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Lucks EasyFanta Boy ~ Supreme Effort ... Supreme Achievement

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Lucks EasyFanta Boy 
Supreme Effort ... Supreme Reward
AQHA's 46th Supreme Champion

On the track “Fantaboy” clocked AAA times in 8 starts
  at four different distances (from 330 to 440 yards)

Reprinted with permission from "The Supreme Report" ~ September 2003

"Life is not tried,  it's just merely survived if you're standing outside the fire"  ~ Garth Brooks.

Lucks Easyfanta Boy was bred in Oklahoma by Paul Travis whose intent it was to produce an excellent racehorse. Little did he know at the time that his strapping son of QH racing’s 1982 World Champion Aged Stallion, Lucks Gay Chick (SI-104) and Easy Fantacia (a stakes winning/stakes producing daughter of multi-World Champion and Hall of Fame stallion Easy Jet) would go on to make AQHA history by becoming that Association’s 46th Open Supreme Champion and the first stallion in nearly 19 years to earn the Quarter Horse world’s highest honor. 

In 1987 Travis sold his supremely bred colt (then a yearling) to Robert Wiseman and his son Mike who promptly shipped him back to their home state of Michigan to begin preparation for what they expected would be a profitable racing career. 

Under the guidance of highly successful Quarter Horse racing trainer Carol Retelle and her jockey husband Richard, Lucks Easyfanta Boy easily won his first race and went on to clock eight AAA times (6 more than the 2 required to qualify for an Open Supreme Championship) at four different distances from 300 to 440 yards, and posted a career best Speed Index of 99 (only one index point below that of his legendary broodmare sire, Easy Jet). 

The Wisemans continued racing Lucks Easyfanta Boy into his 4-year-old year before deciding to sell him to Ed and Cindy Henderson of Ironton, Ohio, who were in the market for a race-bred stallion. The Hendersons believed that "Fantaboy" would be the perfect addition to their breeding program and in early 1990 hauled him to his new home at Blue Diamond Ranch where would spend the next 13 years. However, instead of retiring the magnificent chestnut to stud, the Hendersons decided to load him into yet another “starting gate.” Only this time, the finish line would be located 7 years and several thousand miles down the track. Instead of exploding from the gate and running full speed in a straight line, "Fantaboy" soon found himself being “rated” and deftly guided down a circuitous course that would ultimately weave its way through arenas in Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, Ohio and West Virginia. 

Doing It The Hard Way

Earning an AQHA Open Supreme Championship in any era is arguably the most difficult achievement in all of sports (human or animal). What makes "Fantaboy's" accomplishment so remarkable is the fact that he didn’t begin competing in Open Halter and Performance classes until 17 years after the AQHA held their first World Championship Show in 1974. 

All but two AQHA Open Supreme Champions (the other being the great gelding Gotum Gone) had earned their titles before the World Championship Show concept had fully ushered in the age of one-dimensional (event-specific) horses bred to chase world titles in a single event.

Lucks EasyFanta Boy - the world's only living Supreme Champion Stallion

Lucks EasyFanta Boy - Photo taken in 2003
In the Halter arena Lucks Easyfanta Boy earned a total of
14  Grand and 11 Reserve Championships.

Unlike their 44 predecessors, Lucks Easyfanta Boy and Gotum Gone found themselves forced to compete in Halter classes against horses bred exclusively for that purpose. The same was true in Reining, Roping, Working Cow Horse and other classes where they were pitted against horses who (over several generations) had been selectively bred for the physical traits best suited for those singular forms of competition. They were also competing in front of judges, who by that time, had become narrowly focused on what the ideal Halter horse should look like and how Performance horses in their various disciplines should look, move, and in far too many instances, how they should be bred. Yet despite the added degree of difficulty, Lucks Easy Fantaboy more than proved himself up to the challenge.

It didn’t take long for the Hendersons to clearly see the greatness and all-around potential displayed by their newly acquired “ex-racehorse” and they were determined to give him the opportunity to be all that God intended him to be. To that end, Ed spent the next two years hauling and showing "Fantaboy" in Halter classes where he earned his required points and stood Grand Champion 14 times (12 more than required to be named Supreme Champion). He also stood Reserve Champion another 11 times, a fact that Ed attributed “to his own inexperience as a halter exhibitor and not to any shortcomings of his horse.”

By mid-1992 Lucks Easyfanta Boy had successfully met two of the four criteria required of a Supreme Champion...AAA speed and Grand Champion halter conformation. Now it was time to prove himself in the performance arena. There was, however, a major obstacle to be overcome. By their own admission, the Hendersons were “just working people” which meant that "Fantaboy’s" training fees and show costs would have to be paid for out of his earnings in the breeding shed. It also meant that he could only go to trainers and to shows in between breeding seasons. 

