Travis Graves and his family bid farewell to Startime Diablo—known across Graves’ big wins as Superstar—June 13.
The bay gelding is the horse that made Graves’ career. In 2005, he won the USTRC’s U.S. Open in Oklahoma City roping with Matt Sherwood. As a 21-year-old, it signaled Graves’ entrance into the big time. Then, in 2007 he won the Wildfire Open to the World with Colter Todd, then won it again in 2009 with Turtle Powell and in 2010 with Clay Tryan.
“He taught me what the feel was of a great horse was,” Graves said. “Everybody gets that one horse that’s really good or great, and you want to make all the others to get that feel again. He taught me what I liked. The way he made the corner, to never, ever taking your throw away. I felt like I wasn’t going to miss every time I rode him. I was in the same spot every time. He never got me.”
David and Iva George bred and raised the 1994 grandson of Dry Doc, and in 1996 sold him as a 2-year old to Bruce Guthrie, who in turn sold him to Graves’s father, Ronnie, the next year. Graves took him over, and he won the Junior World on him just two years later.
“The first time you saw him, you knew he was special,” Graves said. “He was beautiful. He was the perfect size, and he had a lot of personality. I have so many memories with him.”
Named the Heel Horse of the BFI in 2008 and twice the runner-up for the AQHA/PRCA Horse of the Year, Superstar came out of retirement in 2017 to help Graves at a few rodeos behind Chad Masters. But he’s mostly carried Graves’ kids, Tee and True, since then.
“He’s lived in the pasture with Manny and Baby Doll since 2017,” Graves said. “We’re all really sad. The kids rode him a lot, and he meant a lot to all of us. There wouldn’t have been a me without Superstar.” TRJ