Second Career Star: MM Fourinthemorning

Second Career Star: MM Fourinthemorning

A Grade 1 winner on the racetrack, he didn’t miss a step transitioning into a new career.

former racehorse in a new career

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By Andrea Caudill


On the racetrack, the sorrel gelding was the stuff dreams were made of: He was a winner at the highest level of competition, and an earner of more than six hundred grand for his proud breeders and owners. Now he’s been retired off the racetrack for less than 72 hours, but he’s already standing calmly in a big wheat pasture, a stock saddle on his back and a calf stretched out in front of him while his rider doctors it. 

It’s just the way a classy, intelligent horse like MM Fourinthemorning rolls. 

“He is smart, he has a mind on him that he does everything right,” says Mark McCloy, who with his wife, Annette, has bred, raised, raced and owns the horse. 

It is the kind of intelligence, versatility and willingness that has made the American Quarter Horse the most popular horse on earth. The breed was founded and named for its ability to cover a quarter of a mile faster than any other horse in the world, but those speedy animals were also prized for their ability to help with anything else asked of them. 

The racing American Quarter Horses of today are no different than those two hundred years ago: They are valuable on the racetrack, but are in high demand for jobs off the racetrack, as well. They are snapped up for all kinds of jobs, from barrel racing and rodeo events, to show and competitions, to recreational riding and companionship with the owners that adore them. 

The McCloys are based in Tatum, New Mexico, and in the wee hours of January 29, 2016, their mare Easeful Dinastia gave to the world a little sorrel colt.

“That’s how he got his name – he was born close to 4 a.m., and we thought, well this one is ‘Four in the morning,’” Mark says. 

With his breeder’s initials added to make it official, MM Fourinthemorning went into race training and the gelded son of American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame stallion Mr Jess Perry proved he had potential. In his second start, he became a winner, and in his third race he won the prestigious $1 million Rainbow Futurity (G1). Next he qualified to the $3 million All American Futurity (G1), the premiere race in the sport, and early in the race held the lead before finishing fifth. 

When he retired in the fall of 2020, he had won or placed in seven of 12 starts and earned $608,366. 

“Breeding one that wins a Grade 1 – that’s the ultimate,” Mark says. “For a lot of his 2-year-old career, he was the No. 1-ranked 2-year-old in the nation. You just can’t explain how gratifying it is. It’s just unreal. You just hope you can do it again someday.”

As the horse’s 4-year-old season wrapped up, the McCloys had a decision to make. As a fast and healthy racehorse, people were interested in purchasing him, but the horse’s welfare came first, and his owners thought that MM Fourinthemorning was ready to retire from racing.  

“Folks showed interest in him, I had offers on him, but I thought, this horse doesn’t owe me a dang thing,” Mark says. “(I decided) I’d like to see him pick up broncs some day at the NFR. So that’s what we did.”

The horse’s race trainer dropped the horse off at the McCloy’s house on a Saturday, and the next day the family delivered him to trainer Preston Burr of Gruver, Texas, to begin the next phase of his life, helping oversee wheat cattle pasture.  

“They saddled him up Monday morning and checked cattle on him that day,” Mark says. “They said they saddled him up and he rode off like a horse that’s been doing it his whole life.

“(Preston) doctors a lot of wheat pasture cattle, and that’s about as good a thing you can do to (retrain a horse),” Mark says. “He’s transitioned really well.” 

The plan is to put long and slow hours on MM Fourinthemorning before introducing him to arena work and begin his training as a pickup horse, which is a rodeo job requiring the pickup man’s horse to run up beside a bucking horse and allow the bronc rider to slide over onto the pickup horse. The task requires an intelligent, brave and fast horse. 

“He’s very good minded,” Preston says. “(Making him a pickup horse) has been my plan. He’s a big, stout, big-boned, pretty sucker, and he’ll be good. He’s got a lot of run, he’s big and stout.” 

All of those qualities are what makes MM Fourinthemorning so adaptable. 

“I think his mind is his best thing,” Mark says. “And his athletic ability—he’s an athlete.”

Second Career Stars is an ongoing series on retired racing American Quarter Horses in new careers. If you know of a horse that should be featured, write to acaudill@aqha.org. AQHA News and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHA Racing on Twitter, "like" Q-Racing on Facebook, and visit www.aqha.com/racing.