The American Dream Winning the All American Futurity

Posted by Lyn Jank on 06/09/2020


1972 All American Futurity winner

“Her share of the purse was around $337,000, and we’ve been careful with the money, still have some left, drawing interest. She made our lives a lot easier,” said breeder/owner/trainer Jack Byers. 

“I bred her, owned her, raised her, trained her, raced her and finally sold her to Melvin Hatley. I still have a picture of her on my wall. Melvin has since sold her to Dan Urschel, and I think she’s got a foal by Azure Te now. Maybe they’ll breed her to Pie In The Sky next year. 

“Her sire was Jet Deck; her mother, Susie Possum by Parr Passum. I’ve still got Susie. She’s eighteen. 

“I knew that Possumjet was special when I started fooling around with her and breaking her. She was so playful – played all day, played by herself if she couldn’t find playmates. Possumjet won the 1972 All American Futurity when I was seventy years old. I’ve got a ’77 colt out of her – Next Snow by Tom Be Wise by Tom Fool. He did fine at two, he’s out on the wheat pasture now, and I’ll run him again this fall. 

“It’s only been eight years since Possumjet did her thing at Ruidoso, but things have gone lightning fast since then. First place Futurity in ’82 is going to be a solid million. Hard to believe. It’s great, I’m for it, just hope the poor people get a shot at it. 

“I’m seventy-eight, used to be a pretty fair calf roper, have worked hard all my life and never asked for the moon. If the day ever comes when I can’t take care of my horses, I’ll sell ‘em or give ‘em away to good people who’ll watch over ‘em. That’s how I feel about horses.”

1964 All American Futurity winner

“You bet, I’ll talk to you all day. Besides Walter Merrick and Jack Byers, I’m the only one that ever bred, owned, raised, trained and raced an All American winner, and I’m the first Okie to win it,” said breeder/owner/trainer W.W. Wilson.

“You ask me when I knew Decketta was All American material. I knew it straight off, and what I thought was just one word – fast.

“I’m seventy-two and have been running horses ever since I was twelve. Three times in my life I knew I was going to win before the race started. One of the times was when Decketta went into the 1964 All American gates as the underdog and led the rest, including the good filly, Steam To Go, to the wire. 

“The filly got around $134,000 for her win. At the time, I had nine dollars to my name, and it was in my pocket. Had to make do with it for three days ‘til tests were made, and the win money was handed over. I had a lot of good friends, and my credit was pretty good after that race, so I didn’t starve before I got the cash. 

“Decketta was by Top Deck out of Lady Thomas Wilson by David Thomas. I’ve still got Lady’s son, Mr. Quick by Quicksilver King. He’s twenty-five now. He was a fast horse, AAAT. He will be part of my family for as long as he cares to live.

“I’ve got a yearling, Bill Brooks, by Ichibon out of Fairly Rapid, Fairly Rapid being a great granddaughter of Lady Thomas Wilson. I’ve got a stud foal out of Kitty Doll and by Ichibon that I hope to name Itchy Cat. Maybe he’ll be my All American winner in 1982. 

“I sold Decketta in 1965 to A.B. Green. Then Melvin Hatley bought her, and sold her to the Bonifaces in California. They sold her to J.R. Adams, I think, and now she’s in El Paso with Harriett Peckham and Sarah Henderson

“One thing I want to say about Decketta. She was bred to run. I hung a bridle on her and run her clean. She was never hopped. I think hopping a horse ought to be a penitentiary offense. That’s it.”

Decketta is the dam of the late Chick’s Deck by Three Chicks, and of Chick’s Etta Deck. She lost her 1978 foal by Easy Jet, has an Easy Jet yearling, Chosen Few, owned by Sarah Henderson. Decketta now has an Easy Jet stud foal at her side and is again in foal to Easy Jet. 

After all her wandering, Decketta is home at last, in El Paso. Harriett and Sarah have no intentions of parting with her. 

Real Wind
1976 All American Futurity winner

The All American Futurity – A Cinderella Story? Not always. 

In 1974 A.D. Stowe and J.D. Kitchens bred the mare they jointly owned, Real New, to Stowe’s Go Man Go son, Go With The Wind. The result of the mating was a brown filly, Real Wind. It seems the arrangement was that Stowe would own the first two foals from Go With The Wind, and Kitchens would own the third, Real Wind. 

Stowe trained the filly. Although he was elated by her quality, the training period was a sad time for him. His wife was victim of a cancer that eventually took her life. 

