50-Year Breeders: William O. Dale
50-Year Breeders: William O. Dale
William O. Dale wasn’t born into the horse business, but, as the saying goes, he got there as fast as he could. Young Bill grew up in the Kansas City, Missouri, area, and attended college at Central Missouri State University. It was there he met and married his wife of 53 years, Janis, and it was during that time that he bought his first horse, an American Quarter Horse filly, as a riding horse. It wasn’t long before Janis wanted one, too, and they were soon riding together.
“We bought them just to ride and we rode a lot,” Bill says. “We had an appetite for it.”
He served his country in the United States Army, and when he returned home, they acquired some land in Missouri, built a house and brought their horses home. It was at that time they went looking for a stallion to breed to their mares.
“I happened to find one that had come off the racetrack,” Bill says. “Some people knew him and said, ‘Boy, you ought to send him back.’ He was a really good runner.”
While it ultimately turned out that the horse wasn’t that good, he did give them a taste of life as racehorse owners, and they liked it.
“Racing got into our blood, and that’s what got us started in that end of it,” he says.
Their first foals were produced in 1970, out of their two riding mares. In the past five decades, the Dales have in Bill’s name alone bred more than 330 foals, not counting partnerships.
In the early years, they bred only a palmful of foals per year, but they found they enjoyed it.
“It really started getting in our blood,” Bill says. “We had 40 acres, and we just kind of bought a mare here and there.”
The Dales attended racing sales, like, for example, what used to be known as the Haymaker Sale, now called Heritage Place, and looked for just one good mare they could add to their band. They also ran at small midwestern racetracks, Blue Ribbon Downs in Oklahoma and the now-defunct Eureka Downs at Emporia, Kansas.
“We loved it,” Dale says. “Our weekends were usually spent running a horse some place. We’d go watch them run.”
They sold most of their foals as yearlings, usually keeping only fillies as potential replacement broodmares. However, in 1995, their mare Ooh A Sensation foaled out a sorrel son of The Signature that they named The Casanova. He didn’t bring the price that Bill wanted at the sale, so they kept him and ran him.
“I kept trying to sell him to everybody and never did get him sold,” Bill says with amusement.
It turned out to be a lucky problem – as a 3-year-old, the gelding had a Grade 1-winning campaign and became Quarter Horse racing’s champion 3-year-old gelding. He retired with career earnings of $259,102.
“He was a great horse for us,” Bill says.
They have bred the earners of more than $2.8 million, including stakes winner Summertime Quickie, the dam of champion Foose, an earner of $1,616,938 on the racetrack and a top sire.
“I and my wife, we’ve certainly bred way more good horses than we kept and run,” Bill says.
In 2009, the Dales began a partnership with one of the sport’s all-time leading owners and breeders, Dr. Jim Streelman, who races in his own name and also in partnerships, most famously the champion partnership of Dutch Masters III. The partnership has bred the earners of more than $2.5 million, including Grade 1 winner Eagle Coast, an earner of $696,403, and multiple Grade 1-qualifier Midday News, an earner of $192,781. They also own the dam of Grade 1 winner Flokie, an earner of $711,819.
Bill and Janis keep their mares at home in Clinton, Missouri, and Bill even does the reproductive work himself.
“She has done every bit as much as I have, for what little bit of success we’ve had in the business,” Bill says of Janis.
The legacy breeders are still very much enjoying their horses.
“There are so many people in this business that are our friends, it would be hard to name them all,” Bill says. “It’s been our life. It’s been fun.”