Dan Urschel Dies

Dan Urschel died September 16.


Longtime horseman Dan Urschel died September 16.

Longtime horsemen Dan Urschel, 72, died Tuesday in a Canadian, Texas, hospital. He suffered a stroke on September 3 at his ranch near Canadian where he and his wife Jolene had returned from Ruidoso the night before. The couple was the third leading buyer at the Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale over the recent Labor Day weekend.

Dan was born February 22, 1942, in Newton, Kansas, to the late Mr. Lester Bud Urschel and Mrs. Mary Kharlottie (Sisson) Urschel. He was a 1959 graduate of Canadian High School. He then went on to attend Dallas Christian College and later Frank Phillips College. He married Jolene Norris on February 25, 1960 in Sherman, Texas. He was a member of the First Christian Church and a lifetime member of AQHA.

Over the last 40 years, Dan and Jolene Urschel have won nearly every major Quarter Horse race in Ruidoso and campaigned the industry's only Triple Crown winner. The couple has long had a strong faith in God and Dan would give all the glory to God when being interviewed following every big win.

As early as 1973, they won their first of an unprecedented four Rainbow futurities with homebred mare Flying Rockette, campaigned with Dan's mother Mary Urschel. Dan had the breeding to Rocket Bar (TB) and his mother owned the dam Fly Straw. Dan's father passed away shortly after that and they took a short break from racing before reentering the business in 1978 when they purchased a six-figure yearling filly by Easy Jet at the All American Yearling Sale in Ruidoso.

They began their assault on Ruidoso racing in 1979 when Pie In The Sky, a son of Easy Jet, won the All American Futurity that year. The following season they won the 1980 Rainbow Futurity with Mighty Deck Three and finished second (by the closest margin in history) to Higheasterjet in the All American Futurity.

In 1981 Dan and Jolene paid the highest price in history for a 2-year-old American Quarter Horse when they shelled out $1 million dollars for a son of Raise Your Glass (TB) after he posted the fastest qualifying time for the Kansas Futurity (now the Ruidoso Futurity), the first leg of the Ruidoso Triple Crown. That horse was Special Effort and he would go on to not only win the Kansas Futurity but also take the Rainbow Futurity and win the All American Futurity by the largest margin in history (3 ¼ lengths) on Labor Day. The young stallion had been syndicated for $15 million prior to winning the All American Futurity. He became one of the industry's leading sires and leading broodmare sires and was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame.

Over a three-year span from 1979 to 1982 The Urschels won the Kansas (Ruidoso) Futurity (twice), Rainbow Futurity (twice), All American Futurity (twice) and the Kansas (Ruidoso) Derby, They also won the first running of the Heritage Place Futurity in 1981 with Jumbo Pacific.

The Urschels were instrumental in putting together the Faberge Special Effort Futurity, which was the industry's first $200,000-added race for 2-year-olds and the final leg of the California Triple Crown at that time. Millie Vessels of Los Alamitos Race Course, the Barry family of Faberge and the Urschels underwrote the race.

The Urschels put together one of the best broodmare bands in the history of Quarter Horse racing with the purchase of such mares as champions Miss Thermolark, Lady Juno, and Pass Over, along with Pan O Lan, the dam of champion Moon Lark, and All American Futurity winner Possum Jet, to name a few.

In 1983 they dispersed most of their mares in a sale that grossed $4.2 million and averaged $54,000 per head. Lady Juno was the high-seller for $500,000.

Leading sire Strawfly Special, a son of Special Effort out of Fly In The Pie, was bred by the Urschels and became the first AQHA embryo transfer foal to win a Grade 1 race.

In 2005 they purchased half-interest in Leading Spirit, a paternal grandson of Special Effort from the late Barry Thompson. Leading Spirit won the Ruidoso Futurity (G1) and Rainbow Futurity (G1) and was named champion 2-year-old gelding. He would go to win the Bank of American Challenge Championship (G3) at Los Alamitos as a 5-year-old and earn $811,413.

Earlier this year Dan and Jolene purchased champion sire Desirio, a son of Strawfly Special, who is expected to stand the 2015 season at JEH Stallion Station's Oklahoma-Division.

The couple's great-granddaughter, 12-year-old Kharlottie Grace, became the sixth generation from the Urschel family involved in Quarter Horse racing when she campaigned the 3-year-old CR Tukernuck, who was a finalist in the Ruidoso Derby (G1) and Corona Cartel Stakes this season.

Dan never lost his dream of winning another Triple Crown. He was working on that dream until the week before he died. Dan and Jolene began to put together their 2015 2-year-old racing stable over the summer. They bought a Carters Cartel half-sister to multiple stakes winner Fast Prize Jordan privately, then purchased the TQHA Yearling Sale high-seller, the First Down Dash filly Yellow Rose B, for $250,000 in July. At the just-completed Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale they were the third-leading buyer with four yearlings totaling $480,000. Among those were two six-figure yearlings, a Tempting Dash colt for $235,000 and a Walk Thru Fire filly for $200,000.

Dan is survived by his wife Jolene; his daughter Dana Pinkston and her husband Todd of Canadian; Ken Urschel and wife Christin, of Canadian. Eight grandchildren, Danielle Miller of Denton; Greg Urschel, of Denton; Ryan Pinkston of Canadian; Bailey, Reese, Logan, Victoria, and twins Taylor and Daniel Urschel, all of Canadian; and two great-grand children Kharlottie Grace Urschel and Giovante Miller both of Denton.

Dan was preceded in death by a son Gregory Dan Urschel and his parents Mary and Lester Urschel.

Memorial services will be at 2 p.m., Saturday, September 20, at the First Christian Church in Canadian with Tim Todd, officiating and John Miller, assisting. A private burial will be at the 3-Bar-D Ranch under the direction of Hughs Funeral Home of Canadian.

The family suggests memorials to Hemphill County Hospice, 1020 South 4th St., Canadian, TX 79014 or Truth For Youth Bible, 505 Good Hope Road, West Monroe, LA 71291.

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