Stowe took Real Wind all the way through the 1976 season to the Rainbow Futurity, which she won. Then, for private reasons, stating only that they had nothing against Stowe, J.D. Kitchens and his wife, Elsie, put Real Wind under the guidance of a new trainer, T.A. “Terry” Walker. A few weeks later, Real Wind won the 1976 All American Futurity, collecting about $330,000 as her share of the purse. 

“It’s kind of sad to talk about this over the phone,” Terry Stowe, A.D.’s son, said. “My father has terminal cancer, and we don’t know how much longer he’ll be with us.

“My father always said that Real Wind was the best filly he ever laid his hands on. While he was training her, he dreamed the poor man’s dream of winning the All American. He never got that far, but he got the Rainbow, which is something in itself. 

“Mr. Kitchens had real bad heart trouble, and it finally got him. His death was real hard on Mrs. Kitchens. I don’t think Real Wind is doing too good right now, either. She had a foal by Easy Jet, and then was bred to Real Easy Jet but aborted the foal and foundered badly. 

“So you can see that some sadness is connected to Real Wind’s story. I guess sadness isn’t what people would want to read about in a story about All American winners, but life’s that way. People keep on going on anyway. We’ve still got Real Wind’s parents, Go With The Wind and Real New. They’re doing fine.”


“Real Wind was so sad after she aborted her foal, not to mention how bad she foundered,” said Elsie Kitchens. “I was taking care of her myself, and she was always so glad to see me coming, because it felt so good to her when I changed the dressings on her feet. 

“After Real Wind quit racing, she was just like a pet dog. I knew I had made a pet out of her, and that’s what worried me when I fell down and broke my hip after she foundered. Who was going to take care of her? I couldn’t stand worrying about it. She’s in Spur, Texas, now, at the clinic with Dr. Ed Murray. I trust him completely and know Real Wind is getting the best of care. Dr. Murray says she’s on the mend. 

“After Real Wind lost her Real Easy Jet foal, she adopted a little, black filly orphan, and the filly’s with her adopted mother at the clinic now. I know the mare’s going to be alright. My hip is mending. It won’t be too long before we’re together again. 

“I love the mare and intend to take care of her until the day one of us dies.”

Savannah Jr
1965 All American Futurity winner

Oldtimers say there is nothing more beautiful that a gray horse “out front,” which is where Savannah Jr. (Everett Jr. TB-Savannah Gray, Question Mark) was in the running of the 1965 All American Futurity. The margin of his win, 2 1/2 lengths, is larger than any other wake of daylight left by an All American winner. 

Those who want to believe in the Cinderella aspect of the All American Futurity can find comfort in the story of Savannah Jr beyond the wire. Bred by J.R. Cates, owned by J.R. and R.E. Cates, Savannah Jr was trained by Ted Wells, Jr. The Cates of Tulsa are horsemen to the bone, and so is Ted. They have watched carefully over Savannah Jr. 

Ted’s share of the $192,730 that Savannah Jr won enabled him to establish Wells Ranch in Alex, Oklahoma. 

“I loved training horses, but I wanted my own spread, wanted to stay put, wanted a breeding operation. Savannah Jr gave that to me, gave me my chance.”

The Cates still own Savannah Jr, but Ted has a lifetime lease on him. Savannah Jr’s offspring have earned over $1,300,000. He is also the sire of 2 AQHA Champions and 1 Supreme Champion. He stands at Ted’s ranch in Alex. 

Galobar, Pokey Bar, Goetta
1959, 1961 & 1963 All American Futurity winners

“I really wish my son, Sid, were here, because he runs the ranch and could answer all your questions,” said Mrs. Hugh Huntley. “Of course, you know that Hugh hasn’t been well in a long time, almost ten years. This is so sad. He’s the one who owned and bred the three All American Futurity winners, and that meant so much to him, was a very special thing. The money was welcome, too. 

“Galobar, the filly that was the winner of the first All American in 1959, was by Three Bars out of Josephine R. she was later sold to buyers from Mexico. 

“Pokey Bar, who won it in 1961, is by Three Bars out of Pokey Vandy. He’s still here at the ranch with us, looks just like he always did, only older. He still poses for pictures when people come to see him. 

“If you know horses, you know that not all great racehorses – and Pokey was great – turn out to be breeding stallions. Pokey was one that didn’t. We take good care of him, and he’ll always have a home with us. 

“Goetta, Hugh’s third All American winner – she won it in 1963 – was by Go Man Go out of Etta Leo. She was sold to the 6666 Ranches in Texas. Goetta died not long ago, something that saddened all of us. She was a memorable racehorse, and she produced some good foals, too.” Her produce included stakes winner Goetta Miss and stakes-placed Sidly.  “Newton Keck trained all three of Hugh’s winners. He and Hugh always had such a good relationship. I think Newt’s in Ruidoso now.”


