life style gave him an inkling of Heaven and more than his proper share of Hell,” wrote Kelton in the introduction to The Time It Never Rained. “In particular it is dedicated to my father, Buck Kelton … one of them.”

If you haven’t read Kelton, you may have seen the 1995 TNT movie of Kelton’s novels, The Good Old Boys, directed by and starring Tommy Lee Jones, who also starred in No Country for Old Men, awarded the Academy Award as best picture of 2007.

If you love good books about the American West – fiction or non-fiction – doesn’t pass up Elmer Kelton.

QH racing Triple Crown entries up 27%

Monday, February 25th, 2008

Ruidoso Downs announced today that nominations to the 2009 All American Triple Crown races for 2-year-olds are up 27 percent over 2008 nominations, at this time last year. At 1,316, the 2009 nominations are the highest since the All American Triple Crown nominating process was instituted.

“These impressive numbers show the excitement owners and breeders have in the All American Triple Crown. We’re honored to have their support,” said Ann McGovern, president and general manager of the famous Ruidoso, New Mexico track.

Nominations to the All American Triple Crown make the horses, in this case foals of 2007, eligible to the Grade 1, $500,000 Ruidoso Futurity; Grade 1, $625,000 Rainbow Futurity and the Grade 1, $2 million All American Futurity. If a horse sweeps all three races, it will earn a $4 million All American Triple Crown bonus, in addition to its winner’s share of the race purses. Nominated horses also have the option of remaining eligible to the three Grade 1 races for 3-year-olds at Ruidoso Downs in 2010: the Ruidoso Derby, Rainbow Derby and All American Derby.

The top three 2009 nominators account for 157 yearlings. Vessels Stallion Farm tops the list with 68. The Bonsall, California ranch won the 1973 All American Futurity with Timeto Thinkrich and the 2006 running with No Secrets Here. Vessels Stallion Farm stands all-time leading sire First Down Dash.

The second-leading nominator with 46 yearlings is Bobby Cox. His homebred Dont Let Down won the 2007 All American Derby and he also won the 2004 All American Derby with Brimmerton.

The third-leading nominator is Burnett Ranches. This is the famed 6666 Ranch in Guthrie, Texas, founded in 1870. The 6666 Ranch stands All American Futurity winners Royal Quick Dash and Eyesa Special, as well as All American Derby winners Stoli and Brimmerton.

Benefits in the Economic Stimulus Act for Horse Industry

Monday, February 25th, 2008

On February 13, 2008, President Bush signed into law the Economic Stimulus Act.  According the the American Horse Council, the bill, intended to provide a jump-start to the lagging U.S. economy, includes two tax incentives that would allow a much bigger write-off for horses used in business and other property purchased and placed in service during 2008.

The first incentive would increase the Section 179 expensing allowance for horses purchased and placed into service in 2008 from $128,000 to $250,000.  This expensing allowance applies to farm equipment and most other depreciable property. Once total purchases of horses and other eligible depreciable property during 2008 reach $800,000, the expense allowance goes down one dollar for each dollar spent on eligible property over $800,000.

To illustrate the expensing allowance, assume a horse business purchases $750,000 of depreciable property in 2008, including $650,000 for horses. That business can write off $250,000 on its 2008 tax return and depreciate the balance. If instead, purchases were $900,000, the expense allowance would go down by $100,000. In either case, the amount of the purchases not expensed may also be eligible for bonus depreciation, the second incentive.

Bonus depreciation brings back 50% first-year bonus depreciation for horses and most other depreciable property purchased and placed in service during 2008. It does not apply to property that has a depreciation life of over 20 years. Also, as was the case when bonus depreciation was available in 2003 and 2004, the property must be new, meaning that the original use of the horse or other property must commence with the taxpayer. For a horse to be eligible, it cannot have been used for any purpose before purchase.

As an example, assume that in 2008 a business pays $500,000 for a colt to be used for racing and $50,000 for other depreciable property, bringing total purchases to $550,000. The colt had never been raced or used for any other purpose before the purchase. The business would be able to expense $250,000, deduct another $150,000 of bonus depreciation (50% of the $300,000 remaining balance), and take regular depreciation on the $150,000 balance.,,id=179227,00.html

Cowan and fellow cutters score big at SRCHA Derby

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

Michelle Cowan, Ardmore, OK, started riding cutting horses to improve her skills in snaffle bit competition. Now she is a champion on both fronts. Cowan and fellow cutters Boyd Rice and McKenzie Merrill all claimed titles this week in the SRCHA Circle Y Derby held in Stephenville, TX.

