From THE QUARTER RACING JOURNAL, January 1988
by Richard Chamberlain
ON APRIL 17, 1973, B.F. PHILLIPS walked into his house on his ranch outside Frisco, Texas, and announced to his wife that the best horse ever born on the place had been foaled.
"There was no question," said Phillips. "When this colt hit the ground, he was so perfectly conformed. Most colts, when they are born, are skinny and gangling and so forth. This colt was, too, of course, but he just had everything conformed right. I felt then that he was going to be a great horse. I went back to the house and told my wife that the best horse ever born on the place had just hit the ground. There was no mistaking him."
Dash For Cash had arrived.
It wouldn't be long before the rest of the world would know it, either.
In the next few years, the horse would spread his name across the country, first as a racehorse who's fame rivaled, maybe even surpassed, that of his legendary ancestor Go Man Go, later as a sire who's offspring have dominated major league Quarter Horse racing as no other's have since Steel Dust. His fame continues to grow, as a new generation—sons and daughters of his sons and daughters—comes to the fore and spreads his influence even further.
BRED AND BORN OF THE BLOOD OF CHAMPIONS, DASH FOR CASH was by Rocket Wrangler, one of the finest Quarter Horse sons of the Thoroughbred stallion Rocket Bar, arguably the best of many outstanding progeny of Three Bars. Rocket Wrangler was out of the talented stakes-winning Go Man Go mare Go Galla Go, a gutty little competitor which earned black type, money and accolades on tracks from South Texas to the West Coast in the early '60s.
Under the careful eye of C.W. (Bubba) Cascio and the expert ride of Jerry Nicodemus. "The Wrangler" ran out a quarter of a million dollars in a career that spanned 10 victories in 23 races over 2 1/2 years.
"He was sure one of the best horses I was ever lucky enough to ride," said Nicodemus of Rocket Wrangler, a sprinter which put together victories in the All-American and Rainbow futurities in 1970 to be named the sport's top freshman colt. Still a stakes horse at age five, Rocket Wrangler ran until the end of the Horsemen's QHRA meet in January 1973, two seasons after entering the stud in 1971.
Phillips had high regard for the horse, and was soon taking him mares—some of which weren't his. He and the King Ranch had worked out a deal whereby Phillips bred certain of the ranch's mares, and then acted as a partner on the resulting foals. By the time Rocket Wrangler entered service, it had already proved a profitable venture: One of the early successes, within two or three years of the handshake, was Some Kinda Man, a foal of 1969 which became one of the fastest sons of Go Man Go to ever set hoof on a track.
"My arrangements with the King Ranch was that I would keep those mares, and if they didn't produce to suit me after one or two colts, I could take them back home, go back through the mares and get some more," said Phillips.
Phillips didn't mind going through the herd as many times as it took, nor did he let changing his mind bother him. A student of breeding, Phillips devoured information on all aspects of horses and how to improve them, from sources as widely diverse as the firsthand knowledge that comes from his years in the saddle to the second-and third-hand kind that comes by reading and dissecting the opinions of others. The result has been a bedrock foundation for one of the most successful breeding operations in Quarter Horse history—and Phillips knew what he was looking for.
"The way I pick mares, I pick first for conformation, and then for pedigree," he said. "Unless a horse has conformation, I don't think he can really be relied upon. "You're going to find freaks that have no conformation and can run or cut, or do whatever you want to do on them, but as a rule, you're going to have to have some conformation to go along with it. If that bone structure is not right, the rest of him is not right."
Phillips was impressed by Rocket Wrangler's bone structure, among other things, and during the stallion's second season at stud, he took to him a Thoroughbred daughter of To Market, one he'd found while sorting through the King Ranch mares. A stakes winner himself, To Market was the sire of the juvenile Thoroughbred champion Hurry To Market, and had sired a number of other Thoroughbred stakes winners. This particular mare, however, hadn't yet marked herself as of that class: Named Find A Buyer, she was an earner of $3,134, had won one of her 14 starts and had produced two relatively minor winners from three Thoroughbred foals. Phillips felt that there might be a little more to her, however, that she had the kind of conformation and breeding that would benefit from Rocket Wrangler's.
