Staunch Avenger, TB – Dream Machine
Written by Christie Miller, Published in the November 2000 issue of Barrel Horse News.
The Thoroughbred stallion, Staunch Avenger, was fast. Really, really fast.
He had the horsepower to break fast and hard from the gates, and hold that lead to the wire. Undefeated as a 2-year-old, the 1968 bay stallion was favored to win the Kentucky Derby before he was injured.
“He could run a mile,” said Staunch Avenger’s former syndicate manager, retired veterinarian Dick Shepherd of Denton, Texas. “I never got to watch him run, but they said he led all the way. He was a very fast starter and never looked back. Staunch Avenger was by far the fastest 2-year-old in his year. At Arlington Park in Chicago, he set a record for five furlongs. I know this record held at least 10 years ago; he may still hold the record today.”
Kentucky bred, Staunch Avenger was by Staunchness, a son of 1967 Preakness winner Bold Ruler, by Nasrullah. An eight-time leading sire, in 1973, Bold Ruler was inducted into the Thoroughbred Hall of Fame. Staunchness was out of Tiny Request by Requested, and was a black type winner of $125,069. Staunch Avenger was his leading earner.
The Thoroughbred stallion Agreement was a paternal grandson of Staunchness. By Over Arranged, Agreement sired Special Agreement, a 1981 brown gelding. Special Agreement, aka “Brown.” Is owned by National Finals Rodeo contender Deb Mohon of Gladewater, Texas. Special Agreement is out of Shesa Leolena, a granddaughter of both Leo and Flit Bar.
“I never saw Staunchness,” Shepherd said of the 1962 stallion. “He died young and only sired two or three foal crops. I never saw Staunch Avenger’s dam, either.”
Staunch Avenger’s dam was Careless Miss. Foaled in 1952, she was by Revoked and out of Miss Carlaris by Carlaris. After accumulating $44,800 on the track, Careless Miss produced six foals. Staunch Avenger was her only foal sired by Staunchness.
“I believe a man named Ralph Mann bought Staunch Avenger in Kentucky and raced him,” Shepherd said.
Staunch Avenger accumulated an impressive race record, earning $294,486. He was a stakes winner of 15 races.
“Bunker (N.B.) Hunt of Dallas, Texas, bought Staunch Avenger from Mann,” Shepherd explained. “Bunker bought him as a breeding sire and did not race him. He bought him because of his speed. He bought him for Texas – he never took him to Kentucky. Bunker was a son of H.L. Hunt. Bunker was a big oil man, a huge Thoroughbred breeder back then. At one time, he owned 800 Thoroughbreds .he had ranches all over the country. Bunker bred a lot of good horses; was a wonderful man, an acclaimed breeder and owner. He took Staunch Avenger to the Circle T Ranch at Roanoke, and he was there fro 1974-76, then Bunker moved him to Aubrey and syndicated him.”
Shepherd was Staunch Avenger’s syndicate manager at Classic Manor near Aubrey. In 1975, Staunch Avenger’s stud fee was $1,000 and by 1988 it had risen to $1,500.
“Bunker syndicated him because he wanted to get away from a lot of outside horses coming to his training center,” Shepherd said. “There were 35 or 36 different syndicate members, including Bunker. There were 40 shares – a few had more than one share. Most were Thoroughbred breeders; only one or two were Quarter Horse breeders.”
According to Shepherd, Staunch Avenger bred 40-50 mares every year, mostly Thoroughbreds. However, records show that Staunch Avenger sired 284 American Quarter Horse Association – registered foals; the last 14 were registered in 1993.
“Staunch Avenger was a really pretty horse,” Shepherd said. “And his foals tended to be nice horses. He had a wonderful disposition. A really nice horse to be around. Very personable. He didn’t have any bad habits, never kicked or squealed. You couldn’t whip or crowd his foals too much, but if you wouldn’t push them or get rough with them, they’d try real hard. He was a predominant bay sire. His daughters were real pretty mares. They’d usually have one or two white feet, white on their faces. Really striking. Staunch Avenger was a particularly fertile horse, a good breeding horse, and had good foals.”
Enter Barrel Racing
While it was mostly Staunch Avenger sons – like Top Avenger, Silent Reflex, Avenger M and Avenging Gossip – that boosted his reputation as a race horse sire, most of the credit goes to his daughters for his reputation as a barrel horse sire.
And it is on Equi-Stat’s Top 50 Maternal Grandsires, list that you will find Staunch Avenger’s name. Ranked 12th (as of April 2000), Staunch Avenger has two grandget earning a total of $44,372 from barrel racing. They are DJ Nick Bar and Rough And Tumble.
