High Brow CD, the 2007 NCHA Futurity open champion, who remains undefeated in 2008, after winning the Augusta Futurity and the Tunica Futurity, has been sold.

New owners Chris and Staci Thibodeaux, Jennings, LA, and former owner Arthur Noble, Madison, MS, finalized their agreement on Monday, February 11, following routine breeding and soundness examinations of High Brow CD at Louisiana State University. Also on hand were trainer Austin Shepard, who will continue to show High Brow CD; Don Ham, who will stand him in Whitesboro, TX; Jim Ware, agent, along with Ham, in the sale transaction; and Don McGraw, Noble’s attorney.

Price and terms of the sale remain confidential. Last year, however, former NCHA Futurity champion and established sire Peptoboonsmal sold for a rumored $5 million, at the age of 15. High Brow CD is the only stallion to ever win the NCHA Futurity and two other major events within six weeks. He currently has earnings of more than $300,000. Noble purchased High Brow CD as a yearling, at the NCHA Futurity Sales for $63,000.

I spoke with Chris Thibodeaux and Arthur Noble, as well as Austin Shepard, Don Ham, and Jim Ware on Monday, following the sale. For Noble, a homebuilder dealing with the disastrous real estate market, the sale was bittersweet, and he had difficulty articulating his feelings. But last night, I received an email from Noble, who said that I could share his thoughts with you. Tomorrow I will revisit the sale, as well as High Brow CD’s history and future, with Chris Thibodeaux, Austin Shepard, and Don Ham.

In the email that follows, Noble refers to High Brow CD as Wendel, after the stallion’s breeder, Bob Wendel, Bastrop, TX.

Dear Sally,

I apologize for not being able to talk to you today about the sale of Wendel to Chris Thibodeaux. It has been a very emotional couple of months for me. Wendel winning the Futurity, then at Augusta and Tunica, was absolutely amazing – the dream continued.

Chris and I had a contract for the sale of Wendel before the first go-round at Augusta. I told Chris how special a horse Wendel was and that I thought he was “the real deal.” Man, did he make me out to be a salesman or what?

The deal has been a blessing because of the character of the three men involved – Chris Thibodeaux, Don Ham and Jim Ware. I can’t say enough good things about these three. After Wendel won Tunica, I had a conversation about the events of the day with Chris on the way back to my motel. To show you the kind of person that he is, he was very concerned about the sale of Wendel breaking my heart.

Well, he is right, but I will have to get over it. I have a ring, belt buckle, trophy and several magazines to help me remember what we all did together and how special a time it was. And I have learned so much about the horse business from talking to Jim Ware over the past several weeks. I appreciate all that he has done to make this deal as easy and pleasurable as it has been.

Then there is Austin Shepard, who is not only my trainer, but also my friend, and now part of my family. I would not have sold this horse to anyone, if they would not have agreed to leave him with Austin. But it was never an issue.

Austin bought this horse for me – which is a story in itself – and arranged for Gerald Alexander to start him. Gerald did such a good job and Wendel didn’t do so bad for a horse that was believed not to be of open caliber. But I think Gerald was being a little modest. Austin got the horse after last year’s Futurity and the rest, to this point, is history.

Austin is a winner and he is not scared to win. In all three of his wins [on High Brow CD], he could have taken more time on his third cows, but he opted to show the judges that he had the confidence and the courage to win. I owe Austin much more than my gratitude. Honor, integrity and honesty are the words I would use to describe Austin, who I have to keep reminding myself is only 30 years old. I know Austin will win more than this one Futurity, but I am glad he won his first on Wendel.

Don McGraw, who got me into cutting, is my best friend and my attorney, who keeps me out of trouble. He feeds my horses, when I am too lazy to get out of bed; he was there when I purchased Wendel; he checked on Wendel for me at Gerald Alexander’s; he was there with me when Wendel won the Futurity and at Tunica; and he handled putting Whole Lotta Pretty down for me, when I didn’t have the heart to do it myself. And most of all, Don, who is an Ole Miss fan, spent all day at LSU and handled the legal portion of the sale of Wendel to Chris Thibodeaux.

Last, but certainly not least, there is Wendel, my buddy. He was the first yearling I ever purchased, had trained and that competed in the Futurity. What luck! Wendel, I believe, was a blessing from above. What else could it be? The story of how I purchased him is proof enough.

Him winning the Futurity has been the best thing that has happened to me other than my family. I owe the little horse with the big heart more than I could ever repay. And as I write this email, the Futurity trophy is sitting on my desk in front of me, reminding me of what Austin and Wendel have accomplished.

I am relatively new to cutting, only being in it for about seven years, so a lot of the history is also new. But I am learning almost every day how lucky I have been, and thanking God for the blessings he has bestowed on me.

Not being able to keep a Futurity champion, let alone the horse that I love, is very tough. I will be his biggest fan, next to Bob Wendel, and I will be at every event that I can to pull for him and Austin. And, l will get to see him when I go down to the beach, and I will get to breed some mares to him. And, just maybe, I will get to have another dream. And to all that have been trying to win the Futurity, big operators and the so-called little guys like me, I pray that you get to experience the feeling of having a Futurity Champion.

I know this is a rather long email and I hope you can use as much of it as possible in your blog, because Wendel and Austin are treading in areas of the greatest cutting horses in history. And to me he is the best!


Arthur Noble