Arthur Corte didn’t realize it at the time, but the first Open-level cutting horse he ever owned, Desire Some Freckles, would be a once-in-a-lifetime horse.
It started in her 4-year-old year, when the mare Corte and his wife, Beverly, had purchased with friends about a year earlier in the name of Rockin 5 Ranch LLC won several championships with trainer Sam Shepard. She picked up steam at age 5 and then, at age 6, finished with a flourish by taking the prestigious National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Summer Spectacular Classic/Challenge Open title.
Her more than $210,050 in show pen earnings was just the beginning. As a broodmare, Desire Some Freckles went on to foal winners of more than $1.6 million and become one of the all-time greats.
Looking back, Arthur and Beverly joke that back then they thought all horses were as successful as the mare they owned through Rockin 5 Ranch LLC.
“We thought that was the way it was supposed to be,” Arthur said Thursday, Nov. 18, about a week after the difficult decision was made to put the 26-year-old mare down. “We found out real quick, because we had a lot of other horses after her, that that’s not the way it’s supposed to be.”
The outstanding show mare and producer was euthanized last week due to infirmities of old age. Though they are confident it was the right thing to do, the Cortes will miss the mare that reigned supreme most of her life at their property near Fairhope, Alabama.
“She would whinny when she was ready for her hay or her [favorite treat] shredded carrots, and her daughter was right next door to her and she knew she was the queen,” Beverly Corte said, her voice filled with emotion. “But, [she was] just sweet as she could be. Loved people, loved children to come pet her and she just had not only great athletic skills, but she had the heart of a champion.
“Just a good horse.”
Bred by Carol Rose, of Gainesville, Texas, Desire Some Freckles was born to be good. She was a daughter of the great Freckles Playboy and out of Genuine Desire, a winning daughter of Genuine Doc from a stellar female family who would eventually produce the winners of more than $650,000.
In addition to the $1.6 million in progeny earnings Desire Some Freckles would eventually add to that maternal line, her half sister Playguns Desire (Playgun x Genuine Desire), would illustrate the family’s propensity to produce great broodmares with another $895,000 in progeny earnings.
Trainer Austin Shepard showed Desire Some Freckles a few times over the years for Rockin 5 – which today includes the Cortes, Kenny McLean and Suzie McLean – and had a front-row seat to her career under the guidance of the man who rode her in most of her shows, his father, the late Sam Shepard. The mare fueled her ownership group’s passion for the sport, and the Shepard family eventually relocated to Rockin 5’s facility east of Mobile Bay to train.
“Dad had a lot of success on that mare early on, not as much as he did her 5- and 6-year-old years, but the success that he had on her really gave those guys the itch for us to move down to Baldwin County, which is where we live now [near the neighboring city of Summerdale],” he said. “So that mare, she basically changed the course of our life.”
Desire Some Freckles was an incredible athlete, Shepard said, adding she was a typical Freckles Playboy progeny in that she was a little inconsistent as a 3-year-old and 4-year-old, but the light switched on when she got a little older.
He said that seemed to happen at at age 5 at the America’s Greatest Cowboy competition in Augusta, Georgia, which was a cutting horse event that featured head-to-head match-ups instead of a traditional format. The mare got better and better as the show went on, and won.
“She was just a special once-in-a-lifetime horse for [dad] and for Rockin 5,” Shepard said. “Luckily, hopefully, you get to ride a lot of really nice horses, good horses. You don’t get to have great horses in your life very often, and she was one of the greatest mares that ever lived in my opinion.”
Though the Cortes said Rockin 5 was approached from people wanting to buy the mare, the group kept her and raised babies. As a mother, Desire Some Freckles produced 31 money-earning performers of $1,666,332, ranking her ninth all-time among cutting dams, as recorded by EquiStat.
She’s also the number one dam in the history of the NCHA Summer Spectacular horse show and seventh in the history of the NCHA Futurity, based on progeny earnings recorded in EquiStat through the 2020 editions of those shows.
Her leading earner was Breeders Invitational Derby Open Reserve Champion Thundercat, a son of High Brow Cat who won more than $307,654 while competing in Open and Non-Pro events.
Her second-leading earner, Desires Little Rex, was the NCHA Futurity Open Reserve Champion and later was the Open Reserve Champion in the NCHA Super Stakes Classic. A son of Smart Little Lena, Desires Little Rex earned more than $287,519.
In 2014, her third-leading performer, Desiresomemettalic, was born. The daughter of Metallic Cat has won $181,514 with top finishes such as the Classic/Challenge Open win at the Southern Cutting Futurity show and multiple finalist performance at cutting’s major events.
The lifetime totals for Desire Some Freckles could continue to climb, as she still has foals showing and she has foals that haven’t entered training yet. Two of them, a 2019 colt by Hashtags (Desire Some Tags) and a 2020 filly by Metallic Cat (Desire Some Sterling) are consigned to the Western Bloodstock Limited NCHA Futurity Sales.
Her grandsons and granddaughters also have inherited the family’s winning ways. Her daughters have produced the winners of $1.7 million and her sons have sired the winners of more than $300,000.
Member of the Family
Even considering all she did as a show horse and a broodmare, Desire Some Freckles wasn’t just a valuable horse. She also was a member of the Corte family.
The mare lived out her years at the family’s property in Alabama. Though she was a kind mare, she knew she was “Queen of the Barn.”
When the time came to put her down, her longtime caretaker, Beverly, made sure the mare got her favorite treat – shredded carrots.
“She never lost her appetite even though she was in pain, and she whinnied for them [the carrots]. So her last day she ate right before she was euthanized. She ate three bags of those carrots and scoop of treats,” Beverly said. “And, so she went off horse heaven with the full tummy.”
The Cortes are grateful for the continued ride Desire Some Freckles took them on – they cheered on her sons, daughters and now grandsons and granddaughters every chance they got – and also for the mare getting them into the sport of cutting.
“One of the true blessings of her was that she introduced us to an equine sport that we had not participated in, and exposed [us] to meeting so many new and wonderful people, and developing friendships that have gone on now for 20 years,” Beverly said. “And, you know, that’s just a side blessing: Not only having a champion horse, and a great friend in the barn, but … the exposure that you have to wonderful people and traveling to the shows and connecting with them year after year.”