Pierre owner’s colt named champion

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Farm Forum

After 40 years in the Quarter Horse racing business, Tom Maher Sr. recently broke into the big time with his four-year-old bay which has won 10 times what the Pierre lawyer and horseman paid for him.

Recently, Maher accepted a statue horse that recognized him as owner of Hes Relentless, the American Quarter Horse Association’s 2014 racing champion three-year-old colt.

The ceremony was Jan. 21 in Oklahoma City. Maher’s brother, Bill, from Rapid City, owns a share, as well as R. D. Hubbard of California, one of the nation’s top racing owners, and Johnny Cope.

The prestigious award is based on Hes Relentless’s two years of winning the short races Quarter Horses are the best at: 440 yards, a quarter mile, as well as shorter ones, at 350 yards. He set the track record last May at Remington Park in Oklahoma City, winning by an amazing two lengths in a 350-yard race in 16.982 seconds. He came in third in the $1 million-purse Rainbow Derby last July, ridden by Cody Smith and winning $104,800.

Ben Hudson, owner and publisher of Track Magazine that covers AQHA racing, has known Maher for four decades.

“It’s great to see someone from so far off the beaten path win an award like that,” Hudson said. “He’s a real cigar-chomping character now.”

Maher and his brother often drive for 20 hours to the tracks in New Mexico and Texas and this year hope to see Hes Relentless in the $3 million purse race at Santa Anita in California.

In his two years of racing, Hes Relentless has run 14 races, in the money eight times, totaling $616,000 in winnings. Pretty good for a yearling Maher recognized right away out of a sales crop of 100 or more as a winner, paying $63,000 for the colt born in Joplin, Missouri, nearly exactly four years ago.

The award means more than just recognizing race success, though.

Hes Relentless will have a much longer career “standing at stud,” as a breeding champion and his value is just climbing, Maher said.

“Already named world champion, his stud book is mad,” he said. “Already lot of people want to sign a contract to breed to him. They were coming up to me after the awards ceremony.”

His stallion’s ancestry tells the story of the American Quarter Horse, which dates its horse back to colonial times but is celebrating the 75 anniversary of the AQHA’s breed registry this year.

Hes Relentless is in the direct line from the legendary Dash for Cash, who dominated Quarter Horse racing 40 years ago and has dominated breeding lines ever since.

Going back further, Dash for Cash’s family tree includes two legendary Thoroughbreds from about the time the AQHA began, Triple-Crown winner Whirlaway and Three Bars, whose bloodlines infused that Thorougbred speed into the chunky, muscled Quarter Horses.

That means Hes Relentless has a tremendous future after his racing present is past.

“There is a chance this horse could be syndicated,” Maher said, referring to the way 100 or more investors buy a piece of a prized racing stud. He and the other owners will decide all that after this year’s racing season.

Unlike Thoroughbred studs, which must “cover” actual mares for a proper breeding, Quarter Horse stud owners are allowed by the AQHA to collect and freeze a stallion’s semen so it can be sold and shipped all over the world to mare owners.

Top AQHA studs command fees of $50,000 for such a transaction and can father 25 or 30 foals a year. For years while being put out to pasture.

Unfortunately, Hes Relentless will never meet the mares he has foals with; only the “teaser” mares which will get him in the mood, from a distance, for what, sadly, is reduced to the “collection.”

Real love is ruled out.

“A horse of this value, you probably don’t want to take any chance of him getting kicked, Maher said.

But for another year, he and his brother and two younger generations of Mahers will watch the handsome horse burn up tracks in the Southwest.