Hollywood At Dawn
By Theresa Ann Warden
Thirteen may be an unlucky number to some but not to Gerald Free. He had been raising good King bred horses for thirteen years when he ran across the grulla grandson of King, Hollywood At Dawn, and decided to add him to his breeding program. Today, six years later, he knows he made a good choice. Hollywood At Dawn has a number of qualities that point to him succeeding as a sire. . . Top blood close-up in his pedigree, a proven performance record, siring ability, and a pretty color thrown in as a frosting on the cake.
Hollywood At Dawn was already proven in the shown ring when Free acquired him. He had been campaigned on the Florida IBHA "buckskin" circuits earning halter points, and Grand and Reserve Championships. But most his success came in the performance arena. He earned a total of 21 IBHA performance points and a ROM in Western Riding.
The broodmare band that awaited the stallion on his arrival to Georgia was enough to make any one sit up and take notice. Gerald Free liked King, and he liked King horses. Grazing in those Jefferson, Georgia pastures were daughters of immortal King sons like Continental King (King x Sue Hunt), and Joe Hank (King x Queen H). In fact, Joe Hank was a full sister to Hollywood At Dawn’s dam, Queen Dawn. And they were both full siblings to other great King sons and daughters from that same cross - Squaw H, Hank H, and Booger H.
By crossing Hollywood at Dawn back on to his Joe Hank mares, Gerald Free was getting a double dose of good linebreeding, first to King and secondly to one of AQHA’s all time leading dams, Queen H, a granddaughter of Old Joe Bailey.
Of course, no one was scoffing at the top side of this grulla horses pedigree. Hollywood Bill was an AQHA Superior Cutting horse by the legend Hollywood Gold, and "Bill" had a siring record to prove that he had inherited a lot from his daddy. Hollywood Bill sired 59 performers out of 305 total foals. Those 59 get earned 28 Performance ROM’s, 1 AQHA Championship, 2 Superior Performance Awards, 1 World Champion, 1 Reserve World Champion, 1 Honor Roll Youth Horse Championship, and a total of over 1000 AQHA Performance points. You might say that Hollywood At Dawn brought his "credentials" with him to Georgia.
Yet, you won’t find any golden initials on the gates leading to Gerald Free’s ranch. According to Gerald, he and his wife Paula are just regular folks. He works construction and she is a school teacher. Even though they have some of the best cutting and reining blood to be found they enjoy their horses mostly by just trail riding on them. Gerald says one of their favorite outings is to pack up into the Georgia mountains and camp for a weekend - he rides "Hollywood". Gerald says that his son is the one that likes competitive events and does pretty well team penning off of one of Hollywood At Dawns’ colts. But the primary focus of their breeding program, besides just raising good horses that they like, is selling breeding stock and performance prospects.
One of their very satisfied customers is Tom Radrick of Tipp City, Ohio who makes regular trips to Gerald’s to scout out reining prospects. Radrick says they have done pretty good with the horses that he and his trainer Shawn Flaherty have picked out over the years. He says that from 1989-1993 they showed seven futurity horses, most came from Gerald Free and all seven made the futurity finals.
Radrick has known Gerald Free for a number of years and he remembers when he first brought Hollywood At Dawn home. Though Free was, as usual, a little conservative about the horse, Radrick rode him and was really impressed with the "way he moved . . . his breeding". To help assure Free that he had made a good choice on his purchase of the stallion, Radrick picked out two of Gerald Free’s mares - one by Continental King, the other by Joe Hank. He told Free that if he would breed those two mares to Hollywood At Dawn he would buy their foals sight unseen, and pick them up as yearlings.
Free thought this sounded like a sure thing, so he bred the two mares, Continental Cherry and Snugglie Hank to Hollywood At Dawn. The next year around summer, Radrick called to check on his foals. Free’s response was typically reserved and he said something to the affect that the fillies were "okay". But Radrick had to see for himself. He made the trip from Ohio to Georgia to check on his purchases. Radrick laughed, recalling Free’s comments about the fillies. For when he saw them, (a dun and a grulla to boot), he said, "They were outstanding fillies!"
Radrick says he has ridden a number of the Hollywood at Dawn get and they are all extremely responsive, and very good minded. He says that some people like to think that Foundation Quarter Horses can be a little "cold blooded". He says - not so. The Hollywood At Dawn babies are as responsive as you could want.
Gerald Free is still enjoying his King horses, and his broodmare band still boasts three daughters of Continental King and a number of their daughters.
Hollywood At Dawn died in June of 2004.
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