AHT's December Leader Of The Times
Turismo RA: The Undefeated Champion
by THERESA CARDAMONE
Turismo RA (Trussardi x Marlene Dietrich, by Marwan Al Shaqab) is a breeder’s dream on both sides of his pedigree. The 2016 United States and Canadian National Champion Futurity Colt was bred in America by Rojo Arabians, is proudly owned by Silver Stag Arabians, LLC, and stands in the great state of Delaware at Adandy Farm under the loving care of Cathy Vincent.
Turismo’s tail male line runs through World Champion Gazal Al Shaqab—who, because of his extraordinary influence through both sons and daughters, has been dubbed the foundation sire of the contemporary Arabian horse. When Gazal’s son, Stival, was bred to the incredible producer and 1987 U.S. Reserve National Champion Futurity Filly, Precious As Gold (also dam of Versace), she gave 2012 U.S. National Champion Futurity Colt (and 2010 U.S. Reserve National Champion Yearling Colt), Trussardi, the sire of Turismo RA.
The bottom of Turismo’s pedigree has a dam line that is anchored in some of the earliest Arabian strains imported to the United States way back at the turn of the last century. The line’s foundation mare Urfah was foaled in the Syrian desert in 1898, and is only the 40th Arabian horse ever registered in America. It is a potent legacy that stretches through time, one splendid broodmare at a time.
The name “Marlene Dietrich” often evokes a film noir image of a sultry woman, but in the Arabian horse community, that name is reserved for a very special mare. This Marlene Dietrich is a genetically-packed daughter of World Champion Marwan Al Shaqab and the black Bey Shah mare, Bey Fireeshah, who was the 1994 U.S. National Champion Futurity Filly.
Bey Fireeshah produced several national title holders, including U.S. and Canadian National Champion Hunter Pleasure, American Idol, and twice-U.S. Reserve National Champion H/A Hunter Pleasure, A Fireekin Fortune. Bey Fireeshah is out of another fabulous mare, Bint Miss Fire, a U.S. National Champion in both English pleasure and pleasure driving and the dam of national champions.
With such a strong and successful family tree, it is no wonder Marlene Dietrich is a phenomenal producer, being the dam of back-to-back U.S. National Champion Futurity Colts. When Turismo RA won in 2016, he was following in the hoofprints of his full brother, Truest, who won the title the previous year. (Truest also won the U.S. National Champion Junior Stallion title in 2015, and was the U.S. Reserve National Champion Junior Stallion in 2017). In fact, it was Truest who led Silver Stag Arabians owner Merrilee Lyons to eventually purchase Turismo.
“I owned Truest, whom Cathy Vincent had found and encouraged me to buy when he was a youngster,” says Merrilee. “We showed him successfully, and sold him a few years ago. I was a little despondent because I hated to see him go, but the price was attractive enough that I thought it would be silly to turn it down. While the sale unfolded, I remembered seeing an itsy-bitsy picture in the back section of the Times—about 2 by 3 inches—of Turismo. It caught my eye because he was a full brother to Truest.”
Merrilee tries to listen to her inner voice in all things, a practice that has stood her in good stead with her horses. She couldn’t get the image of Turismo out of her mind. “I looked at this tiny picture and thought, ‘Wow, look at this horse!’” she recalls. “He just struck me, although he was really young, maybe three or four months old. I asked Cathy to go down to see him at Rojo Arabians, who also bred Truest. Cathy sent me pictures of Turismo, who was now a yearling. I said, ‘Everything that I see in the photos is what I thought he would be. People are going to hear about Truest and will want to go for the full brother as well. Let’s go for it!’”
“Turismo is a grand horse in all respects—beautifully proportioned conformation, the ability to carry himself like an English horse, and a pedigree that has great strength,” Merrilee continues. “He has all of the new stars and many of the old stars in his lineage and has bloomed and blossomed into what he is today … so much more than my expectations. Cathy Vincent has been a wonderful caretaker, trainer and promoter of this great horse; she is a dear friend of mine. Alayna Mala has also done a beautiful job of assisting in his conditioning. We always seem to be able to be on the same track with Turismo.”
Everyone loves their own stallions, but not every stallion lives up to their owner’s vision of him. Competing in the show ring is one way to receive validation that the horse wasn’t being seen through the owner’s “rose-colored glasses.” In the case of Turismo, the confirmation of quality came early and came often. “His show career has been glorious—he has never been defeated,” Merrilee states. “As time went on, he beat everybody out there. We showed him from his 2-year-old year through his 3-year-old Futurities. He won at Canada, at U.S. Nationals, and all points in between. You name the region that we went to, and he won. We went to a couple of places twice … he never lost. When he won the two big titles, the Futurities, we were elated.”
Although the heady rush of winning at Nationals was a total thrill, the people in Turismo’s life have long-range goals that nurture both his physical and mental well-being. “We agreed to give him this last year off to just be a horse, to do a little breeding, and to enjoy his life,” Merrilee comments. “Now, he is entering the next phase of his show career and we have some plans for him that would make him an even more successful stallion than he is already. He has one foal on the ground out of a QR Marc daughter, born this year. From what we see, we are very excited about him. He came out looking just like Turismo did when I saw that little picture of him a few years ago!” There are several mares in foal to him for 2018.
Turismo sells himself to anyone who sees him. “There is an aura of nobility about him,” avers Merrilee. “He has a regal quality—exciting and so full of himself, yet kind and intelligent. We have high hopes for the horse. He is different. Everyone will say this about their own stallion, but he is different. He has a great strength about him. When he comes out, you sure know that he is there. He’s all guy. He is all about himself. He knows who he is.”
Cathy Vincent has kept Turismo in perfect condition and is working him in lines to keep him happy and engaged. While Merrilee is sorely tempted to “put leather on him,” in part because Cathy is principally a very successful performance trainer, he won’t be broken to ride in the immediate future.
“Scottsdale is the next show on his horizon and if he does well there, we will send him on to U.S. Nationals,” says Merrilee. “He’s an exciting horse. Frankly, I’m always reluctant to throw everything into the wind and say, ‘Let’s go with fate’ but in this case, I think he is worth the gamble. We’re going to go for it! When in doubt, listen to that little voice that is always with you. Even in the darkest hour, it works out to be right. I feel that whatever happens with this horse, he has been the joy of my life for the last few years.”