"Fantaboy" did his part and over the next few years the Hendersons sent their multi-talented stallion to a trio of trainers who would enable him to earn the performance points needed to complete his Supreme accomplishment. The first was Bob Johnson of Burns, Tennessee, whose job it was to turn "Fantaboy" from a racetrack “tornado” into a show ring “cool breeze.” Later that year Johnson hauled "Fantaboy" to Kentucky where the pair won the very first Working Cow Horse class they entered and placed second in the first two Roping classes (Dally Heading) they entered at that same show.

Following the next breeding season, roper Larry Darnell successfully showed "Fantaboy" in a number of Heading, Heeling, Steer Roping and Working Cow Horse events. The next year, Stewart Crowe of Glenwood, Georgia, took over the reins and after only three days in the practice pen set out across Florida and Georgia where the two managed to earn all but one-half point of the total needed for the versatile stallion to finally realize his Supreme dream. However, there were mares back at the Henderson’s ranch in need of "Fantaboy’s" services. The dream would have to wait a few more months. 

In 1988 Lucks Easyfanta Boy had taken his first strides toward Quarter Horse immortality. Now, at the end of the 1997 breeding season, Ed Henderson offered his friend Woody Taylor the honor of riding him into the AQHA history books. Three days after picking up his new mount, Taylor and "Fantaboy" hit the road for a Reining show in West Virginia where they not only won the class, but completed the great stallion’s nine-year-long quest.

The Hendersons were both thrilled and relieved that their Supreme trail ride had finally come to an end and they planned to retire Lucks Easyfanta Boy to permanent stud duty and race a few of his offspring. The future looked promising as for the first time in its 61-year history, the Purina-Mills Equine Research Facility in St. Louis decided to breed their mares to an outside stallion (you guessed it) and private mare owners also came calling as never before. 

Following one breeding season at OSU’s Ohio Horse Park, "Fantaboy" returned to his Oklahoma roots and spent a breeding season at the legendary Roy Browning Ranch in the care of that facility’s highly skilled and respected breeding manager, Richard Joneson. However, at the conclusion of the 1999 breeding season, the Hendersons abruptly shipped Lucks Easyfanta Boy back to their Ohio ranch where they planned to stand the world’s only living Supreme Champion stallion themselves. Their apparent intent was to maximize profits by eliminating stallion station costs. Unfortunately, they also eliminated their advertising budget for the upcoming breeding season and over the next two years suffered the predictable consequence. Then in 2002, Ed suffered a stroke and became gravely ill leaving his wife to manage not only their stallion’s breeding career but the entire ranch operation as well. Through no fault of his own, "Fantaboy’s" promising stud career suddenly ground to a halt and this magnificent embodiment of the ideal Quarter Horse faded from the public spotlight and into virtual obscurity.

A New Beginning

Enter novelist and horseman J.D. “Jim” Wells who, along with wife Tina, own Cedar Creek Ranch in Onalaska, Washington. For several years Wells had owned Seekers Seventy Six, a Palomino grandson of Supreme Champion Goldseeker Bars whom he used on his own broodmare band and also stood to outside mares primarily in the Northwest region of the country. 

The consistently well-made, athletic and versatile foals produced by Seekers Seventy Six eventually prompted Wells to take a closer look at his stud’s extended pedigree, as well as the pedigrees of the mares to whom he had been bred, and he began to see a common denominator. That common denominator was their Supreme Champion and Supreme Champion producing blood and Wells figured that if a little Supreme Champion blood could produce so many excellent horses, then adding more Supreme blood to his breeding program was definitely the right way to go. What he didn’t know at the time was just how far he’d have to go to find it.

Wells recalls: “I asked around looking for information on where to find Supreme Champion stallions but most everyone I talked to was unfamiliar with AQHA’S Supreme Champion Award Program. I was a really surprised since the program had been in existence since 1966. Folks knew all about AQHA’S recent World Champions and last year’s Superhorse, but nobody had a clue about the Open Supreme Champion Award or its significance as being the highest honor a Quarter Horse can earn.”

Wells got another surprise when he finally called the AQHA for help and learned that there were only two living Open Supreme Champions and that one of them was a gelding. “That sure narrowed down my choices,” he laughed.

In February of 2002 Wells attempted to contact the Hendersons about breeding several of his mares to Lucks Easyfanta Boy but his numerous calls went unanswered and his messages unreturned. “I couldn’t imagine why a stallion owner would be so hard to contact,” he remembers. “I finally decided that I couldn’t wait any longer so I bred my mares back to Seekers Seventy Six.” But Wells wasn’t about to miss the opportunity to add "Fantaboy’s" legendary bloodlines to his long-term breeding program. 