B.F. Phillips. with Find A Buyer, dam of Dash For Cash. A winner herself, Find A Buyer produced three Thoroughbreds and nine other Quarter Horses, including two full brothers to Dash. All of the Thoroughbreds started, and all of the Quarter Horses, except one of Dash's full brothers, made it to the track. They earned a cumulative $36,854—about a third of what Dash For Cash had earned by the time Nicodemus rode him back to the winner's circle after the colt's fourth race.
"Dash For Cash's mother is a third go-round mare, one I found the third time I went through them," he said. "Rocket Wrangler had a fine head and neck, and the mare needed help. That's why I bred her to him."
The breeding was successful, phenomenally so, and Phillips knew it right off the bat. "I'd rather see a foal when he's first born, just about the time he stands for the first time, that I had when he's two or three months old," he said. "By that time, he's been on that milk and he's got baby fat on him. But when he first comes out of that mare, he's nothing but bones and hide, and you can pretty well tell what he's gonna be right then."
Baby fat or not, Phillips became more convinced of the potential as time went on.
"We had a program then, and we still do now, that we geld most all of our colts," said Phillips. "That particular year, that fall when we selected our colts, I saved three of them — Dash For Cash, Windy Ryon and a horse called Alota Man." A stakes placed earner of $50,274, Windy Ryon has sired the earners of some $3.5 million, including champion Ronas Ryon, winner of the All-American Futurity (Gr.1) and Derby (Gr.1). Alota Man contracted a respiratory infection, however, and "just never did get over it," he said. "I gave him away, and he's being used in another breeding program.
"I had 'Dash' running with other colts in the pasture. One thing that made me so sure about him was that I'd read a book written by an Italian breeder, Frederico Tesio, that said the best way to grade your colts was to go out in the pasture in the morning and in the evening, and watch them play. The outstanding colt would always lead. Always—the outstanding colt would be leading the pack, That was Dash. He never was an aggressive colt, didn't try to push around the others or anything like that, but you could always tell who was the best colt."
TURNED OVER TO CASCIO AND NICODEMUS, the best colt got to the racetrack as a two-year-old early in 1975. On March 8, Dash For Cash went to post for his first out, a 300-yard trial for the $45,128 Lubbock Downs Spring Futurity. Marking himself as one to watch, the bright sorrel won easily by 2 1/4 lengths, clocking the third-fastest time, a :15.95 that was bettered only by Native Creek's :15.76 and Skibbereen's :15.85, both of which had won their trials by much closer margins.
Jerry Burgess took the mount on Dash For Cash the finals a week later. Breaking from the 5 post, with Skibbereen to his immediate right and Native Creek a couple of gates over on the inside, Dash For Cash went to the front. Holding off Native Creek by a head, with Skibbereen daylighted in third, the colt cruised under the wire in :15:59, picking up a speed rating of 101, setting a track record that stood until 1984 and winning $20,307.
Dash For Cash also established a pattern that, in retrospect, would be repeated time and time again over over the next three years: Many fillies that he first met and defeated on the racetrack, he later met again in the breeding barn. The field in the Lubbock Futurity, for instance, included Lela Barnes Bug, which, to his cover in 1980, would produced Cash N Balance, a stakes winner of $19,576.
The breeding barn, of course, figured in the distant future. Of immediate concern was the colt's next out, the trials for the upcoming Sun Country Futurity at Sunland Park, New Mexico. Winning by a length, with Nicodemus back in the irons, Dash For Cash again qualified third-fastest, a :17.67 that was one-fifths of a second off the mark set by Bugs Alive in 75 and 5/100ths behind that recorded by Chick Called Sue.
Another pattern was emerging: It took a whole lot of racehorse to outshine Dash For Cash.
Of course, outshining Dash For Cash by clocking a faster time was one thing; actually outrunning him was quite another. Drawing the outside in the finals, Dash For Cash made short work of the field, winning by three-fourths of a length in a stakes record :17.37, to add another $75,421 to his account.
