Coy's Bonanza

This horse-breeding legend was more than just a pretty face.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

Bill Moomey admired Sparky Joann as a great performance mare. “Bill Coy, who owned Sparky Joann, and I rodeoed together, and I knew the mare real well. She was a really good using horse,” Bill recalls. “Ed Honnen, who owned Jaguar, was a very close friend of mine. So we got Bill (Coy) to breed ‘Sparky’ to Jaguar.” The result was Coy’s Bonanza. Allegedly after first seeing the foal, Coy told his wife they had hit a bonanza. “That’s how he got his name,” Bill says.

In January 1961, “Coy” was consigned to the Rocky Mountain Quarter Horse Association sale, which was held in conjunction with the National Western Stock Show. “I went to that sale because I wanted the horse, but I couldn’t afford him,” Bill says. “Ed Coppola of Des Moines, Iowa, ended up buying him for $3,950.” Ed sent the stallion to Dean Landers in Des Moines to be shown in halter. During his 2-year-old year, Coy had seven grand championships, 10 reserves and 13 firsts. In his 3-year-old year, Coy was sent to Pat Thompson to be trained for the racetrack. However, the stallion shin-bucked, and he was sent back to Dean. In 1963, between March 16 and December 7, Coy showed 53 times, gathering 40 grands, 13 reserves and 44 firsts. By year-end, he had 110 halter points and was named the 1963 high-point halter stallion.

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That mental note that Bill made at the Denver sale was now up front in his mind. He called Dean with an offer to buy the horse. Dean took the offer to Ed, and the deal was made. Bill’s dream of owning Coy had come full circle. Bill sent Coy to Keith Moon, where the stallion earned his Register of Merit in reining, western pleasure and western riding, and eventually his AQHA championship. Bill then put Coy back on the track, and on April 2, 1967, at Will Rogers Downs in Claremore, Oklahoma, Coy won a 350-yard race in :18.13, earning him his AAA rating. Coy finished his racing career with American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas at Centennial Racetrack in Denver and was then retired to stud. “I took a page out of Jess Hankins’ book when he had King,” Bill says. “King colts were hot. Everyone had to have a King, and there were King-bred horses everywhere. I used to think, ‘What if you didn’t breed to outside mares. What if they had to go to Jess to get a King colt?’” So that’s what Bill did with Coy. “I had total control, and I was very selective. Some people said I had the best broodmare band in the country.”

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All the foals were priced the same. “I first started out getting $5,000 the day they were weaned, and then I eventually upped the price to $10,000 a colt.” Bill had about 20 broodmares and many of the foals were sold before they were born. “They were in such demand because there were a limited number of them and they were winning a lot, so I would just take names,” Bill says. Of the 228 foals from 16 crops, 26 were AQHA champions, five were youth champions, 112 earned 4,633 points in halter, 23 had Superior halter awards, 117 earned 4,248 performance points, and 73 had performance Registers of Merit, while 24 had Superior performance awards. Coy also produced five race starters that earned $2,825 and two Registers of Merit. “Coy was one of a kind,” Bill says, “one that would take your breath away.” As equine artist Orren Mixer described Coy when he was painting his portrait, “He has the look of an eagle. When you set him up, he looks like he is trying to see over the next hill.” This article appeared in the Journal in 2008. Coy’s Bonanza was inducted into the Wisconsin Quarter Horse Association Hall of Fame in 2002, and Bill Moomey was inducted in 2006. Aside from his life in the Quarter Horse industry, Bill is an internationally recognized artist with a passion for landscapes and wildlife.