In the immediate aftermath of Wimpys Little Step’s triumph on the center stage of the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity in 2002, the owners of his sire, Nu Chex To Cash, received an offer they couldn’t refuse.
“We were offered $1 million for him,” said Hilldale Farm’s Tammye Hutton, her voice at times tailing off trying to corral her emotions. “We got together and said he doesn’t owe us anything. We owe him everything. So, we kept him. I promised him then that I would take care of him until he died. So, we did. We wouldn’t be where we are today had it not been for him.
“We owe him everything.”
“Chex” was humanely euthanized on March 14, an arthritic condition in his knee becoming too burdensome to carry on.
The palomino stallion, an NRHA Three Million Dollar Sire and Hall of Famer, was 30. He was laid to rest at home, lying next to his son, Night Deposit Chex, Hutton said.
“He just kind of gave up,” said Hutton. “We kept him as long as we could.”
Chex left behind a legacy in stone as a significant player in the history of the NRHA.
Chex was by Nu Cash and out of Amarilla Chex (by Bueno Chex). Bred by Margaret Drown, of Santa Ysabel, California, the stallion had much success in the show pen from 1993 to 2002, with an Equi-Stat record of more than $65,000.
In 2002, Chex and Jessicah Keller, then only 17, won World championships in the Intermediate and Limited Open. He was also Non-Pro and Intermediate Non-Pro Reserve World champion.
“That horse taught me more than maybe any horse I ever had,” Keller said. “He pretty much put me on the map as a competitor.”
He was as durable as bronze. Charlie Hutton, Tammye Hutton’s husband, showed him more than 400 times, she said.
Chex is the only horse in AQHA history to win reining and working cow horse point titles in the same year.
Of that 2002 season, Keller said: “He was a 72 or 73 every time he walked in the pen. He was that way all year. He was just incredible.”
That same year, Chex emerged as a major sire for Hilldale Farm. Wimpys Little Step (out of Leolita Step), won the All-American Quarter Horse Congress Futurity Open and NRHA Futurity Open under the guidance of NRHA Six Million Dollar Rider Shawn Flarida.
In addition to Wimpy, Chex sired Lil Joe Cash (out of RS Lilly Starlight), a winner of more than $290,000 as a performer, according to Equi-Stat, the 2011 NRHA Futurity Open champ. Another son, Big Chex To Cash (out of Snip O Gun), was the Reserve NRHA Futurity champion in 2005 and Reserve at the NRHA Derby two years later on the way to almost $220,000 in lifetime earnings.
The next three years, Keller won a non-pro NRHA World titles on See Chex To Cash, Nu Tivio Chex and Night Deposit Chex.
“He had winner after winner after winner after winner,” said Keller, who estimated that half of her Equi-Stat record of more than $900,000 came on Chex offspring.
Two of sons have gone on to lucrative careers of their own as sires.
The most recent NRHA Million Sire of the boys was Big Chex To Cash. The star is Wimpy, an NRHA $11 Million Sire, and father to 18 NRHA Open and Non-Pro Futurity champions and six NRHA Open Derby champions.
In all, Chex sired 276 performers for an Equi-Stat record of $3.6 million for an average of $13,334.
Other notable earners among Chex’s offspring include:
Nu Chexomatic $191,334
Hot Smokin chex $189,574
NMSU Truckin Chex $185,329
Heavy Duty Chex $143,801
Night Deposit Chex $111,181
Chex went sterile at 17, Keller said. In his retirement, he has been essentially “a pet around the farm,” she said.
“He was a character, now,” Tammye Hutton said. “He loved being scratched.” So much so that it wasn’t below him to ask anybody for a stroke of fingernails.
“He was just a pet around the farm,” Keller said. “My routine every morning was to feed him his treats and scratch on him.
“It’s really hard to look at the empty stall.”
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