In 1997, Staunch Avenger ranked third on this list. Earning over $92,000 were Willy Nick Bar, Rough And Tumble and Krimps Dream Jeans.
Owned by Angela Shepherd Hammond of Interlachen, Fla., Krimps Dream Jeans is a 1992 brown mare. Her sire is Krimps Go Getum (Go Dick Go x Louisiana La, Sickem Boy), and her dam is the Staunch Avenger daughter, Staunch Wrangler.
In 1982, Michael and Susie Davidoff of Plano, Texas, bought a 1981 bay Staunch Avenger daughter named Mystical Avenger. Out of the Triple Chick daughter, Nina Triple Chick (Nina Fax, Fairfax Joe), Mystical Avenger was destined for the track.
“We bought her for a race prospect from Mike and Connie Blackburn,” Davidoff said. “She ran AAA. Officially, she had a speed index rating of 93; unofficially, she had a speed index of 103. Then she got hurt coming out the gale. Dale Youree made a pretty nice barrel horse out of her, but she was just a little bit hot. We bred her to our stallion, Dr Nick Bar (Flit Bar out of Este Tag, Leo Tag).”
Now owned by Shelton and Diane Taylor of Ponder, Texas, Dr Nick Bar proved to be an excellent cross on Mystical Avenger.
Mystical Avenger has produced two sons that set the barrel racing world afire – Willy Nick Bar and DJ Nick Bar.
“Dena (Kirkpatrick) has another full brother, Scratchy Nick Bar, and we’ve got a coming 2-year-old as well, as yet unnamed,” Davidoff said. “He’s still uncut, and we can’t decide whether to geld him or not. He’s got a white diamond above his knee.”
The Davidoffs were drawn to the Staunch Avenger horses because they liked their speed.
“We really like the cross with Dr Nick Bar,” Susie said. “He tends to put such a sound mind and ability on them. We saw Staunch Avenger – he was good looking, real Thoroughbred looking. Tall, big, fast. Mystical Avenger has a nice big rear end on her. She’s just beautiful, a halter-type mare.”
DJ Nick Bar is owned by Kirkpatrick, a barrel horse trainer and Women’s Professional Rodeo Association member from Post, Texas. Willy Nick Bar is now owned by WPRA member Amanda Clayman of Naylor, Mo.
At the May 1997 Old Fort Days Futurity, Kirkpatrick guided Willy Nick Bar to ninth place, earning over $10,000. There were 1,179 entries. Willy Nick Bar and Kirkpatrick graced the cover of the February 1998 issue of Barrel Horse News beneath the headline, “Willys World.” The duo outran 489 entries to earn $64,228 and the championship at the December 1997 World Championship Barrel Futurity in Oklahoma City, Okla. They smoked off runs of 15.471 (fastest time of the Futurity) and 15.487.
Two years later, Kirkpatrick was creating more barrel-world shockwaves astride Willy Nick Bar’s full brother, DJ Nick Bar. In May 1999, they placed third in the Old Fort Days Futurity. In December 1999, they placed 14th at the World Championship Futurity. Soon after earning his championship, Willy Nick Bar, better known as “Trey,” was purchased by Clayman.
“Trey is the most forgiving animal in the world and will do anything I want him to do,” Clayman said. “He’s so well-mannered. He hauls good, eats good. I’ve been real happy with him. He runs like he has one gear. It’s amazing to be on a horse that won’t quit. I’ve been rodeoing on him this summer and in the past two weeks, have won about $3,000 on him alone. I said I’d take a whole year of second place to get where we are now. He was turned out last winter, and he hasn’t been bumping barrels. It’s pretty amazing. Kappy Allen told me it’d take me a year and a half to get with him, and it has.”
At the 1999 NBHA Colonial National Championship in Lexington, Va., Anna Lowe of Clemmons, N.C., piloted Rough And Tumble to victory in the Open 1D =, outrunning 611 entries.
By Marthas Six Moons, Rough And Tumble is a bay gelding out of Staunchy Darlin by Staunch Avenger. A 1981 bay mare, Staunchy Darlin was out of Horton’s Darling, a paternal granddaughter of Leo San.
Crystal Moore, Temple, Texas, garnered an 18th-place finish at the June 1999 Speedhorse Derby. Her mount was the 1993 chestnut mare, This Bugs An Avenger. Out of Lady Muffin by Bugs Alive In 75, This Bugs An Avenger was sired by the Staunch Avenger son, Top Avenger, TB.
Top Avenger ran in the 1981 Kentucky Derby, which Dick Shepherd watched.
