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The Western Thoroughbred History: Hawkin’s Special

Hawkin’s Special was foaled in Kentucky on February 20th, 1975. He was bred by W. H. Peckham, part owner of Go Man Go, Easy Jet, Rocket Wrangler, and many other great horses. Hawkin’s Special was by stakes winner Great Sun, who was by Bold Ruler. His dam, Sun Lover, was a stakes-winning daughter of Nasomo. Both Bold Ruler and Nasomo were by Nasrullah, which made Hawkin’s Special linebred to the great English stallion. The cross was successful though. Sun Lover produced three stakes winners when crossed back to the Nasrullah or Nearco line. Chati, also bred by W. H. Peckham, was Sun Lover’s top money-earner. Hawkin’s Special was her second.

In 1978, at age two, Hawkin’s Special won all three of his races. He even equaled the track record at Santa Anita Park for six furlongs in 1:07.80. At age three, he won two races including the Gr. 2 Los Angeles Handicap at Hollywood Park. He continued racing until age five, placing second in the Gr. 2 Native Diver Handicap, third in the Sport Page Handicap, and fourth in the Gr. 1 Californian Stakes and Palos Verdes Handicap. In total, Hawkin’s Special made 14 starts, won six races, and earned $131,726, the equivalent of about $430,000 today.

A photo of Hawkin’s Special from his stallion advertisement in Speedhorse.
Taylor’s Special, a Thoroughbred stallion by Hawkin’s Special, won over $1 million on the track. Photo via All Breed Database.

Hawkin’s Special eventually stood at the Lazy E Ranch in Guthrie, Oklahoma, but his first foals arrived while he was still racing. Taylor’s Special, a bay Thoroughbred colt out of Bette’s Gold, by Espea, was among his first foal crop. As a three-year-old, Taylor’s Special won the Gr. 2 Louisiana Derby and Gr. 1 Kentucky Bluegrass Stakes. He placed 13th in the 1984 Kentucky Derby and fourth in the Preakness Stakes. As an older horse, Taylor’s Special won the Gr. 2 Washington Park Handicap, Count Fleet Sprint Handicap, Chaucer Cup, Issac Murphy Handicap, Hot Springs Handicap, Pelleteri Handicap and River City Stakes. He also set a new track record at Arlington for six furlongs in 1:08.00. In total, Taylor’s Special made 41 starters, won 21 races, and earned $1,065,805 on the track. At stud, he sired four stakes winners. He died in 2006 at Old Friends.

Other successful Thoroughbred starters by Hawkin’s Special include Forkintheroad, Special Test, Special Victory, Banker’s Special, Vanita’s Special, Sun Special, Special Set, Special Land, Opryland Special and Ou Special. Their achievements on the track made Hawkin’s Special a leading Thoroughbred sire in Oklahoma. His best Quarter Horse starter, Scarey, was a gray gelding out of Northern Glow, by Chick’s Pitti Rock. Scarey earned a Superior Race Horse award and placed in several black-type stakes races. In total, Hawkin’s Special sired 503 Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse foals in 14 foal crops. His progeny included 262 race winners, 27 ROM earners, and 12 black-type stakes winners, with earnings of $7,144,914.

R Magic Moment, an Appaloosa Champion mare by Hawkin’s Special. Photo via All Breed Database.

Not included in those totals are the accomplishments of his Appaloosa offspring. Hawkin’s Special had at least three Appaloosa daughters – Very Special Lady, She’s Sunny and R Magic Moment. The most successful of those daughters, R Magic Moment, was bred in Utah by the Wagon Wheel Ranch. She was out of the champion Appaloosa mare, Nellies Girl. R Special Moment raced for her breeder with trainer W. Lewis Wartchow. At two, she won the Star of Stars Futurity in Frenso, California and was named the Appaloosa Champion 2-Year-Old Distance Filly. As a three-year-old, she won an Allowance at Pleasanton, a Derby at Santa Rosa, and a Derby at Los Alamitos. She earned the honors of California Champion Appaloosa. At four, R Magic Moment set a new track record at Stockton that stood for several years. She earned an ApHC bronze racing medallion for three consecutive years. In total, R Magic Moment made 20 starts, won 11 races, and earned $110,795 on the track. She was inducted into the Appaloosa Horse Club Racing Hall of Fame in 2003.

Smoked Silver, aka “Nirvana,” a Thoroughbred mare by Hawkin’s Special with owner Jill Henneberg at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event.

Hawkin’s Special had several offspring do well in Eventing and other English disciplines. After failing to win a race, Smoked Silver, a Thoroughbred mare by Hawkin’s Special and out of Deep Yallah, was purchased by Jill Henneberg. Jill named the mare “Nirvana.” In 1996, Jill and Nirvana were on the USA Eventing Team at the Olympics in Atlanta. The team won the Silver Medal. Hawkin’s Special also sired Treaty, a bay gelding that won only $30 on the track but went on to win the 1994 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event with Julie Gomena. Furthermore, Colt Forty Four, a stallion by Hawkin’s Special, sired several Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse mares that produced AQHA point-earners in Hunter Under Saddle, Hunter Hack and Show Jumping. His daughters, Itbegone and Gina Bird, also produced an AQHA Champions and World Champions in English disciplines.

Christina Mulford and Panamascharlieharly, a grandson of Hawkin’s Special.

Hawkin’s Special made an impact on the western industry as well. Several of his Quarter Horse daughters, including Special Words, Cruising Cookie, and Litas Special produced winners on the racetrack and in the barrel pen. Most notably, Panamascharlieharly, aka “Harley,” a gray gelding by Panama Edition and out of Special Triangle, by Hawkin’s Special, has nearly $100,000 in barrel racing earnings reported to Equi-Stat. During his career, Harley has won the NBHA Colonial Super Show, Tri-K Winter Blast, Heart of America PRCA, Cushing Community Rodeo, Cecil County Fair & Rodeo, Cumberland County Fair Rodeo, and the Cowtown Rodeo. Most recently, Harley and his rider Christina Mulford swept all the rounds at the 2022 First Frontier Circuit Finals. At age 22, Harley is one of the most competitive older barrel horses in the sport.

Hawkin’s Special passed away in 1996 at 21 years old. He left a legacy of versatility and talent in three different breeds.

Sources: Equineline, Equibase, Bloodhorse, Speedhorse, Eventing Nation, All Breed Database

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