Archive for June, 2012

Meat Week

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

“Meat Week,” Morning Edition’s feature this week about U.S. meat providers, offered some interesting numbers for the cattle industry.

According to the article by Peggy Lowe, a reporter for Harvest Public Media:

  • There are 750,000 individual cow-calf operations in the U.S., with an average herd size of 40.
  • There are 2,160 feedlots with 1,000-plus capacity, with the top 25 housing a total of more than 100,000 head or 47% of the market.
  • There are four meatpacking companies that process 82% of the beef on the market: JBS, the world’s largest; Tyson Foods; Cargill; and National Beef Packaging.

Here some more facts that I found through the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s website

  • There were 94.5 million cattle in the U.S. on Jan. 1, 2009.
  • In 2011, 90% of U.S. cow herds had fewer than 100 cows.
  • Five of the top 10 cow-calf operations, in terms of capacity, are located in Florida.
  • The largest cow-calf operation, with 40,000 head, is Deseret Ranch, in central Florida, owned and operated by an entity of the Mormon Church.

George Hearst, 1927-2012

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

George R. Hearst Jr., 84, died on Monday, June 25 of complications from a stroke. An avid supporter of the sport of cutting on the West Coast, Hearst owned Estrella Ranch in Paso Robles, Calif., where he and his wife Sue raised Quarter Horses and hosted many cutting events.

Hearst was the oldest grandson of William Randolph Hearst, the twentieth century media magnate and inspiration for fictional character Charles Foster Kane, portrayed by Orson Welles in the award-winning film Citizen Kane (1941). It was William Randolph Hearst who built the famous Hearst Castle in San Simeon, Calif.

In 1996, George Hearst succeeded his uncle, Randolph Apperson Hearst, as chairman of Hearst Corporation. Randolph Hearst had made headlines in 1974, when an extremist group calling itself the Symbionese Liberation Army kidnapped his 19-year-old daughter Patrica “Patty” Hearst and demanded millions in ransom.

George Hearst is survived by his twin sister Phoebe Hearst Cooke; his wife Susan and her daughter Jessica Gonsalves and her two children; his three children, George R. Hearst III, Stephen T. Hearst and Erin Hearst Knudsen; six grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. Hearst’s oldest child, Mary Hearst Ives died in 2004.

It’s about time!

Thursday, June 21st, 2012


In a unanimous 7-0 decision this week at Laurel Park, the Maryland Racing commission voted to change Secretariat’s official time in the 1973 Preakness to 1:53, which eclipses the previous Preakness record of 1:54 set by Canonero II in 1971, as well as the 1:53 2/5 shared by Tank’s Prospect (1985), Louis Quatorze (1996) and Curlin (2007).

Secretariat’s record times in the 1 1/4 mile Kentucky Derby (1:59 2/5) and the 1 1/2 mile Belmont Stakes (2:24, against wind in the backstretch) also still stand. His official electronically recorded time in the Preakness was charted at 1:55, but changed to 1:54 2/5 two days later based on the Pimlico clocker’s manually recorded time. But two staff members of the Daily Racing Form independently clocked the performance at 1:53 2/5, increasing doubt about the validity of the track’s “officially” adjusted time.

“It is wonderful for the sport to remove an asterisk and wonderful for the legacy of Secretariat and his fans, who believed he set the record in all three Triple Crown races,” said Leonard Lusky, who represented Secretariat’s owner, Penny Chenery. It was Chenery and Tom Chuckas, president of Pimlico race track, who requested an investigation into the matter, and modern film synchronization techniques were called upon to resolve the controversy once and for all.

Click here to watch Secretariat’s awe-inspiring Preakness performance; note that rider Ron Turcotte never uses the whip.

The Non-Pro and more

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

James Payne

Homebreds claimed the top two divisions of the “The Non Pro plus The Open Cutting,” in Oklahoma City today.

Once In A Blu Boon, shown by James Payne for Jill Freeman, scored 221 points to earn $6,000 in the 4-year-old finals, while George C Merada, with John Wold for Furst Ranch, earned 224 points and $6,000 in the 5/6-year-old finals, where Cat Man Blue and Sean Flynn took reserve with 223.5 points. Little Kitty Sista and Jonathon Rogers placed second to Once In A Blue Boon with 218.5 points.

Once In A Blu Boon and Payne also won the Arbuckle Mountain Futurity in February; placed 18th in the Breeders Invitational last month; were semi-finalists in the 2011 NCHA Futurity; and have now earned over $50,000. The Peptoboonsmal son, bred by Karen Freeman, is out of Autumn Boon, NCHA earner of $244,470 and a leading producer of 17 earners of more than $1 million. Autumn Boon’s dam, Royal Blue Boon is the all-time leading producer of cutting horses, including Mecom Blue, the dam’s sire of Cat Man Blue.

George C Merada, by Cats Merada, is the NCHA earner of nearly $170,000.