Winner of the 2007 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Non-Pro championship on Wheres My Shine, Cowan captured the SRCHA Derby Non-Pro title with Reward Me Please sired by Chic Please. Boyd Rice, 2007 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Open Futurity winner on Oh Cay N Short, took reserve of the Open Derby on the same Oh Cay Quixote son; and McKenzie Merrill, Weatherford, TX, won the Amateur championship on 5-year-old Captain 327, by Hickorys Indian Pep.

“The herd work is just like cutting, except you have two hands,” Cowan said of snaffle bit competition. “The fence work you think is different, but it’s not really that much different. It’s all about reading and rating the cow down the fence.”

Last year, Cowan, earned five reserve championships in major limited age cutting events and was a finalist in both the NCHA Futurity Amateur and Non-Pro Limited divisions.

Rice, who rides 4-year-old Oh Cay N Short for Kevin and Sydney Knight, showed the bay stallion as reserve champion of the Abilene Cutting Spectacular 4-Year-Old $10,000 Novice division and as a finalist in the 4-Year-Old Open. Oh Cay N Short was one of an unprecedented five horses that Rice qualified for the Abilene Spectacular 4-Year-Old Open division.

The Knights, of Peoria, AZ, also own 5-year-old Soula Moolah, by Soula Jule Star, the NRCHA Derby Open champion ridden by Corey Cushing.

Although Merrill is new to NRCHA competition, she is a former NCHA Derby Non-Pro Limited champion and All American Quarter Horse Congress champion in reining. Her father, Frank Merrill, is current president of the American Quarter Horse Association.

AQHA president Frank Merrill named to USET Foundation Board

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

The United States Equestrian Team Foundation has announced that American Quarter Horse Association president Frank Merrill is one of its four new Board of Trustee members. The USET Foundation is the nonprofit organization that supports the competition, training, coaching, travel and educational needs of America’s international, high-performance horses and athletes in partnership with the United States Equestrian Federation. The organization’s programs are developed in the seven international equestrian disciplines of dressage, eventing, show jumping, driving, endurance, reining and vaulting. The programs train and support top athletes and horses to compete at the Olympics, World Championships, Pan American Games and other top international competitions.

The USET Foundation selects its Board of Trustee members based on their significant contributions to the performance horse industry and recognized Merrill for his more than 40 years of involvement with American Quarter Horses. Merrill has bred, owned and raised AQHA world champions and stakes winners and has participated in almost every AQHA discipline including racing, halter, roping, cutting, reining and other Western and English events.

Merrill has won multiple championships in the National Cutting Horse Association. He also has owned and exhibited two AQHA Hall of Fame horses – Miss Jim 45 and Royal Santana. In addition, his Windward Stud in Purcell, OK counted some of the Quarter Horse world’s most preeminent race and performance stallions on its roster.

With his wife, Robin, Merrill owned and operated Windward Stud until October 2006, when they sold the breeding and training facility to Bill, Barbara and Lisa Cowan, of Havre, MT. Currently, Frank Merrill serves as CO-CEO of Cowan Select Horses LLC at Windward Stud Ltd.

The other new USET Foundation board members are Melanie Smith Taylor, who helped the United States win Team Gold at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics aboard Calypso; Peter Welles, who has been active in promoting and enhancing equestrian sport in the United States and serves as a member of the United States Equestrian Team Foundation’s National Advisory and Development Committees; and Abigail S. Wexner, who is a lawyer and community activist involved in philanthropic work focused on children’s issues. For more information on the USET Foundation visit

Lemac Goodbar 1978-2008

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

Lemac Goodbar, a 1981 NCHA Open Futurity finalist under Don Munn, died last week. He was 30 and had spent his final years with Munn on his ranch in Hempstead, TX.

“He probably did more for me than I did for him,” said Munn, who purchased the son of Doc Bar Star as a yearling from breeder Don McLean, at the NCHA Futurity Sale. In the mid-1980s, Lemac Goodbar was purchased by the ill-fated Wichita Land and Cattle Co. of Houston, TX, who stood him at their facility in Brenham, TX. Wichita Ranch was later purchased by Lannie Mecom, under whose helm it has become a prominent breeding and training facility and home of current top sire Mecom Blue.

Lemac Goodbar, who was ranked ninth in 1984 NCHA Open World Championship standings, had career earnings of $64,000. He sired 45 performers, the most successful of which was Lashawns Lemac, with NCHA earnings of $25,198.