Reiner February 2011 : Page 74

MILLION DOLL AR SIRE Gallo Del Cielo has stamped his get with his beauty and athletic ability. JOHN BRASSEAUX

Million Dollar Sire–Gallo Del Cielo

Gavin Ehringer

Gallo Del Cielo


NRHA's newest Three Million Dollar Sire is Gallo Del Cielo.

Gallo Del Cielo (Spanish for "Rooster from Heaven") himself never earned reining dollars. The bay stallion was bred by National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) legend and $3 million-plus career money-earner Lindy Burch and her partner Dan Lufkin at Oxbow Ranch. Lufkin named him for a favorite song penned by Tom Russell and performed by Canadian folk and cowboy singer Ian Tyson.

"Rooster," as he's always been known, enjoyed modest success in the cutting game. But his biggest impact would be as a sire of winning reining horses.

Even a casual reader of Quarter Horse pedigrees can see that Rooster's breeder aimed him toward cutting fame. Born in 1989, Rooster is by AQHA and NCHA Hall of Famer Peppy San Badger and out of NCHA Hall of Famer Doc's Starlight by Doc Bar. But like his full brothers including NRHA Million Dollar Sire Grays Starlight, and Paddys Irish Whiskey, Rooster proved to be an adept switch-hitter. In part, his success as a reining horse sire is the result of a quiet, but willing disposition, which he imparts to his offspring.

"He's a beautiful horse," said Burch. "There never was a horse with a better disposition. We never had a nicer stallion to be around than that horse."

Frank Merrill, a legendary horseman renowned for his ability to see and nurture equine potential, felt that Rooster would do well as a 'cross-trainer' and sire of both cutting and reining horses. According to Burch, "Rooster was just a little too big for the average cutting horse. So, we began pursuing reining horse mares and getting reining trainers on his colts."

Merrill eventually stood the horse at his Windward Stud in Purcell, Oklahoma. At age eight, Rooster passed into the hands of the Polo Ranch of Ardmore, Oklahoma. Owned by the Joseph and Karalyn Rovocable Trust, Polo Ranch already stood Grays Starlight and was in need of another stallion to handle breeding duties among their broodmares.

The ranch owns Rooster to this day and deserves the bulk of credit for steering the stallion's outstanding breeding career. But according to Susie Reed, who co-manages breeding at Polo Ranch with Shane Wilson, the true credit goes to Gallo Del Cielo himself.

"He went this direction, and he did it all by himself," said Reed. "We're cutters. We've never trained a reining horse. But with the help of so many reining horse owners who showed an interest in breeding to Rooster and promoting and training his offspring, [his progeny] made it to the three million dollar sire mark. It's pretty amazing."

Amazing indeed. Rooster's get have been a stellar crowd. Among his outstanding progeny: 1999 NRHA Futurity Open Reserve Champion Roosters Wrangler ($125,656 LTE); 2000 NRHA Futurity Open Reserve Champion Ricochet Rooster, ($148,708 LTE); and Lena Gallo the 2008 FEI World Reining Champion who leads all of Rooster's offspring with $176,058 in NRHA lifetime earnings.

Among the most memorable performances of a Rooster offspring was the 2003 debut of Brazilian native Thiago Boechat, an NRHA Professional who placed in three divisions of the NRHA Open Futurity aboard Roosters Tru Luck. The $50,996 payoff was the first NRHA earnings credited to Boechat.

According to Reed, it's the ability of his offspring to shine when the money's on the line that keeps Rooster among the leaders in the reining horse breeding game.

"[Rooster's progeny] make money for people and that's why people breed to him. You need the numbers out there to consistently be a winning sire," she said. "His success is in his consistency as a sire. I don't know how many people with colts for sale like to say, 'He looks like a Rooster!' He is very strong and consistent in passing on his traits to his offspring. And that's the mark of any great breeding horse."

Gallo Del Cielo's Top-Performing Offspring

Lena Gallo$176,058
Ricochet Rooster$148,708
Chic N Roost$125,960
Roosters Wrangler$125,656
Gallos Stylish Star$95,196
Northern Enterprise$90,480

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