By Tara ChristiansenThe American Quarter Horse JournalNovember 3, 2012
This ad reads, “Blue, if tears could build a stairway, and memories a lane, I’d walk right up to heaven and bring you home again. You came into our lives and left hoof prints on our hearts. For that, dear gentle giant, you will never from us part.” (Ad courtesy of Kelly Graphics LLC)
Regarding Skys Blue Boy, many have wondered what inevitably caused the death of the legendary 19-year-old stallion. Unfortunately, it was founder that took him from all of us on October 30, announced owners Ray and Linda Monaco of Prosperity, Pennsylvania, in a Journal exclusive interview.
Bred by Robert and Kathy Fitzpatrick of Chicago, Skys Blue Boy was by Sky Blue Walker and out of Millie’s Dancer (TB) by Marshua’s Dancer (TB). Ray and Linda, who have been breeding Quarter Horses for 16 years, knew from the start that the gray stallion had the potential to shape the industry and swiftly added him to their barn, and to their family.
“I picked him out as a long yearling,” Linda recalled. “When I first laid eyes on him, he was in an arena and he was trotting toward me. And I got goosebumps. I knew I was looking at a future star. I just knew it.”
Started by West Virginia trainer Todd Durig, “Blue” spent his 2-year-old year trail riding along the Ohio River. As a 3-year-old, Skys Blue Boy became an instant favorite of trainer Patti Robertson.
“Right from the get-go, Patti had so much belief in Blue that she felt that he would be the next sire of hunter under saddle horses like Zippo Pine Bar was for the pleasure,” Linda said.
With Patti in the irons, Blue racked up two All American Quarter Horse Congress wins in hunter under saddle, the 1997 AQHA year-end high-point hunter under saddle stallion title, plus reserve year-end high-point awards that same year in junior hunter under saddle and hunter under saddle. Also in 1997, Blue finished his AQHA Superior in hunter under saddle. With $9,978 in National Snaffle Bit Association, $1,333 in AQHA World Championship Show and $2,178 in AQHA Incentive Fund earnings, Skys Blue Boy’s limited show career was only scratching the surface of his true potential.
While he was still hitting the show trail in 1997, Blue made a few trips to the breeding shed, Linda said. However, “we limited his book because he was still showing.” She added, “We always limited his book because we believed in quality, not quantity.”
The first Skys Blue Boy foal crop hit the ground in 1998, and he sired 14 additional foal crops for a total of 642 registered foals at the time of his death.
Those foals have made quite the name for themselves, earning 314 AQHA registers of merit. Skys Blue Boy’s 266 point earners collectively have earned 21,344.5 points, which has helped garner their sire monthly top-10 rankings on AQHA leading performance sires lists; in 2007, Skys Blue Boy became an AQHA leading performance open division sire.
At the time of his death, Skys Blue Boy had sired seven AQHA world champions that had earned 22 world championships. Additionally, he boasted 15 reserve world champions with 21 reserve world championships, plus seven year-end high-point champions with 14 year-end high-point titles. His foals have earned $230,541 in NSBA and $123,568 in AQHA World Show competition, and $357,160 in Incentive Fund earnings.
“He is the sire of 205 world/Congress champions and reserves,” Linda said. “That includes AQHA, National Snaffle Bit Association, American Paint Horse Association and Appaloosa Horse Club wins. That’s very impressive. You can’t say that about many.”
Some of the latest notable achievements, out of the many, by Skys Blue Boy’s American Quarter Horse offspring include:
For Linda, the response from Skys Blue Boy fans in the wake of his death has been overwhelming.
“People are saying he truly was a legend and one of the greatest ones ever,” she shared. “There were people who said, ‘He is a legend,’ and the legend thing probably was the biggest.” With Linda, that sentiment struck home.
As she sat in her office on November 2, photos and paintings of Skys Blue Boy surrounding her, Linda forced herself to look outside at the broodmares she had coupled with the gray stallion. The mares, who include Rain For The Roses, the dam of Congress champion Deep Blue Skys, and Royality In Blue’s dam, Lady Luck’s Gamble (TB), are part of what Linda refers to as the “Blue family.” Every night, Linda goes down to the barn to tuck in the “broodies,” as she affectionately calls their mares. And when she does, she’s reminded of the memories of all the “Blues” that she and Ray raised that went on to become world champions.
Linda’s found strength in the support of the horse community. To have her phone ring off the hook with condolences, and a Facebook wall clogged with an outpouring of support, Linda is reminded of the good in humanity and in her fellow horsemen.
“I cannot get over the response probably because I’ve been in this business a long, long time. But I think what I found there is still a lot of kindness.”
Even though Skys Blue Boy was euthanized on October 30, Linda wanted graphic designer Kelly Barnes to have ample time to design a memorial ad that provided the perfect summation of Blue’s impact on the Monacos’ lives. It took Kelly a day to design, but the result was perfect, Linda said. When the ad was released online, so was the news of Skys Blue Boys’ death.
The ad reads, “Blue, if tears could build a stairway, and memories a lane, I’d walk right up to heaven and bring you home again. You came into our lives and left hoof prints on our hearts. For that, dear gentle giant, you will never from us part.”
While Blue is running free in the big blue skies of heaven, Linda said, one earthly progeny will carry on his legacy.
In regard to Its All About Blue, the Skys Blue Boy son who stands at Gene Parker Farms, Linda said, “We purchased him because we felt he would carry on his father’s torch – and he would walk in his hoof prints.”
And although Its All About Blue has some big hoof prints to fill, Linda believes enough in her eye to know an industry-changer when she sees one. After all, the goosebumps Linda got when she first laid eyes on Skys Blue Boy were right.
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