Athena Puddy Cat, a 14-year-old cutting stallion who earned $282,636 as a performer and had sired earners of more than $690,000 heading into this year, died suddenly on Monday, Jan. 13, following surgery on Jan. 10 to remove an enterolith.
The stone had been found the day before the surgery, said Steve Adams, breeding manager at EE Ranches Stallion Station in Whitesboro, Texas. The 2000 stallion, by High Brow Cat out of the Doc Athena mare Athena Accent, appeared on his way to weathering the surgery but suffered complications the following day. “We lost him Monday. He just didn’t respond,” Adams said. “He had been a picture of health up until then.”
Jim Bilbrey, of Pikeville, Tenn., bought Athena Accent from Bryan and Julie Stewart, of Mesquite, Texas, while she was pregnant with Athena Puddy Cat. Bilbrey sold him to James and Suzanne Thomas’ Lazy Suzan Ranch, Savannah, Tenn., as an early 4-year-old.
Athena Puddy Cat and trainer Brad Mitchell, then based in Tennessee, made the Open semifinals of the 2003 National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Futurity with first- and second-round 217 and 216 scores to earn $4,663. The horse and Mitchell also earned $123,495 during the stallion’s 4-year-old campaign by finishing near the top at several major shows. Trainers Neil Roger and Matt Gaines and the horse’s then co-owner Suzanne Thomas all competed well with Athena Puddy Cat as he earned another $84,790 as a 5- and 6-year-old cutter.
Bilbrey then bought him back as a 7-year-old, and the horse continued on with a fruitful breeding career. Athena Puddy Cat then got off to an extremely hot start in 2005 with his first foal crop, which included Itawtathenapuddycat (x SR Miss Peppory x Doc’s Hickory), who earned $281,595, Athena Nuff (x Betsy Lena Star x Lenas Star), who earned $101,521 and Lost Wages Cat (x Dox Miss N Gold x Miss N Cash), who earned $86,446. They remain his top earners. Overall, he’s produced 32 foals that have earned a combined $691,840 through 2013, according to Equi-Stat.
The stallion’s best years as a breeder were potentially still ahead, Adams said. “He’s got a large 3-year-old crop out there that everybody’s really excited about. We felt like this was probably going to be the year that would put him over the top. It’s disappointing to have lost him so early in his career.”