Taken to Ruidoso, Dash For Cash racked up a couple of allowance wins, and then contested the trials for the All-American Futurity. Another easy win, this by a length but in a slow :22.40 at the quarter, qualified the colt for the $66,000 Second Consolation. Dash was never saddled for the Consolation, however. Stricken with colic, Dash For Cash nearly died, and was saved only through a blood transfusion—"about a gallon," said Phillips—from Rocket Wrangler, which was standing at Buena Suerte Ranch in Roswell, some 60 miles east of Ruidoso. (Even while sitting out, however, Dash For Cash was in good company. Two of the three scratches from the Second Consolation were Windy Ryon and Sold Short.)
Dash didn't waste much time recuperating, though. Within a couple of weeks after the All-American, Dash For Cash was standing in the gates at Albuquerque, waiting for the start of the Jet Deck Handicap while shouldering high weight and conceding three to 10 pounds to a field that included the likes of Flashy Go Moore, Speckled Trace and Billy Billly Byou. Another win by a length brought Dash For Cash his eighth consecutive victory photo.
The streak was snapped in his next out. Cascio took the colt to El Paso to run in the Sunland Fall Futurity trials. Getting away slowly, Dash came from behind, closing rapidly to go from fifth in the stretch to almost—almost, a neck short of getting it done—catch Watch A Native at the wire. Nevertheless, Dash For Cash earned a berth in the finals. However, in the Futurity, he was distanced at the wire, two lengths off the pace of All American Futurity winner Bugs Alive in 75, later tabbed that year's champion stallion. Dash For Cash finished sixth, the only time in his career that he would run farther back than second.
AFTER FIVE MONTHS OFF, Dash For Cash was back at Sunland just prior to the close of the 1976 spring meet, this time for an allowance sprint to prep him for the Kansas Derby trials two weeks later at Ruidoso. Taking an easy win by three-fourths of a length, Dash For Cash romped over the 350 yards and went back to his stall primed and fit for his next out.
Taken to the mountains, Dash For Cash was sharp for his trial to the Kansas. Once again, however, the colt drew a field that was, quite simply, unable to offer the kind of competition he needed. Winning was fun, Dash For Cash outclassed his nearest rival (which had daylighted the third-place horse) by 1 1/4 lengths, but in a time much too slow to make the finals.
With almost a month and a half until the trials for the Rainbow Derby, the decision was made to send Dash For Cash to the West Coast for the Los Alamitos Derby. Cascio. however. was tied up in New Mexico, so the colt was shipped to D. Wayne Lukas.
Therein lies a bit of misinformation, according to Phillips. It has been reported, more than a few times, that Lukas (the the leader in stakes wins at Los Alamitos, now a record-setting Eclipse Award-winning trainer of Thoroughbreds) was actually the guiding hand behind Dash For Cash's success at the track.
"D. Wayne Lukas never trained this horse," Phillips said flatly. "Bubba Cascio was the only man who ever trained him. Lukas ran him for Bubba. We had him in California, and Bubba wasn't there—we shipped him out there to run and we put him in Lukas' barn. But this horse was made by Bubba—hell, you could have trained the horse as far as that goes. You'd have to had to saddle him, that's all it amounted to. I don't mean to take anything away from Wayne Lukas —he's a great trainer—but hadn't anybody ever trained this horse but Bubba. Cascio deserves all the credit."
Judging from the results, at least, Phillips was right: Dash For Cash was as content to munch oats in Lukas' barn as he was in Cascio's. Lukas saddled him for the Los Al Derby trials, and the colt responded with a nose with over Charger Easy in :21.96. In the finals, Dash For Cash went off as the slight favorite over Golden State Derby winner Windy's Request. Ultimately, however, it wasn't much of a contest. Dash For Cash turned in a fast :21.79 to win by half a length over Charter Party, with Alleoop another length back in third. Windy's Request ran fifth, more than five lengths off the pace.
By then, the trials for the Rainbow were coming up, and Dash hopped back into a trailer for a ride to New Mexico. Once there, he galloped through for an easy four-length win and turned a slow :22.01 over a fast track, a tepid clocking that was nonetheless fast enough to qualify for the finals.
