Lucky Blanton’s Tom Mattart
The enduring legacy of Lucky Blanton and Tom Mattart.
Rope horse trainer Tom Mattart
Tom Mattart, pictured in 1960, is responsible for training and breeding one of California’s greatest rope horses in the 1940s and 1950s. | National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum/ DeVere Helfrich photo

In 1942, California’s Tom Mattart bought a racing Quarter Horse named Lucky Blanton and turned him into a rope horse whose get is still winning checks today.

In the years since Tom Mattart’s 1936 Lucky Blanton and his get began dominating California’s famed arenas and local indoors alike, the written word has been largely devoted to the well-minded, hossy hindquartered AQHA stud, but the man atop the horse helped develop the rope horse we know today.

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“Tom bought Lucky Blanton at a claimer’s race” Joyce Vieira said. “He took him to his 4,000-acre ranch in Monterey and he trained him to be a calf roping horse and a team roping horse.”

Vieira, 82, began riding horses for Mattart—her senior by 28 years, and then married to a woman named Phyllis—when she was a teenager. The daughter of Joseph and Dorothy Vieira, who remarried later to Edward Mosby, grew up working their famed indoor, the Mosby Arena.

“The Walt Woodards and Allen Bachs of the world were there, and everyone else when it rained,” offered Senior Editor Kendra Santos.

A Passion for Rope Horses

Mattart was born on June 26, 1913. He lived in the Salinas area for some 90 years before moving to Vieira’s Gilroy ranch. The longtime friends were married and Mattart spent his final years there until his passing in 2007 at the age of 94.

In between, Vieira and Mattart were rope horse fanatics.

“He talked about Lucky a lot,” said Vieira, who was born the year before Mattart made his famed purchase. “We’d go to a place called Jimmy Rodriguez’s over in Salinas and we’d jackpot there and, if they had a mixed roping, we’d win the mixed roping.”

Rodriguez owned Lucky Tom—an own son of Lucky Blanton—who, before being sold to Hawaii’s iconic Parker Ranch, was a go-to mount for 1946 RCA World Champion Team Roper Chuck Sheppard when he was competing at Salinas.

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Lucky Blanton was bred by Arizona’s Burns Blanton. By Mark and out of Gold Nugget 3 by Lucky 6, he was heavy on the Traveler lines and had his start in racing. 

“The speed index,” Vieira said when asked what about the horse appealed to Mattart. “Tom was a great guy and a good cowboy, and he worked. He rode that horse on that 4,000-acre ranch…. He had his own cattle and he probably gathered cattle on him and went and used him as a cow horse.”  

Vieira recalled Mattart’s patience as a horseman.

“It was probably a year before he started actually training him to be a calf horse and a rope horse,” she said. “That’s the kind of guy he was. He didn’t try to jam it in his brain, too much stuff at one time.”

Lucky Blanton’s Lasting Legacy

At Lucky’s peak, Mattart was breeding about 45 mares per year to his star stud, and it didn’t take long before his progeny were joining him in the roping arena. Inducted into the 2011 California Rodeo Salinas Hall of Fame, Lucky Blanton competed in the iconic rodeo under Mattart beginning in 1947. Then, in the 1954 rodeo, 13 of the ropers entered were all astride Lucky Blantons. 

When Mattart sold the horse in 1959, Vieira suggests it was for better money than Lucky had already produced in his 23 years. The senior sire died in 1960 and is buried near Henefer, Utah. His last foal, Barbara Blanton, was born in 1961 and, in the years since, Lucky Blanton has become legendary, cited as one of California’s most prolific performance horse sires. 

In fact, 60 years later, in 2022, Texas’ former AQHA President Johnny Trotter headed for $70,000 in the Ariat WSTR Finale on Lucky’s great-grand-get Spikebuck Luck, and Wyoming breakaway roper Charity Hoar won the Mountain States Circuit Finals aboard Hesa Lucky Bandit, who shares Spikebuck Luck’s paternal line to Short Go Luck, Lucky Blanton’s grand-get. There’s also a well-populated Facebook group page called Lucky Blanton Bred Horses.

A True Cowboy

Mattart’s own lifetime contributions remained in California. He was the caretaker of that 40,000-acre ranch and, like a true cowboy, he loved branding season the most.

“Tom always rode the best horses,” Vieira said, noting the pride Mattart took in being invited to other ranches. “He was a guy that was known for roping a steer perfect: every time around the horns, pulling his slack and getting a dally and never ducking his horse.”

[READ MORE: Why the Numbers Matter: Tracking Rope Horse Earnings]

 A Cattleman’s Association cardholder and a PRCA Gold Card member, Mattart also was on the California Rodeo Salinas board for 40 years. 

“He used to get up at 3 in the morning to feed his horses and leave his ranch to go separate cattle for the slack at the Salinas Rodeo for the whole week of the rodeo” Vieria remembered.

Today, his legacy lives in the continued success of thick-hipped, good-minded get of the one that never lost a race.

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