Missy Oehlhof, Bush, La., and Alexis Stephas, Chattanooga, Tenn., topped the non-pro divisions, where Oehlhof was champion of the 4-year-old finals with 220.5 points aboard Takes Alotta Faith, by Kit Dual, and co-reserve champion of the 5-year-old with 218.5 on Shes My Other Pistol, by Playgun

Stephas scored 221 points for her win with Ima Little Ichi, by Cat Ichi; Mica Chartier and Francisco Sigala were co-reserve champions of the 4-year-old division on Light Reys, by CD Lights, and RL Mojo Cat, by High Brow Cat, respectively.

Click here for complete results with pedigrees of finalist.

2012 The Non-Pro

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Feast Day of Fools

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Mexican drug cartel, dismembered human bodies, millions laundered through a race horse operation. It sounds like the plot for one of James Lee Burke‘s “Hackberry Holland” novels.

Maybe fans will get lucky and Burke will write Hack into a similar plot. But luck ran out for Tremor Enterprises on Tuesday, June 12, when FBI raids shut down their Quarter Horse racing operation, including a stable at Ruidoso Downs in NM and Zule Farm in Lexington, Okla.

A powerful Mexican drug cartel known as Zetas, had been using Tremor to launder millions of dollars in drug money, and the Feds became suspicious when they learned Tremor had paid more than $1 million for two broodmares in a single day. While Zetas king pin Miguel Angel Trevino Morales lived on the run, and his henchmen dismembered victims and dumped their bodies along a busy Mexican highway (49 bodies last month alone), his brother and second-in-command, Jose Trevino, was rubbing shoulders with prominent horsemen at high-profile horse races and sales.

Details and back story on the raid and the Morales brothers and Zetas appeared in a front-page feature by Ginger Thompson in Tuesday’s New York Times.

For those who prefer cold reality filtered through fiction, I recommend James Lee Burke, a master of flawed characters and compelling plots, whose language draws the reader into the landscape, which in the case of the Holland novels is the Southwest.

“It’s like a picture postcard slashed with a bloody knife. It’s heart-breakingly gorgeous and sandpaper-harsh, both at the same time,” said one reviewer of Burke’s “Feast Day of Fools.”

“Holy shit does this novel crush into its pages a whole war chest of bloody drama and brutal questions about what it means to be an American and a Christian and a Christian American in the new century. . . . James Lee Burke—muscular and elegiac, brutal and compassionate—is a Stetson-wearing, spur-jangling giant among novelists,” said Benjamin Percy for Esquire.

Burke first found success with his character Dave Robicheaux, deputy sheriff of New Iberia, La., in a series that includes more than a dozen titles.

James Lee Burke with Love That Sante Fe and Missy's Playboy

His character Hackberry Holland is the middle-aged, widowed sheriff of a small Texas town near the Mexican border. Hack lives alone on a ranch, where he cares for two geldings, Missy’s Playboy and Love That Santa Fe (named for Burke’s own horses) to the point that he lines the sides of their water tank with wire mesh to assure that rats, if they fall in, will be able to climb out.

I can”t say enough good things about James Lee Burke based on his Hackberry Holland series, so I will stop here and provide links to: Feast Day of Fools, Rain Gods and Lay Down My Sword and Shield.

I’ll Have Another won’t

Saturday, June 9th, 2012

I’ll Have Another’s bid for the Triple Crown ended on Friday, June 8, when it was announced that he had been scratched from the Belmont Stakes due to inflammation in his left front superficial tendon.

“I’m afraid history is going to have to wait for another day,” said I’ll Have Another’s owner, Paul Reddam, who in concurrence with trainer Doug O’Neill has decided to officially retire the colt from racing with career earnings of $2,693,600 and an unblemished 3-year-old record with wins in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Santa Anita Derby and Robert Lewis Stakes.

Bold Venture

I’ll Have Another joins the ranks of two other Kentucky Derby and Preakness winners denied by injury of a shot at the Triple Crown: Burgoo King in 1932 and Bold Venture in 1936.

Burgoo King injured an ankle in the Withers Stakes, which was run one week prior to the Belmont Stakes that year, and later returned to racing.

Bold Venture developed tendonitis in his right front leg and was retired from racing. In 1939, he was purchased by King Ranch and became the only horse to sire two Kentucky Derby winners, both out of King Ranch mares. In 1946, Assault became the seventh Triple Crown champion in turf history and the only Texas-bred horse, to date, to win the Triple Crown. Middleground, also by Bold Venture, won the 1950 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes.

Depth Charge

Bold Venture also sired Miss Princess, three-time Quarter Horse world champion running horse, as well as Depth Charge, half-brother to 1943 Triple Crown champion Count Fleet.

Although Depth Charge, also owned by King Ranch, had an undistinguished career on the track, he became a top sire of Quarter Horse runners and can be found in the pedigrees of many of Quarter racing’s great champions.