“It sounds like a bunch to say you trained three All American winners. I’m not saying hard work wasn’t involved, but so was a lot of luck. Galobar, Pokey Bar and Goetta – all three were good. But if I had to pick a favorite, it would be Goetta. It hurt real bad when I found out she had died. 

“When I first started in the running horse business, 220 yards was a big race. You don’t hear much about that distance anymore, and the 350 isn’t as popular as it used to be. I look for distances to get longer and longer, with more and more races from 440 yards to 870. That’s okay by me, it’s all okay by me, as long as it’s horse racing. 

“I retired from public training some time ago, due to an injury, but I’ve still got one mare of my own, and she’s a honey – Ms. Mito by Mito Paint out of Candy Bar Go by Go Far Bob. She’s four now, and still runnin’. When she’s through racing, I’m going to keep her and breed her…I’m thinking about young Bugs Alive in 75…

“You take a man like me, and ask me questions like these…it starts me thinking about the good old days. Mrs. Huntley is right. Hugh is a fine man, and he was always good to me. I wish all the Huntleys the best of everything.”

Laico Bird  
1967 All American Futurity winner

“I guess what winning the All American does is give you instant recognition. You get a chance to meet people that maybe you wouldn’t have met before. And it’s a great feeling when a ‘have not’ has a little bit for a change. Laico Bird’s take in the 1967 All American was around $228,000,” said Floyd H. Jones Jr. 

“Laico Bird was bred by B.R. Campbell. She was by Good Bird (TB) out of Paula Laico. Jimmy (Jones) trained the filly for me. 

“I’m proud to say I owned a mare like that. I don’t want it to sound like money means nothing or that her purse money didn’t help us a lot, make life a lot easier. But it was the mare herself. 

“Laico Bird was a very independent individual, wanted to go her own way and wanted you to go yours, until one day in 1971. I went out to see her. She came up and put her head under my arm. She never had done anything like that before. I got a vet to her immediately, but it was too late for surgery. She died on her feet, of a twisted intestine. 

“What I’m saying to say is, I don’t care how much the purse is, you never forget the horse that won it for you. You never forget. I’m sure J.B. Ferguson felt the same way when he lost Hustling Man and that the Stroles felt the same way when they lost Three Oh’s. 

“We’re still looking for another one like Laico Bird, and we may have it in Missy Laico Bird by our stallion, Doodle Bird out of Laico Bird’s daughter, Fly Laico Bird. We’ve also got a three-year-old colt, Mr. Laico Bird, by Tiny’s Gay out of Fly Laico Bird. He’s the one that ran away from the barn that caught on fire at Ruidoso. Headed down the Interstate with a few more horses. He was wearing a white blanket, and that’s how we spotted him from a helicopter three days later. The horses had gone way up into the mountains.”

Hustling Man  
1962 All American Futurity winner

The great Hustling Man, bred and owned by the late J.B. Ferguson, and trained by Elridge Strauss, collected $96,425 for his 1962 All American win. By Go Man Go out of Diamond Mae, Hustling Man ended his freshman year as all-time leading money earner ($106,722.33). He was outranked only by Jet Deck, Goetta, Pokey Bar and Tonto Bars Hank. 

Hustling Man, at three, took wins in the South Texas Derby trials and finals. He was then hauled to Ruidoso and died shortly after his arrival. His death was sudden, seemingly from a virus. Hustling Man was buried in a place of honor in the infield of Ruidoso Downs, beside Frankie Battles’ Champion Thoroughbred, Brigand. 

Three Oh’s  
1968 All American Futurity winner

Three Oh’s was bred by Henry R. Hurd, owned by Dr. and Mrs. Donald G. Strole and trained by Bubba Cascio. The brown son of Three Chicks out of Oh My Oh collected $160,372.80 from the 1968 All American purse. When Three Oh’s was retired from racing, he was sent to Dr. Charles W. Graham’s Southwest Stallion Station in Elgin, Texas. Three Oh’s remained at stud at SSS until his death in May 1976. He was exceptional in the stud and is counted as a leading sire of running Quarter Horses today. 

Bugs Alive In 75  
1975 All American Futurity winner

Terry Stowe defined it as “the poor man’s dream,” yet it is the All American Dream, and available to anybody. Bugs Alive In 75, trained by J.B. Montgomery and bred and owned by oilman Ralph Shebester, claimed $330,000 of the 1975 All American Futurity purse. The money was not a crucial factor to Ralph, but “The Bug’s” triumph meant everything to him. He left a hospital bed against doctors’ orders to be with the colt in the All American win circle. 

