The reining world lost one of its own when the great Topsail Whiz had to be humanely put down on Dec. 23, after complications from surgery to repair damaged vertebrae in his spine. The sport’s first and only Six Million Dollar Sire transformed the industry and helped to define the modern reining horse.
Owner/breeder and Hall of Famer Bob Loomis said of his Hall of Fame stallion: “He wasn’t just any horse; he was a member of the family. There will never be another one like him.”
Tragically for Bob and his wife Pam, they had just put down their Whiz son and junior stallion, West Coast Whiz, a few weeks earlier, due to founder. December has not been kind to the Loomises.
Loomis said he noticed problems with Whiz last spring, but the stallion made it through breeding season just fine. Then, in late summer/early fall Loomis realized Whiz was having difficulties with his balance. It wasn’t until the day after the NRHA Futurity, Dec. 6, when Bob really saw some changes in Whiz and immediately took him to Weems and Stephens Equine Hospital in Aubrey, Texas. There, veterinarians diagnosed him with a rare condition affecting the C6 and C7 vertebrae in the horse’s lower neck, which were pinching on his spine. Surgery was the only option to relieve the problem.
“I flew in Dr. Barry Grant, the leading equine neurosurgeon in the country, for the surgery,” said Loomis.
Dr. Grant (from Bonsall, California) and Dr. John Janicek (of Weems and Stephens) performed a successful ventral intervertebral body fusion on Whiz Dec. 17. The horse was recovering nicely when he suffered severe complications that caused him to have to be euthanized a week later.
“We did everything we could to save him,” said Loomis, “but we couldn’t.”
Topsail Whiz is buried under some pecan trees in front of the new barn Bob and Pam have built on their newly constructed facility, just down from the original Loomis Ranch in Marietta, Oklahoma.
Loomis has 22 years of fond memories of the 1987 son of his other Hall of Fame stallion, Topsail Cody. But his favorite moment on Whiz was winning 1991 Lazy E Classic, in Guthrie, Oklahoma.
“The pen is so big there,” he said. “Few horses can run to a stop as hard as they can go and nail it, but Whiz could. He was so physical, like his dad, just like all the Joe Codys were.
“I knew he was going to be great after the second time I rode him. I had sold him to some Germans when he was younger, and when I asked them to price him, they did so at five times what they paid me for him. I never hesitated and wired them the money. It was the smartest thing I’ve ever done.”
Indeed. Topsail Whiz offspring are quickly coming up on $7 million in earnings, just around $200,000 shy of that mark.
One of the amazing things about Whiz is that he “crossed well on everything,” said Loomis. “He would breed just about anything and come up with a futurity finalist.”
Loomis credits Whiz’s prepotency to the cross he made between Topsail Cody (NRHA Futurity Champion) and Jeanie Whiz Bar (AQHA Superior Reining). Topsail Cody contributed his strength, athletic ability, and big stop, while Jeannie Whiz Bar donated her gorgeous looks, low-headedness, and quiet, laid-back temperament to a bloodline that has dominated the reining scene in the last decade.
In fact, Loomis, a self-described mare-side fanatic, gives Jeanie Whiz Bar the credit for transforming the Joe Cody line.
“I had to show against her many times,” explained the six-time NRHA Futurity champion. “She was ridden by a 15-year-old boy (Tom McBeath), who’d win in the youth classes and then beat the pros in the open. It was a humbling experience. So I eventually bought her for my broodmare band.”
Counted among Whiz’s top get are The Great Whiz and Easy Otie Whiz, both earners of over $200,000. His $100,000-plus earners are Whizard Jac, Remin Whiz, Topgun Whiz, West Coast Whiz, Walla Walla Whiz, Whiz N Tag Chex, Wrangle Whiz, Holymasterwhiz, and Conquistador Whiz.
But it wasn’t only in aged-events where the Whizzes left their mark. They were top-notch open horses and solid non pro mounts. A look at the 2009 NRHA world champions tells the story: Star Spangled Whiz (open champion) and Malt Whizkey (non pro reserve champion). The following were in the top 10 in both open and non pro divisions: Laredo Whiz, Cracker Jack Whiz, Gold Card Whiz, Great Kid Whiz, Whizashingingwalla BB, The Magic Of Whiz , Honeymoon Whiz, Chex Out Whiz, Peppy San Whiz, Otter Bea Whiz, and Whizin In The Dirt.
“He was a once-in-a-lifetime horse,” said Loomis. “I was a lucky man to have had him.”
Loomis had just purchased Cromed Out Mercedes and will cross him on his Whiz daughters. Loomis is offering frozen semen on both Topsail Whiz (not shipped) and West Coast Whiz for the 2010 breeding season.
Photo credit: John Brasseaux