Della Moore (1912 - 1930)
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A stallion's opportunity for good or
bad can appear on two or three hundred colts during his lifetime.
A mare, on the other hand, has only ten or fifteen chances to
show her worth. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why this seems
to be a male world most of the time. Nevertheless, ever so often
a female will come along whose influence is so great that she
cannot be ignored. Jenny, for example, was the dam of both Little
Joe and King (Possum). Della Moore was the dam of Joe Moore, Joe
Reed, and Grano de Oro. It is clear that Della Moore was not just
an incubator. There is no other Quarter Horse, stallion or mare,
who has as many descendants outstanding in every performance classification.
A matriarch such as she can influence and has influenced the Quarter
Horse world for many years.
One must travel to Louisiana to start the story. Here in the Cajun
country horseflesh showing fleetness was a commodity well understood.
Louisiana is in many ways the home of the modern short-horse if
racing is the criterion. It produced more fast short-horses between
1900 and 1940 than any other single area in the country. Della
Moore was born a few miles north of Scott, Louisiana, on a farm
owned by Ludovic Stemmans. When the occasion offered itself, which
it did with some regularity, Ludovic was happy to match a race
with one or more of his horses. His favorite horse was Bell, a
daughter of Sam Rock, who was a smooth sorrel mare of about 15
hands. However, she had taken the slack out of so many horses
she was getting a little hard to match, so he decided to breed
her. He was about to breed her to Dewey, the fastest horse around
his area, when suddenly Dewey was matched 256 yards and lost.
Therefore Bell ended up at the court of Dedier, the winner, and
the resulting offspring Ludovic called Della Moore.
In the early 1900's, Della ran her first race when she was still
suckling her mother. The Cajuns were never noted for patience,
and Ludovic wanted to see his new filly run. So a "milk race"
was arranged with one of his neighbors. These races were common
then and served a dual purpose; they gave breeders a line on their
prospects and at the same time gave them an opportunity to bet
some money, furniture, wagons, or whatever else wasn't tied down.
The colts were taken to the race track and then not allowed to
nurse their mothers for a while. They then were held at the starting
chute by two men while the mothers were led nickering away, up
the track, generally 156 yards. At the given signal the colts
were turned loose, and away they sprinted looking for milk. Della
Moore was the easy winner, and her feed and board were paid in
advance. By the time she was in her second year, it became more
and more difficult to match Della. She was too well known in the
parishes around Lafayette. An agreement was made between Ludovic
and a friend, Demonstran Broussard to race her farther from home.
Broussard later transferred Della Moore to Boyd Simar, another
race horse man who traveled all over the Southeast racing short-horses.
Boyd lived a couple of parishes south, in Abbeville.
Boyd Simar's life was running horses; it had been his father's
before him and was his son's, Paul's, after him. Boyd and Paul
became well known in short-horse circles when they trained race
horses for Jack Hutchins and Johnny Ferguson.15
Both Boyd and Paul spoke Cajun French by preference and English
only with an inimitable accent. Della lived up to Boyd's expectations,
and he won a lot of money on her and lost most of it betting on
his other horses.
Texas in those days had many "bull rings," small circular tracks,
some only a quarter of a mile around. If no "bull ring" was available,
at least a straightaway path could be found. At most fairs and
celebrations race meets were held, although parimutuels and organized
betting were prohibited. Betting itself was common, and the sheriff
was often the stakeholder. Top horses such as Della Moore could
not get in the races (all the others would withdraw), but generally
a local horseman could be talked into a match race if conditions
were right. When Boyd could not match Della any more, he sold
her to Henry Lindsay of Granger, Texas. Early in 1920 she was
taken to a race meet at San Antonio and stabled next to the fine
stallion Joe Blair, one of the fastest race horses alive. His
famous match race with Pan Zareta had taken place several years
before, at Juarez, when he had established a new world's record
of thirty-nine seconds for three and one-half furlongs. He was
still in his prime. While Joe Blair and Della Moore were in San
Antonio, stabled in adjoining stalls, the horse known as Joe Reed
was conceived. Boyd Simar had no idea how or why Della was bred
to Joe Blair, for she was racing at the time.
One day George Clegg told the owner of Little Joe, Ott Adams,
about a Louisiana mare he had seen that could run even better
than she looked, and she was a walking picture. They talked about
Della Moore's breeding, and Ott decided she might be the one to
give him a son to replace the aging Little Joe. Ott wanted to
see Della Moore and at the same time look over her colt, Joe Reed.
He did, and he then knew she was the mare he wanted. Her stature,
her clean-cut limbs, and her femininity would cross well with
Joe's compact masculinity. And with that breeding, speed on both
sides, he felt the offspring should fly. The owner promised to
call Ott when he was ready to sell.
Some time went by, and Ott Adams began to get restless. Little
Joe would soon be twenty years old, and Ott still did not have
Della to breed to him. He decided he wouldn't wait any longer.
He drew some money out of the bank. He had to pay $600 for Della,
a large sum of money in that day for an old mare that could no
longer run. However, Ott figured time was running out on both
Little Joe and Della Moore and there was no choice.
As soon as Della Moore arrived in Alice, Ott bred her to Joe.
Her first foal by Little Joe was dropped August 16, 1923, a beautiful
little sorrel filly he named Aloe. John Dial came by to see Little
Joe's and Della's first daughter and liked her so well he bought
her on the spot. Ott bred Della back to Joe when Aloe was nine
days old, but she did not stick. She came in regularly, but Joe
could not seem to get her in foal. Ott was to learn later that
she would foal only every other year regardless of whom she was
bred to or how often.
In 1925, Della foaled Grano de Oro. For some reason, good as the
colt was, he did not satisfy Ott, so when Joan Dial showed up,
Ott sold Della's second colt to him just as he did her first.
She would not settle that year. On March 23, 1927, Della Moore
foaled the bay horse colt sired by Little Joe that suited Ott,
and so he gave the new colt his sire's first name and his dam's
last, Joe Moore. Ott was satisfied with Joe Moore and sold Little
Joe to O. C. Cardwell of Junction. Della Moore foaled one more
filly before she died in 1930--the filly Panzarita by Paul El.
Thus ends the saga of Della Moore, a peerless race mare and the
grande dame of the Quarter Horse world.
15 I managed the
Hutchins and Ferguson Quarter Horses while Boyd and Paul Simar
were training for them. It was directly from Boyd that I obtained
most of my information about Della Moore and other Louisiana short-horses.
Several times I made trips into Louisiana with, or after, race
horses and so came to know many of the men connected with Dedier,
Flying Bob, Della Moore, and other well-known Louisiana race horses.
This story was taken from the book by Robert Moorman Denhardt
- Quarter Horses: A Story of Two Centuries. (For more reading,
check out another book by Denhardt - The King Ranch Quarter