By Top Moon out of Ralph’s Lady Bug, Bug Alive In 75 stands at the Shebester Stallion Station in Wynnewood, Oklahoma. Members of his first foal crop are on track this year. The colt in the lead so far is Clever Bug, winner of the 1980 Kansas Futurity and second in the Rainbow Futurity. 

Rocket Wrangler  
1970 All American Futurity winner

September 7, 1970, a shinbucked, pinfired sorrel colt entered the eight-hole in the All American gates. Bred by Thayer Hobson, owned by J.R. Adams, trained by Bubba Cascio, he was Rocket Wrangler by Rocket Bar (TB) out of Go Galla Go by Go Man Go. :20.09 and 400 yards later, J.R. Adams was richer by $178,488, “The Wrangler’s” share of the All American purse. Again, a winner’s earnings did not mean the difference between feast and famine to the owner. 

J.R. Adams, however, can tell the world he picked a good one when he purchased Rocket Wrangler for $6,000 from the Hobson Estate. Today, Rocket Wrangler is owned by Herbert Graham, Martin Cohen and Rancho Kahana. He is the sire of Dash For Cash and a leading progenitor of running Quarter Horses in multiple categories. 

Timeto Thinkrich  
1973 All American Futurity winner

Timeto Thinkrich, bred and owned by Vessels Stallion Farm and trained by Jerry Fisher, took home $330,000 from the 1973 All American. The survival of Vessels Stallion Station did not hinge on the colt’s paycheck, but the sum made a notable deposit on permanent residence at the well-known station. Timeto Thinkrich is by Aforethought (TB) out of Chronometer. He continues to stand at Vessels’ farm in Los Alamitos. 

Pie In The Sky 
1979 All American Futurity winner

The star colt of 1979, Pie In The Sky, collected $437,500 from the $1,280,000 All American Futurity purse. A lot of money. Even so, Dan and Jolene Urschel would not have starved without it. Still, a special tone comes into their voices when they speak of Pie In The Sky. Bred by Joe McDermott, the colt is by Easy Jet out of the stakes-producer Miss Jelly Roll. Pie In The Sky’s trainer is Leo “Gogetum” Wood. 

Mr. Kid Charge  
1971 All American Futurity winner

In 1971, another sorrel colt claimed the limelight on Labor Day at Ruidoso Downs – Mr. Kid Charge, by Supreme Champion Kid Myers out of Fancy Charge by Go Man Go. Bred by A.B. Green, owned by Will Whitehead and trained by James Chapman, Mr. Kid Charge took his 400-yard win in :19.65, to become the fastest All American winner in the thirteen-year All American Futurity series. He set a New World Record in that race, and the record still stands. 

Mr. Kid Charge, purchased for $4,100 in the 1970 All American Yearling Sale, received $200,841.62 for his Futurity win – certainly a boon for his owner, Will Whitehead, of Del Rio, Texas. Will still owns Mr. Kid Charge, and the stallion stands at Richie Cox’s Homestead Stallion Farm in Anson, Texas. Mr. Kid Charge is a leading sire of running Quarter Horses in multiple categories. 

Hot Idea  
1977 All American Futurity winner

In 1977 a small brown filly took the Cinderella Story as her own and rewrote it considerably. On a heavy track but with a slight tailwind, Hot Idea broke from the ten-hole to clock 440 All American yards in :21.76. Her share of the purse was $330,000. Part of that money bailed her trainer, Gene “Tef” Tefertiller, out of financial difficulty. Tef and family were living in a camper beside their barn at Ruidoso Downs. Until Hot Idea won the Futurity, the Tefertillers were “flat busted, didn’t even have enough to get back home to El Paso.”

Hot Idea’s win was a tremendous boost for her sire’s reputation: Aforethough (TB) became the sire of two All America Futurity winners. Hot Idea was bred by Aforethought’s owner, Ed Baker, Jr. Her dam was Coquette. 

For Hot Idea’s owners, Floyd W. Jackson and Ted Bruce, the filly’s earnings provided a comfortable fund for improving their operations in Childress, Texas. Ted and Betty Bruce were in the process of building a new home. Their share of the purse money provided for many more elaborate details than were originally planned. 

Tef Tefertiller spotted Hot Idea at the 1976 All American Yearling Sale. Although she was wan and frail, and one of her front legs was definitely crooked, Tef liked what he saw and urged Floyd and Ted to buy her. They hedged. Betty Bruce, Floyd’s daughter and Ted’s wife, sided with Tef. Floyd and Ted halfheartedly made a few bids. Betty, growing restless, finally lifted her hand at just the right time. The auctioneer sold Hot Idea to Floyd and Ted for $4,000. 