The finals, held on the Fourth of July, were different. Going off as the less-than-even-money favorite on a track rated "good," Dash For Cash got away slowly from the 5 post. Coming from behind—the stretch call has him seventh—Dash For Cash hooked up with A Zure Request from the 8 and I'm Gorgeous on the extreme outside. Under heavy drives, the three went to the front as the rest of field, particularly those fighting the deep going on the inside, began to tire. But at the wire, I'm Gorgeous—at 2-1 odds, the only horse in the race to go off at less than 7-1—prevailed by half a length, while A Zure Request trailed in another half length down in third. Dash For Cash picked up $53,313 for second, while I'm Gorgeous won more than twice than in money and at least a comparable amount in prestige; the filly wound up as that year's champion sophomore distaffer.
It was several weeks before Dash For cash went to post again. A half length win in an allowance on the last day of the month sharpened him and brought him back to form. With another three weeks until the trials to the All-American Derby, Cascio eased off and let his charge gather strength.
He needed it. On the morning of the draw positions in the trials to the All-American, Dash For Cash was assigned the 1 post, Ruidoso's then infamous inside with its notorious hump. But when the starter kicked the gates, Dash went to the front, had two lengths on the field by the time it was half over, and cruised on under a handride to win by 2 1/2 lengths.
Dash For Cash drew the 4 post in the finals, and to his right (in order) were Reller's Image, I'm Gorgeous and Mito Wise Dancer. And despite the presence of horses such as A Zure Request and Southern Gentlemen, the All-American Derby was, from the first jump, a race between the inside four. Dash For Cash went immediately to the front, with Mito Wise Dancer very close behind and making up ground stride by stride. Halfway through the quarter-mile contest, the grey colt moved into lead, while I'm Gorgeous and Reller's Image both made strong bids, and Dash For Cash lost position and slipped back.
Nicodemus got him running again and making up ground to take back second place, but ran out of track before he could catch the leader. With a half-length advantage at the wire, Mito Wise Dancer won going away in :21.58, while Dash For Cash stuck his nose in front of I'm Gorgeous for the place. Reller's Image was lapped on in fourth.
Needing a win, Dash For Cash was shipped to Albuquerque for the New Mexico State Fair Stakes. A quarter-mile sprint contested that year over a sloppy track, Dash put a length on Pine's Easter Jet to win in :21.79, a short 1/100th of a second off the track record, which rated his speed at 107 at the distance.
A HORSE WHICH "LIKES TO RUN FRESH," according to the jockey, Dash For Cash had nearly three months to prepare for his next start, the fifth running of the Champion of Champions Invitational at Los Alamitos.
Already one of the most prestigious events on the Quarter racing calendar, the $75,000 Champions was the kind of race that warranted letting a horse have his druthers. Cascio decided to keep the colt out of competition and bring him up to the event on works alone.
Dash For Cash would need every advantage that his trainer and jockey could give him. The other nine entries in the race — A Zure Request, Wanta Go, Mito Wise Dancer, Southern Gentlemen, Heza Charger, Windy's Request, She's Precious, Smooth Me and I'm Gorgeous (which was scratched) — had between them 104 wins in 233 starts, and four of them would be named champions in their divisions that year. Their cumulative earnings topped $1.56 million at a time when only 17 races nationwide — a dozen of which were futurities — offered purses of $100,000 or more. It was, by any estimate, a formidable field: At 5-1. Dash For Cash went off as the third-favorite, behind Go Man Go/Los Alamitos Championship winner She's Precious, at even money, and Mito Wise Dancer, at 3-1.
None of that made any difference when the starter kicked the gates. Nicodemus said later that Dash For Cash "usually breaks a little slow and comes from behind." This time, however, the flashy colt walked in the inside post, pricked his ears and waited, breaking on top the instant the gates were opened — "He was ahead when they hollered go," said the jockey. Dash For Cash steadily opened his lead, widening it stride by stride, to half a length at the stretch all, 1/1/2 lengths at the wire. Clocking at :21.17, Dash For Cash shattered the track mark of :21.49 set by Jet Deck 13 years earlier, earned a speed index of 114 and, when the track photographer caught the horse in full stride at the wire with Nicodemus standing in the irons and looking back at the distant also-rans, provided posterity with one of the finest photos of a champion racehorses ever made.
Nicodemus called it "the easiest stakes win I've ever had."
Rewarding with the title of world champion Quarter running horse, Dash For Cash went home to Texas for some R&R. It was seven months before he returned, but most likely, he enjoyed the rest. Dash For Cash was bred to 20 mares that spring.