Late one night in February 2003 Cindy Henderson finally answered the phone. “She sounded exhausted and depressed,” said Wells. “We talked for over an hour about my goals and aspirations and all the reasons I wanted to breed to her stallion. Only then did she tell me about Ed’s recent stroke and of his losing battle against cancer. She was devastated and told me that among the many sacrifices she was being forced to make, she needed to find a new home for "Fantaboy" and offered to sell him to me. I was blown away.”

Wells talked things over with his wife, Tina, and within a few days found himself on a plane bound for Ohio. “All the way there I kept telling myself that despite the Henderson’s tragic circumstance, my own financial circumstance required me to be a tough buyer and to haggle with her to get the price down a bit.” With that remark he laughed. “I walked into "Fantaboy’s" stall where he and I spent several minutes just staring at each other. Some tough buyer I turned out to be. I didn’t bother checking his feet or looking at his teeth. I just turned to Cindy and said I’ll take him. He was that impressive.”

Once back home, Wells and his wife immediately launched an advertising campaign designed to revive their new stallion’s stud career. Jim quickly rearranged his busy schedule, hitched up his horse trailer and headed back to Ohio leaving Tina to manage the ranch and ready a stall for their new family member.

On March 6th Wells loaded "Fantaboy" onto his trailer and began the 5-day trek to what he insists will be the stallion’s permanent home in the Great Northwest. “The trip was going very smoothly,” he recalls, “and by the third day we were already in Wyoming. That’s when my cell phone rang. It was Cindy Henderson calling to tell me that Ed had just died.” 

Back On Center Stage

The 2003 breeding season was nearly one-third over when "Fantaboy" arrived at Cedar Creek Ranch and his new owners wasted no time shifting their ad campaign into high gear. The response to his arrival in the area was both immediate and electric. Within a week "Fantaboy" found himself the invited guest of honor at two of the West Coast’s largest horse shows including the prestigious Western States Horse Expo in Sacramento, California, where he was chosen by the show’s promoters to represent the American Quarter Horse breed along side the finest available specimens from numerous other breeds. Soon thereafter he appeared on the cover and in a feature article published in the July 2003 issue of Northwest Horse Source Magazine. He’s since received an invitation from the North Florida Open Horse Show Association to be their honored guest at that Association’s November 2003 Annual Championship Show and a similar invite to attend the Florida Quarter Horse Association’s Annual Labor Day Futurity Weekend.

Wells and his wife weren’t surprised when they started receiving calls from all over the country. “People from as far away as Virginia, Connecticut and Florida were calling to congratulate us on our acquisition of "Fantaboy" and wanting to book breedings to him.” What they weren’t prepared for were calls from several folks who had suffered a bad breeding experience due to the stallion’s previous owners’ health and other problems. “We got calls from a few people who were downright angry for a variety of reasons having nothing to do with the horse himself. Some of them had good reason to be upset and they were demanding that we make things right. I made it clear to them that even though neither we nor the horse were to blame for their problems, we would do whatever we could to help. That’s exactly what we’ve done and about ninety percent of them have since decided to breed to "Fantaboy" again because he’s such an outstanding individual.”

As a sire, Lucks Easyfanta Boy has more than proven his supreme prepotency by producing versatile foals who have won on the racetrack, at halter and in the performance arena. On the track his offspring include multiple stakes winners and stakes placed runners, futurity winners, Register of Merit earners and a New Track Record Holder. In the arena his get have won in Halter, Longe Line Futurities, Western Pleasure, Pole Bending, Jumping, Hunt Seat, Barrel Racing Futurities, Reining, Roping, Pleasure Driving and Dressage. 

Throughout his career "Fantaboy" proved himself to be a great competitor. He has also proven to be an equally great sire by consistently passing along the conformation, real speed, versatility and physical toughness that enabled him to become the first AQHA Supreme Champion Stallion since Goldseeker Bud (by Goldseeker Bars) in 1979. And while there has only been one Supreme Champion to sire a Supreme Champion, there are many who believe that with the help and support of his new owners, that’s about to change. 

Spread the word … Lucks Easyfanta Boy is back!

Copyright (c) 2003 The Supreme Report. All Rights Reserved.

Related Reading:
The Rise and Fall of the AQHA's Supreme Champion Award Program
Where Do Supreme Champions Come From? 
Kid Meyers - the First Supreme Champion
What The Real American Quarter Horse Means To Me ~ Paul Mattson

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