“There was a huge field of horses, 22 I think,” he said. “He came out early and just took off, he just couldn’t hold the lead. He couldn’t go a mile, but he set new fractions for the Kentucky Derby at the quarter, the half, and the three-quarter mile when he ran in it.”
Other Staunch Avenger Sons
Rudy Rudibaugh of Gunnison, Colo., owns the Staunch Avenger son, Pauls Victory. The AQHA Appendix-registered stallion is out of Sugar Bar Sissy by Sugar Bull.
According to Valerie Rudibaugh of Poolville, Texas, her father-in-law, Rudy, bought the stallion as a yearling.
“My husband wanted more speed and size in their horses in Colorado, so they bought him from a relative in Texas,” she said. “Pauls Victory stands in Colorado.”
Pauls Victory has a full brother, Staunchy Avenger. This 1997 black stallion’s last recorded owner was Helen Browning, Euless, Texas.
Valerie Rudibaugh and her husband stand Jens Star Victory, a dark bay son of Pauls Victory. Now 6, the AQHA Appendix-registered stallion is out of Dixies Bar Lee (Baehler’s Bob x Lee Bar Lou, Lee Bar) The Rudibaughs are crossing him on their mares of Poco Bueno, Little Britches, Flit Bar, Dixie Paul and King Ranch breeding.
“We feel the Staunch Avenger horses have strengthened the Quarter Horses’ athletic ability,” Valerie said. “Their disposition is just amazing. Jen’s first foals will hit the ground in 2001. We raised him, and he was born on our place in Texas.”
Rudibaugh has been running barrels on Jens Star Victory.
“Our first year out, he won the second division in our NBHA district,” she said. “In 1998, he qualified for the NBHA World Show, then he hurt a foot and was out for almost a year. He has a big heart and you can do almost anything with him. Even when he hurt himself, he didn’t quit. I really like the Staunch Avenger line, because crossed over with Quarter Horse mares, it brings on the quality people are looking for – the speed, temperament and disposition. I’ve heard lots of good things about Staunch Avenger.”
The Rudibaughs also rope off the stallion.
“He’ll run indoors or outdoors, and he’s quiet, not goofy.” She said. “I’m getting him back into shape and running.”
They raised and recently sold a half brother to Jens Star Victory, named Wimpy Star War.
“He’s heading up to the futurity this fall and I’m tuning him up,” Valerie said.
The Staunch Avenger son, Virgil Vengeful, was formerly owned by Pat Cole and stood at the Moehrig Ranch in Seguin, Texas. The stallion recently sold to a California buyer (the transaction has yet to be recorded). Virgil Vengeful possesses a speed index of 105 and accumulated race earnings of $80,008. His dam is Windy Sis by Windy Nevada, TB.
Staunch Avenger Broodmares
In the Dec. 3, 1999 issue of Speedhorse magazine, a 15-year-old Staunch Avenger daughter, Staunch Pleasure, was listed for sale. She didn’t last long. Said her former owner, Debbie Holt of Pledger, Texas, “We had quite a few calls on her. A Thoroughbred breeder bought her.”
Once or twice a year, a Staunch Avenger daughter passes trough the Heritage Place Sale in Oklahoma City. Such was the case of Avenging Star, rated SI 102, a 1987 bay mare out of Surprised Go by Go Moon. In 1999 she was purchased by Vickie Adams of Collinsville, Texas, owner of Fire Water Flit.
An Unequaled Sire
By the early 1990s, Staunch Avenger began having some heart problems. Shepherd sent him to Dr. Kent Carter at Texas A&M University, where he was given medication and monitored.
“I found him dead in his stall early on a Saturday morning when we’d stopped on our way to a ballgame,” Shepherd said. “That canceled the ballgame. I guess he had a heart attack. He died September of 1992. He’d had a full season that year, and bred about 40 mares.”
Shepherd had tried to prepare for the inevitable loss of the stallion.
“I’d started looking in 1985 for a horse good enough to replace Staunch Avenger, and I looked until 1995 and never found one,” he said. “I had stallions, but never one that could equal him. I had a great run with him for a long time. I’m still getting checks for stallion awards on that horse. They aren’t much, only like $70, but it just shows how great a horse he was, and the impact he had on the industry.”
Shepherd’s affection and respect for Staunch Avenger continued after the stallion died.
“I buried him at Aubrey on my ranch (Classic Manor) under two pecan trees. I’ve threatened to put a plaque on one of those pecan trees,” he said. “I already know what it would say: ‘Because he came this way, dreams came true.’”