Major League Baseball owner Bobby Patton scores with Boon San

October 2nd, 2015

Bobby Patton and Boon San. Photo by Sally Harrison

The showcase Parker County, Texas horse ranch Bobby Patton had just purchased was an investment. Looking ahead, Patton envisioned keeping a few barrel racing horses there for his daughter Rachel, 15, who rides barrels and shows steers in 4-H competition. Then a friend casually mentioned Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton’s upcoming cutting horse dispersal sale, just days away, on September 22, at Walton’s Parker County ranch.

“None of this was really pursuant to a grand plan,” said Patton, 52, a Fort Worth businessman, investor, and co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who found himself the owner of 11 blue-blooded cutting horses at the tune of $1.8 million, at the conclusion of Walton’s Rocking W Ranch dispersal.

“I didn’t know anything about cutting horses, but it got me to thinking and one thing led to another. I looked at it as a business, and thought if these people (who work for Rocking W Ranch) are going to be out of a job, I’ll take a leap of faith that Alice Walton hires good people and hire them for my ranch. Then we’ll have good people and a good facility, possibly two of the hardest things to find. And that’s when I approached Jesse (Lennox, Rocking W’s resident trainer).

“I’d never met Alice Walton before the day of the sale, but I asked Jesse questions about different horses, and I think we kind of kept the core of her operation together. That was my goal.”

The Walton dispersal offered a-once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for someone with the wherewithal to acquire the cream of a renowned cutting horse program five decades in the making and backed by seven generations of selectively bred champions.

Preeminent Rocking W Ranch sire Boon San will be the cornerstone of Patton’s Rocking P Ranch breeding program. The 12-year-old stallion, a $500,000 purchase, will be joined there by his 5-year-old daughter Boon San Baby, earner of $197,332, and four other champion offspring, all still eligible to show in lucrative NCHA limited age events.

Patton also acquired an in utero foal sired by Boon San, out of Stylish Baby Doll, for an all-time record of $100,000. Due in 2016, the embryo is a full sibling to Boon San Baby. In addition, Patton also purchased two-year-old Pattie Rocks, a Stylish Baby Doll daughter sired by 2009 NCHA Futurity Open champion Rockin W, whose dam, NCHA Horse of the Year Boon San Kitty, is a full sister to Boon San and a current leading producer of cutting horses.

“It’s all built on one mare, Boon San Sally,” said Jesse Lennox of Patton’s program. “Boon Sans are really freaky, great movers. Their foot speed is incredible and they have a stride and front extension that is unique to the line. It gives them a lot of reach across a cow. When they have that reach, they’re at an advantage to stop, and the horse that’s quickest across the cow and can stop quickest is the one that gets the biggest check.

“I’ve felt really lucky to start my career on these great horses and now to be able to continue with them.”

Boon San, whose oldest performers are five-year-olds, was the last horse, other than the nine-year-old gelding Boon San Stan, that Alice Walton had retained out of Rocking W Ranch matriarch Boon San Sally. A Boon Bar daughter foaled in 1980 out of Hula Stopa, by Hula San, Boon San Sally (deceased) is an NCHA top 25 all-time leading producer of the earners of $1.1 million.

“I looked at the Marvine property as a good investment and a good facility that was clearly created by someone who had an incredible amount of passion,” said Patton, whose new Rocking P Ranch was the former Marvine Ranch, owned by Jon and Abby Winkelried and home to some outstanding cutting horses, including multiple champion and champion producer Quintan Blue.

“I thought the ranch had value, but when I bought it, I thought maybe we’d have a few barrel horses on it,” Patton added. “Then Alice’s sale came up and the next thing I know, I’m in the cutting horse business. It was just really fortunate the way things fell in place the way they have.”

Reflecting on the recent turn of events for Patton, it is hard not to think of another “Bobby,” who 30 years ago had no intention of getting into the cutting horse breeding business.

“You can buy good mares, but to get a good stud, you have to be very lucky,” Bobby Pidgeon told me in 1990. “I never thought I’d own a stud; then I bought Dual Pep. It was the luck of the draw.”

Dual Pep helped make Pidgeon’s Bar H Ranche the number two all-time leading breeder of cutting horse earners and has left an indelible mark on the pedigrees of generations of champions, including Walton-bred Rockin W, by Dual Rey, by Dual Pep.

“I did not think I was going to pay $500,000 for Boon San, but I knew I had to,” said Bobby Patton, who plans to stand the stallion at Weatherford Equine Breeding Center. “I couldn’t let him go to someone else, and fortunately he didn’t.“