It looks like 2012 is about to be another stellar year for the remarkable little horse that could. “Mine That Bird,” New Mexico’s 50 to1 long shot, and come-from-behind winner of the 2009 Kentucky Derby, is about tobe immortalized by Hollywood.
Academy award-winning producer Jim Wilson, (“Dance’swith Wolves,” and “The Bodyguard”), and a long-time collaborator of Kevin Costner, is set to begin filming “The Wild Ride” this fall, shooting in Roswell—at Buena Suerte Equine Farm and Double Eagle Ranch—home to Mine That Bird’s owners, Dr. Leonard Blach and Mark Allen.
Equine veterinarian, Dr. Leonard Blach’s partnership with trainer, Mark Allen can only be described as one between the “Man of Science” and “The Charming Rogue.” For 50 years, Dr. Blach has contributed to the development of equine medicine and surgery through his close association with Colorado State University where he has been involved in research and training—with a special focus on equine reproduction in the stallion and broodmare.
A native of Yuma, Colorado, Doc knew from a young age, growing up on his family’s ranch, that he wanted to be an equine veterinarian, “Yuma was a real small town of 2,000 about 150 miles northeast of Denver. I was one of eight kids and we ranched cattle on a wheat farm.” After receiving his doctorate in Veterinary Medicine in 1960, Doc began a large surgical and equine practice in Santa Fe, the first of its kind in New Mexico. He pioneered the establishment of a racetrack practice, and was as one of the founders of Santa Fe Downs, which saw its glory days from 1960 to 1975.
In 1971, Doc was approached by Houston horse-lover, Harriet Peckham to start a large breeding farm in New Mexico. Doc designed Buena Suerte Ranch on what was then 330 acres of alfalfa and cotton fields. According to Doc, Harriet “made me an offer I couldn’t refuse and I knew it was an area I wanted to get involved in. It was a whole new page that opened up in my life.”
Initially, Doc was resident veterinarian and general manager but before long became Harriet’s partner in “one of the largest, most sophisticated quarter horse breeding farms—standing some of the leading sires in the nation and breeding 600-800 mares annually.”
As such, Doc became co-owner of Go Man Go (three time world-champion) and other spectacular horses, like Easy Jet, Rocket Wrangler, and St. Bar. In the world of quarter horses, this was the first time a part owner of a breeding operation was also the resident veterinarian.
Doc’s lucrative partnership with Harriet lasted until 1986 when he opened “Buena Suerte Equine Clinic.” In his words, “I continued to specialize in equine reproduction and surgery, developing new techniques in artificial insemination, embryo transfers . . .and maintained a breeding farm in conjunction with the clinic, standing several quarter horse and thoroughbred stallions.”
So how exactly did Doc, the man of science, meet Mark Allen, the charming rapscallion who is his partner and co-owner of Mine That Bird? Doc allows Mark to respond and they both laugh heartily, “I was kinda wild and Doc avoided me, he knew I was trouble—but in the end, my sparkling personality won him over.”
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