AFTER THE PLEASANT LITTLE LAYOFF (so to speak), Dash For Cash was sent to Lukas in California to have a go at the only three $100,000 races open anywhere to Quarter Horses beyond age three. The first was the Vessels Maturity, for which he qualified easily, while besting World's Championship Classic winner A Zure Request, the same horse that ran second to him in the Champions, by a length.
The finals were July 2. After the trials, Nicodemus had flown back to New Mexico, where he was injured in a spill. For only the second time in Dash For Cash's race career, Nicodemus wouldn't be in the saddle. Jerry Burgess came in to take the mount.
Native Creek beat the field out of the gates at the start of the Vessels which Dash For Cash, typically, broke slowly. Getting clear of horses on both sides of him, the sorrel stallion quickly drew even, hooked up with Flashy Go Moore (the year's champion aged gelding) and raced heads up until, some hundred yards from the wire, Dash For Cash began drawing away, to take a comfortable lead of three-quarter of a length with him across the wire. The first male to win one of the three runnings of the Vessels, Dash For Cash clocked a :21.56, turning the third fastest quarter yet recorded at Los Alamitos, shattering champion Charger Bar's stakes record of :21.70, and giving Burgess, a long-time nationally leading jockey, his first win at the Orange County racetrack.
Dash For Cash next started a month and a half later in the $100,000 Los Alamitos Championship. Not yet fully recovered from his wreck, Nicodemus returned to rid the stallion. His reward was another easy trip, as Dash For Cash trounced a star-studded field that included the likes of Break Parr, Hyjonijet, Little Blue Sheep and Deck'Em. Flashing across 1 1/2 lengths ahead of A Zure Request, Dash For Cash bettered his previous time, recording a :21.53, which at the time was the fastest clocking ever run under the lights at Los Alamitos.
The stallion then made news without even leaving his stall. Early in the fall, Dash For Cash was syndicated for $2.5 million. With his book closed to outside mares, the syndication provided 40 shares, with two breedings per share.
By then, Dash For Cash had accomplished about as much as can be asked of any racehorse.
But Dash For Cash wasn't simply any racehorse. The syndication agreement allowed Phillips the right to run the horse through the end of the year, and the breeder asked him one more time.
With the purse increased from $75,000 to $100,000, the 1977 Champion of Champions loomed up in December — a fitting end to a champion's career, thought Phillips, though not necessarily without some reservation.
"That was the only race that I ever had anything to do with that I completely washed out on," he said, of the sprint that became the stage for another of Dash For Cash's displays of easy superiority over the best horses in training. "I had syndicated the horse and there wasn't anything else for him to do, and there wasn't anything else for me to do with the horse. I'd collected everybody's money and I had the right to run him. I thought to myself, 'What am I doing, running this horse? If I take him and get him beat in this race, what are these people who bought a share in him going to think?' That to me is the highlight of his career, the thing I was most proud of, when he won the second Champion of Champions."
For the record, despite trying to lug in, Dash For Cash won the event by a length in :21.63. The only horse yet—maybe ever—to twice win what has become the single most prestigious event on the calendar, Dash For Cash became the first Quarter Horse to earn more than $500,000 without winning the All-American Futurity or the All-American Derby.
In spite of having to fight the horse to keep him from drifting toward the rail, Nicodemus called it "the second easiest stakes win I've ever had."
SO THAT'S DASH FOR CASH, THE RACEHORSE—25 starts, 21 wins, and three seconds, earnings of $507,687, and a speed index of 114 at the classic distance over the most heavily contested racetrack in the sport.
Shortly after he left he battles of the turf, Dash For Cash's first foals were born. And it took no longer to prove him as a stallion than it did as a racehorse. In that first crop, Dash For Cash got champion Queen for Cash and major stakes winner Baby Hold On —from a test breeding of less than two dozen mares.
His second group of babies included major stakes winner Justanold Love and world champion Dashingly, the sport's first millionaire that didn't win the All-American Futurity. Quickly followed by horses such as On A High (Dash's first millionaire that did win the All-American Futurity, hmmmm) and Make Mine Cash, Merganette, Dashing Phoebe, Calyx, et al, the stallion has, with eight crops to race, become the most sought-after stallion in the business. All but a handful of his 450-odd starters have earned Registers of Merit, nearly three-fourths are winners, and more than 100 warrant black type.
