This Whiz Shines, who gained fame as a lead pony for Thoroughbred Triple Crown Champion American Pharoah, is consigned to the Twombly Performance Horse Sale in Fort Worth, Texas. The sale will benefit charity. * Photo by Kelsey Pecsek Hruska.

Smokey, American Pharoah’s Lead Pony, to Sell at Will Rogers

The former reining horse that traveled the country as the lead pony to Thoroughbred Triple Crown winner American Pharoah is slated to sell at Will Rogers Memorial Center during the National Cutting Horse Association Futurity.

This Whiz Shines, better known to the public as “Smokey,” is one of 32 head entered in the Twombly Performance Horse Sale on Saturday, Dec. 5.

John Twombly said Smokey, who was shipped to the family’s ranch in Western Nebraska a few months ago, is extremely well-trained and extremely easy-going. The horse was familiar to the Twomblys, as they were the ones who sold the 2009 buckskin gelding to Bob Baffert, American Pharoah’s trainer, six years ago.

“He is so broke and so gentle, and I mean anybody can get on and ride him and get along. He just kind of takes care of everybody,” he said, then laughed. “He’s been more places than I have, [and] seen more than I have.”

This Whiz Shines, aka “Smokey,” was the lead pony to Triple Crown Winner American Pharoah. He will sell in this year’s Twombly Performance Horse Sale in Fort Worth. Proceed benefit charity. * Photo courtesy of Twombly.

The Bayard, Nebraska-based sale company annually sells a group of select, broke geldings during the National Finals Rodeo. Typically, that sale is held in Las Vegas. However, due to the NFR’s move to the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area in 2020, this year’s sale is being held at Will Rogers Memorial Center.

The sale focuses on extremely broke, very gentle geldings. Last year, the sales-topper at Twombly’s sale held in conjunction with the NFR was a 4-year-old buckskin gelding that sold for $150,000.

“All of the horses in the sale have rode miles and miles out on the ranch trails, [and] they’ve been around cattle,” Twombly said. “We basically are selling to families and people that want something really broke and really gentle.”

Viewers can watch and bid online through Superior Livestock.

Smokey’s Reining Days

Bred by Lori Waters, Smokey is a son of Shiners Tex Olena and out of the mare Si Rositas Whiz (by Whiz N Chex). He is a grandson of Shining Spark and a great-grandson of Equi-Stat Elite $12 Million Sire Topsail Whiz.

He competed in reining prior to achieving fame on the racing stage, winning roughly $1,300 with trainer Jarvis Anderson in the saddle for then-owner Waters, of Livingston, Montana.

This Whiz Shines, aka “Smokey,” during his reining days with trainer Jarvis Anderson. He competed in reining prior to being sold to Thoroughbred racehorse trainer Bob Baffert. * Photo by Waltenberry.

According to Smokey’s online sale listing, the gelding’s exploits in life as a reiner, riding horse and lead pony have resulted in a solid equine citizen.

“The Bafferts have flown him all over the world in Air Horse One as American Pharoah’s sidekick as well as Bob’s personal riding horse. Smokey kept American Pharoah, winner of the Triple Crown, focused and calm,” the sale’s listing said. “As famous as he is, he is still down to earth. He has been on some of the biggest stages and has never failed to put on a performance.”

Old Friends

Proceeds from Smokey’s sale will benefit Old Friends Equine, a retirement farm for Thoroughbred racehorses. Many of the farm’s retirees are noted geldings and pensioned breeding stallions.

One of the headliners at the Old Friends main farm in Georgetown, Kentucky, is former Baffert trainees Silver Charm — who won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Dubai World Cup — and three-time Santa Anita Handicap winner Game On Dude.

Old Friends also has an additional farm in New York State.