In early December of 2023, a perlino mare stole the spotlight as she won a runoff to earn the 2023 NRHA Level 4 Open Futurity with Brian Bell at the reins. Her flashy color, gritty style, and superpowered maneuvers earned Crystalized Whizkey (Whizkey N Diamonds x Lonely At The Top) a $350,000 check for owner Wallace Wood.
But before “Disco” could achieve this feat, her dam had to land in the right hands to set the wheels in motion.
Not So Lonely
Brooke Wharton owns Lonely At The Top (Colonels Smoking Gun x Wimpys Little Chic) in partnership with Rob Curtis. The two started as acquaintances and built a friendship and mutual respect for their shared performance horse acumen. Lonely At The Top caught Wharton’s eye in the middle of her futurity season in 2017, and the Fort Worth, Texas, horsewoman couldn’t stop thinking about the mare.
“I was just starting my own business in the reining after my family sold our ranch in 2016, and I was building a breeding program,” Wharton shared. “I was looking for broodmares, but I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted. Then I saw Lonely At The Top run at the High Roller Reining Classic in Las Vegas, and all I could think was wow! Rob Curtis owned her on his own at the time, and I knew he wouldn’t want to sell her, I hoped he would sell me an embryo. He wouldn’t.”
Nevertheless, as their friendship grew over the years, Wharton saw an opportunity to offer to buy half of the mare.
“I must’ve caught Rob at a weak moment,” she joked. “He doesn’t want to keep a large number of horses, so partnering allowed him to keep the babies he wanted. In 2020, we wrote up a contract and I bought half of her.
“She was so incredibly gifted as a show horse,” Wharton continued. “She was capable of doing so much. People always thought she was a stud because she was so big and strong.”
The mare achieved $73,151 in NRHA lifetime earnings in the show pen, but now, as she’s retired to breeding, she stands to have an even bigger influence as a dam to top performers.
More often than not, a performance horse most resembles his or her sire. But sometimes, a mare’s genetic makeup trumps the stallion’s contribution. Wharton sees that as the case in many of Lonely At The Top’s babies.
“Disco is the most like her,” Wharton said. “People thought Disco was a stud, too! Her head looks like a mare, but her body is like a tank and she’s incredibly athletic.”
Wharton recalled seeing a photo of Lonely At The Top as a 2-year-old loping in a hackamore and hearing how easily everything came to her and how effortless she made it look. The same can be said of her NRHA Futurity-winning daughter.
“Brian said Disco learned something and never had to be retaught,” Wharton shared. “Once she got it, it was always there. It was easy to do all the maneuvers, and it allowed steady progress forward in her training.”
As for that color, Wharton said the mare throws all sorts of shades but not a lot of white, depending on the sire.
“Coming from a ranching background, I’ve always been drawn to solid-colored horses,” Wharton said. “I’ve always liked that about her. She’s had mostly fillies of all colors.”
Carrying Her Own
This year marked the first breeding season that Lonely At The Top is carrying her own foal. Wharton shared that her research and that of her trusted veterinarian points to that helping preserve a mare’s fertility, something imperative for a dam of this potential.
“Usually, we choose a stud to breed to so we can improve our mare,” Wharton said. “But I think Lonely At The Top has a lot more to offer than that and can be a dam who improves upon the sire’s traits.”