Famous Dillon—the 8-year-old gelding that carried 21-year-old JR Dees to his first Bob Feist Invitational win June 24, 2019—is remarkable in a lot of ways.
He's dirty fast, being a son of Lions Share of Fame, whose sire is the legendary barrel racing and track producer, Dash Ta Fame.
[READ MORE: The JR Dees Story]
He was cool as a cucumber under the bright lights and booming speakers of the Reno-Sparks Livestock Event Center for the BFI, in one of his first appearances on such a grand stage.
His fast finishes helped Dees and partner Lane Siggins stop the clock in 44.62 seconds on six head, worth a whopping $120,000.
And, he's a registered Appaloosa—the first of his kind to win the BFI.
"I honestly didn't even think about him being the first App to win it," Dees said. "But it really is pretty cool. I'm just glad I get to ride him."
Dillon is out of a mare registered with the Appaloosa Horse Club only as CMF, by GW War Charger (who had a speed index of 98) and out of a Packin Sixes mare called Sixa Pack. Dees' grandfather, Kenny Ringdahl, owned the mare, and Bryel (Zancanella) Mulligan futuried her in the barrel racing. With all the run in the mare, she was super hot-natured, but Bryel, and her husband, four-time National Finals Rodeo steer wrester Sean, made it work.
"She was a race horse, and a really big, pretty mare," Mulligan said. "He purchased her based on her looks. He didn’t care that she was an App, and we never intended to breed her. Matt roped on her a little bit, too."
But one day, the Zancanella/Mulligan crew found a young stud colt named Lions Share of Fame on the internet. His full brother—a barrel horse named FM Radio—had already seen big success with Kassie Mowry, and they were on the hunt for a Dash Ta Fame-bred futurity horse, anyway.
"He was such a good-minded colt, and his mom was amazing," Mulligan said. "As long as he didn't give us any reason to cut him, we figured we wouldn't. He was so easy going and easy to get along with, and he had the bloodlines. So we had a stud even though we didn't plan on it."
The problem, though, was that they didn't have any broodmares and never had planned on a breeding operation.
"So we started with the mares we were riding, and we bred them. That’s how we started because we never intended to have a stud. It snowballed after that," Mulligan said of the beginning of what their family now calls Pride Farms, based in Coleman, Oklahoma.
The first colt out of the Lions Share of Fame/CMF cross, another solid Appaloosa named Miss Kitty, has been to the NFR in the steer wrestling, ridden by Tanner Brunner of Ramona, Kansas.
While the mare CMF died of colic after becoming a kids' horse for Ringdahl's granddaughters later in life, the Dees/Zancanella/Mulligan connection still have some Lions Share of Fame babies in the pipeline ready to roll out in both the barrel and roping pens.
"We’ve only really got to try four head that we got to make head horses out of because most of them go to run barrels," Zancanella said. "The first one we made broke his leg, but he was really nice. Junior has that one he has right now he just won the BFI on, and the other two are going to be freak awesome, too."
The Lions Share of Fame horses—Appaloosa or not—fit perfectly into Dees and Zancanella's head-horse program, so long as the ropers focus on their horsemanship over their emotions.
"We've noticed throughout the last few years, the Lions Share of Fames, have come a long ways," Dees said. "That horse I have, Lane rode him eight months ago and he didn't like him. He was green. They're real smart horses, and you know, they're different. Every Lions Share of Fame, if you're around them and you spend time with them and you make them your horse, they're good horses. But if you go out there and you beat them and you spur on them and you jerk on them, they're not the kind of horse to take it. They want to score and they run." TRJ