Hot Idea, never known for an even temper when she was racing, is contented and mellow today. She has a Dash For Cash foal at her side and is again in foal to Dash For Cash. 

Moon Lark  
1978 All American Futurity winner

If horsemen cast votes to determine the true Cinderella in the All American Futurity series to date, the winner by a landslide would by Moon Lark. The best way to picture him is to remember the Howard clan and friends jubilantly gathered around Moon Lark in the 1978 All American Futurity win circle. 

Moon Lark’s mother, Pan O’ Lan, by Lanolark (TB) out of Hank’s Panita by Tonto Bars Hank, brings a sentimental note into Moon Lark’s story. Gerald Howard purchased her for about $1,425 and turned her over to his sons. Sam Howard bred her to Top Moon, and the result, Moon Lark, was owned by Sam, Paul and James Howard. The colt was trained by Jack Brooks. 

Moon Lark’s great-grandsire on his maternal sire, Tonto Bars Hank, won the second running of the All American Futurity in 1960. Hank, also known as “The Big Feller,” was bred by Wayne Rossen and the late C.G. Whitcomb, owned by C.G. and his son, Milo, and trained by Pat Simpson. 

Betty Nix, Administrative Assistant to AQHA Executive Secretary and General Manager Ronnie Blackwell, recalls that “Mr. C.G. Whitcomb was in our offices not long after Tonto Bars Hank won the ’60 Futurity. He laughed a little, and cried a little, while he was talking about his horse.”

Tonto Bars Hank earned his AQHA Championship after retiring from racing, became a leading sire in multiple categories and remains a leading maternal grandsire of ROM qualifiers. He died in 1976. 

As the star-spangled story of Moon Lark goes, money was a problem for the Howards. Part of the funds needed to take the colt to the All American were begged and borrowed…all in all, Moon Lark’s was a rampant, ribald and heartwarming climb to the All American purse. Worry along the way – the colt had a breathing problem and sometimes choked when he was running hard. Laughter…the colt occasionally enjoyed a few sips of beer from a bottle. The Howard men and Jack Brooks and Moon Lark plunged on. All were rewarded Labor Day, September 4, 1978, when Moon Lark took the All American Futurity 440 yards in :21.85 and claimed his share of the million dollar purse - $437,500. 

Today, the Howards still own Moon Lark. He is leased by THE MAN and stands at Merrick’s 14 Ranch in Sayre, Oklahoma. 

Pan O’Lan, Moon Lark’s mom, lives the good life close to Gerald Howard’s backyard, where Mrs. Howard can keep an eye on the mare from the kitchen window. 

Easy Date, Easy Jet 
1974 & 1969 All American Futurity winners

“You know how all of us feel about Easy Date,” said Buddy Suthers. “And she has had her problems. She foundered while she was still on the track in 1976. I think you know that since then she has had every ounce of care we could give her, and the reward is that she is in good shape, good condition. We watch her feet like hawks and change her shoes every month. I’m sure you know that Easy Date’s Futurity win in 1974 was special to all of us, because she made Easy Jet the only All American winner to sire one. Now, counting Pie In The Sky, he has done it twice. 

“We bred Easy Date to Hempen in ’77 and got a filly, Another Date, that’s running now. Joe Merrick has her in Los Alamitos. She broke her maiden, and she just may be in the All American gates come Labor Day. 

“Easy Date rested in 1978 and was bred to the Thoroughbred, Barrera, in 1979. She’s got his filly at her side now. We’re giving Easy Date another rest this year. You can bet your boots we’re going to take care of her.”

The Man and The Horse - Walter Merrick

“Cinderella story? I don’t know…I’ve never met a Fairy Godmother at a race track…I guess the biggest thrill I ever got was when Easy Date won in 1974, because she was a dark horse and nobody expected her to win it. Back in ’69, everybody expected Easy Jet to win, because I had pushed him hard, or he had pushed me…sometimes I wonder. The All American win is a big one in everybody’s books, no doubt about it. It’s a great race, a great thing, and I’m for it. But you don’t stop with one race in this business…As for Easy Jet, I say what I have always said. He is a good horse from his head down to the ground.”

Easy Jet bred, raised, trained and raced by Walter Merrick, stands at Buena Suerte in Roswell, the stallion farm owned by Walter Merrick, Harriett Peckham and Dr. Leonard Blach. Easy Jet has been listed as the leading sire in North America, all breeds included in the statistical rundown, and his foals have earned over $10,000,000. 

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