The leading sire in virtually every category devised, Dash For Cash's offspring have earned nearly $22 million, second only to Easy Jet's—and topping that list is just a matter of time.
At more than $2.7 million earned last year alone, Dash For Cash was by far the leader in 1987. The sire of six horses among the 20 all-time leading money earners, four in last year's top 20, Dash For Cash is also the sire of of 1987's leading freshman sire, By Yawl, and the dam of last year's leading money earner, All-American Futurity winner Elans Special.
Dash For Cash: the sire of six champions already, the only stallion to sire three different world champions in three consecutive years—Dashingly in 1983, Dashs Dream (out of Southern Streaker, a mare he distanced in his second Champion of Champions) in 1984, Cash Rate in '85. Last year he had three divisional champions, and now, after a one-year break, First Down Dash and Florentine are leading contenders for world status.
"I think one thing that made Dash For Cash as fast as he was, and as successful as he was, was the fact that he has so much intelligence," said Phillips.
"This horse had more intelligence, and has more intelligence, than any horse I've ever been around. When he was in his training period, in early life, this horse was just as docile as could be; you could take him out with a cotton rope and halter, and lead him out and graze him anytime, all the time he was in training. But you put him on a racetrack, and he got up on the muscle. He was that way all his life. you can go out there, and lead him anywhere you want to, do anything you want to with him, and he's just perfect. Every other day in breeding season, when he comes out of the stall and he knows he's going to the breeding barn, he gets on the muscle—but he's all business, whatever he does. And after the business is over, he's through."
Evidently Dash For Cash passes on that temperament and disposition, also, as much as he does conformation and sheer athletic ability. When reminiscing about Cash Rate or discussing First Down Dash, jockey James Lackey is apt to talk about their attitudes and antics around the barn as he is their physical prowess under saddle. Danny Cardoza, who rode Dashs Dream to her championships, has often said that the mare was the most intelligent horse he's ever ridden, and Mike Robbins, her trainer, has said, only in jest, that they would have shown her at halter hadbeen there any money in it.
B.F. Phillips, Jr, Anne Phillips & Dash For Cash, circa 1980 (photo by Bill McNabb, Jr, from Speedhorse, May 1980).
Because of all that, Dash For Cash has, in recent years, been spreading his influence beyond racing, the most conspicuous example being Miss N Cash, the stallion who won last year's National Cutting Horse Association Derby. An earner of $100,184, Miss N Cash is out of Doc N Missy, the National Cutting Horse Association's reserve world champion in 1981. That's not to say, however, that it takes a world-class mare to produce a good cow horse or nice saddle horse by Dash For Cash. Witness, for instance, Nothing But Cash: Out of a mare which neither started a race nor competed in a show, the gelding twice placed among the top-10 junior calf roping horses at the World Championship Quarter Horse Show.
DASH FOR CASH. Because of the record established by each previous crop, his untried yearlings command prices far in excess of any other sire's. Admittedly, when someone puffs his chest about his horse's pedigree, he is usually bragging about the accomplishments of somebody's else's horses. But a good horse is a good horse, and there's no better example than Dash For Cash. So whether it's a millionaire sprinter, a champion cutter, even a jackpot roping mount, there are quite a few owners who are proud to say. "This one's by Dash For Cash."
The Stud. □
Note—Dash For Cash died in 1996.
From the cover of The Quarter Racing Record, January 15, 1978:
DASH FOR CASH, with Jerry Nicodemus aboard, gains a length and one-quarter triumph over Azure Three and Bar Roula in the $100,000 Champion of Champions to become the first horse ever to win the event twice. The race was run on December 17 at Los Alamitos Race Course. Phillips Ranch and King Ranch, Inc., own the four-year-old son of Rocket Wrangler—Find A Buyer, by To Market, who was trained by Charles "Bubba" Cascio.
A classic photograph of a great champion: Milt Martinez caught Dash For Cash at the moment of one of the stallion's greatest triumphs, with Jerry Nicodemus standing in the irons as they win their first Champion of Champions in track-record time.
DASH FOR CASH
The Racehorse, The Stud