Boon San Kitty, 2004 NCHA Horse of the Year and the only Horse of the Year to produce an NCHA Futurity champion, has been sold, along with her full sister RW Sallycat, to the Circle Y Ranch of Aubrey, Tex.
The 12-year-old High Brow Cat daughters are the third generation to wear the brand of Alice Walton’s famous Rocking W Ranch. Walton bred them, as well as their dam, Boon San Sally, one of cutting’s top 10 producers, with over $1 million in offspring earnings, and Boon San Sally’s dam, Hula Stopa.
“I would never have parted with them, if I didn’t think they were going to the perfect home,” said Walton. “In the breeding business, it’s all about the next generation. I have a commitment to promote my three stallions, but I couldn’t breed my two greatest mares to them.”
Walton owns syndicate shares in Rockin W, 2009 NCHA Futurity champion out of Boon San Kitty, as well his 9-year-old three-quarter brother, Boon San, and The Boon, by Peptoboonsmal out of Boon San Kitty.
“I don’t know that I’ll ever have two like them,” said Walton of Boon San Kitty and RW Sallycat. “I never thought anything would replace Boon San Sally either, but the fillies I have coming on have the same kind of talent, so I am excited.
“I have three of Boon San Kitty’s daughters and two of RW Sallycat’s, and I am definitely not getting out of the business.”
It was Don Ham, who stands High Brow CD, 2007 NCHA Futurity champion and 2008 NCHA Horse of the Year, at his facility in Whitesboro, Tex., that brought Penny Youngblood and Nancy Pearce of Circle Y Ranch together with Walton and Jim Ware, manager of the Rockin W Syndicate, as well as marketing manager for the Rocking W Ranch.
Youngblood, the owner/manager of Circle Y Ranch, established by her late father, J. Lee Youngblood, in 1979, and Pearce, Circle Y Ranch associate ranch manager, had been inspired by High Brow CD’s 230-point winning performance in the Champions Cup at the 50th anniversary of the NCHA Futurity, last December. When they consulted with Ham about breeding one of their mares to High Brow CD, they also asked him for his help in finding several high caliber cutting broodmares.
“Everything that I could think of for them led to a dead end,” said Ham. “So I called Jim Ware and he suggested that we talk with Alice Walton. The next day, we met with Penny and Nancy at Alice’s and they called me at 6:45 the next morning, ready to finalize the deal.
“They want to build a program that is second to none. What a way to start with those two great mares. Usually you have to start a lot lower than that because those kind usually aren’t for sale.”
Youngblood took over operation of the Circle Y Ranch in 1996, following her father’s death, and until recently focused on reined cowhorse (NRCHA) competition. The tipping point came last summer, when Youngblood and Pearce attended a cutting clinic conducted by NCHA Hall of Fame trainers Lindy Burch and Kathy Daughn.
“It was like a baptism by fire for us,” said Pearce who like Youngblood grew up riding horses. “That’s all it took. That’s where our cutting passion started, and we shifted our focus to cutting because we feel it’s such an exciting sport.
“We will definitely stay in the reined cowhorse world with a few of the horses that we have at the Circle Y Ranch like our stallion Shining Cat, by Shining Spark, and Savannahboonsmal, a four-year-old mare who has done really well in NRCHA competition.”
In the meantime, the Circle Y Ranch is undergoing major renovations for its new direction, as well as for Boon San Kitty and RW Sallycat.
“This is monumental for the Circle Y,” said Pearce. “We cannot express our gratitude enough to Alice Walton for entrusting these two great mares to us. We share her passion and respect for the individual horse. We will treat them as individuals and love them as individuals, and we will only breed them to the best cutting sires.”
The past week has been emotional for Walton, Youngblood and Pearce, all of whom are not embarrassed to lavish their horses with kisses, cookies, and “butt scratches,” a favorite treat for Miss Piggy and Jenny (Walton’s pet names for Boon San Kitty and RW Sally Cat).
“If you had to describe the perfect home and someone that truly loves their horses and takes care of them, that’s what I saw in Penny and Nancy.” said Walton. “I promised (those mares) they would never be separated and I felt this was the opportunity to make sure they were in the right place for the rest of their lives.
“I went in and cried with Miss Piggy and Jenny last night and gave them big butt rubs. But I don’t think they’re going to be missing any butt rubs or neck scratches.”
Boon San Kitty and RW Sallycat have rarely been separated since they retired from their show careers. “It used to be so bad that if one went to the vet or breeding farm, the other one would have to go, too,” said Walton. “They’ve gotten a little bit better about (short separations), but they’ve always been together.”
Horses are not Walton’s only passion. The daughter of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton is the driving force behind the development of internationally acclaimed Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, which opened to the public in December 2011 and has already attracted 200,000 visitors to Bentonville, Ark., where Walton spent her childhood.
Boon San Kitty, whose 2012 embryo transfer foal by Dual Rey is due later this month, won seven major limited age events and over $555,000, and her offspring have earned over $300,000. RW Sallycat, who has a 2012 colt on the ground by Dual Rey, earned more than $110,000, and her first foal, Sally Cats Hot, by Spots Hot, most recently won the Cattlemen’s Classic Ltd. with Rocking W resident trainer Chris Bates.
The Circle Y Ranch is also 50 percent owner with Lindy Burch of the yearling filly Ruffian Cat, by Metallic Cat out of NCHA world champion and world champion producer Bet Yer Blue Boons. They also own 2-year-old Louella Deville, by High Brow Cat, in training with Lindy Burch.
Rockin W and Boon San both stand at the Four Sixes Ranch in Guthrie, Tex.