The PRCA's reigning World Champion Header Clay Smith is known far and wide for his iconic grey gelding Marty, on whom he won his gold buckle in 2018. But Smith has another top-horse contender just waiting in the wings, and he'll get to show him off in 2019 at the Lazy E Arena's Cinch Timed Event Championship, March 8 through 10 in Guthrie, Oklahoma.
PKR Starlight Chick—known in the Smith rig as Ransom—will get to showcase his well-honed skillset over five rounds, both under Smith and his brother Jake, who is helping in the heading on the 9-year-old gelding, too.
"For what I want to do at the Timed Event, he’ll run right to the cow and let you swing over an extra swing," Smith said. "He’s the easiest horse in the world to run in there and catch on. He’ll rate and not run through your throw."
Smith stumbled upon Ransom by chance, when his father-in-law Jason Richey spotted Lari Dee Guy on the gelding in the All-Girl at the Wildfire in 2017, where she won third. Richey was interested in the horse for his teenage daughter Halie, so he asked Smith to watch him go.
"I said, 'That really is a nice horse,'" Smith remembered. "I said I wanted to go look at him. We rode him, and he didn't fit my sister-in-law. She liked his half-brother Lari Dee had named Trick. I got on Ransom and ran three steers on him, and man I loved him. On the way home, Jason was trying to convince Halie that she should have Ransom, but she really liked Trick. We went back and looked at them again, and they wound up buying Trick. I told (my wife) Taylor that I thought we needed to own Ransom. I wasn't really looking for a horse, but I guess that's how it always ends up."
The Starlights Gypsy-bred horses like Ransom have become a staple of Guy's program, after she came across their bloodlines by happy accident. She got a call from someone who'd seen a black filly for sale on Facebook through JoAnn Parker, who owned the late Starlight Gypsy.
"A young girl told me about her," Guy, who has 13 WPRA world titles to her name, said. "But I didn't have time to go look at her, so I sent a friend. That friend called and said, 'You better get over here and look at this. There are some amazing horses here.' So we went, and in that first batch I bought five. Trevor (Brazile) and I partnered on one—Dirty Harry, who Billy Bob Brown bought and Charly Crawford rode at the NFR a few years later—and I bought Tombstone in that batch of colts, who Jake Cooper would ride a couple years later at the Finals as just a 6 year old."
Guy and WPRA World Champion Breakaway Roper and Header Hope Thompson also bought Supercrome Ink in that group, the horse that is the reigning AQHA Reserve Champion in the Senior Tie-Down under CR Bradley.
Guy, Thompson and Brazile were so impressed by the prospects they bought that day, that they went back and bought five more, and bought a few in a sale not long after. Ransom was in that second batch.
"As a 2-year-old, I could ride him around bareback," Guy said. "He was a cool, gentle and a real pretty horse. You just knew he'd make. He was always going to score and always real willing to do whatever. I sent him to a friend of mine here in town. He ranched on him, he rode him in the sale barn and used him. Then I just got him back and headed on him. I got him going. I roped some calves on him and got to where he'd lock on to the calf. I got him going really good. Trevor rode him and got him to the next level, then he sent him back, and I finished him. That's when they saw him. I told Trevor he messed up selling him. But that's what we do."
Brazile did end up trading the Richeys back for Trick, though, who he will steer rope on when he competes in late 2019.
"They just make so easy," Brazile said. "They've got everything you need in one."
Brazile and Guy are in the process of breeding to an all-black son of Starlights Gypsy, a full brother to Thompson's Ink. And they're even tracking down some frozen semen of the late stud because of how successful each colt of his they've ridden has been.
"Ransom is perfect for the Timed Event because of how well he scores and how well he runs to the steer," Guy said. "You just need a horse that, really, has all the tools and does none of them bad. Everything he does, he does good. There's not one thing. He scores good, he runs good, he pulls good, he faces good. If you did it on stats, he has the best stats out there. There might be horses that run faster, face better, pull better, but his are good at everything. That's a special trait he has—he's good at it all." TRJ