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The Passing Of A Great One...Cherry’s Dream Boy

Whether it be human athletes or show horses, there are only an exceptional few individuals who can reach a peak of greatness and then sustain that level over and over, year after year. One such individual was Cherry’s Dream Boy. When retired at the American Royal in 1989 he went down in history as one of the greatest long tails of all time. Nearly 15 years later he left his best friend, Mary Gaylord McClean, at the age of 27. His status as arguably the greatest has only strengthened.

Bred by Oliver Cherry of Murray, Ky., Cherry’s Dream Boy was a son of the great Carnation’s King and out of the mare Sun Jewel. Upon the recommendation of legendary pony trainer Lyle Hartman who had shown Carnations’ King to four world’s championships, Dream Boy was sent to John Shea as a coming two year old.

“He [Oliver Cherry] had one broodmare and he always bred her to Carnation’s King,” said Shea. “He didn’t know me at the time but Lyle had told him to send Dream Boy to me. I sold him to Eva Clifton as a three-year-old and then Mary [Gaylord McClean] bought him from Eva as a six-year-old. He spent his whole show career here with me.”

According to Shea, Dream Boy had a world of talent but the stallion with the long white tail was slow to mature.

“He was five or six before we really got him where we wanted,” recalled Shea. “We knew it was there, it just took a while to get everything just right.”

And when they did it was all over for the competition. In 1983 Dream Boy won Harness Pony Championships at Phoenix, Pin Oak, Rock Creek, the Illinois State Fair, Minnesota State Fair, and the American Royal. This was a green stallion taking on all challengers.

Showing was what Cherry’s Dream Boy was all about. He had a beautiful bend in his neck and he went as high as any pony you’ve ever seen. Just when you didn’t think he could possibly go any higher he did! During a period from 1985 to 1989 he won hundreds of championships in 15 different states. He was the UPHA Harness Pony Of The Year from 1986 to 1989; the Harness Pony Grand Champion at Lexington Junior League four consecutive years; the Harness Pony Grand Champion at Baton Rouge five consecutive years; the Harness Pony Stallion/Gelding World’s Champion from 1985 to ‘88; and the Harness Pony World’s Grand Champion from 1986 to 1989.

"We stayed on the road. I think we went to every horse show in the country,” said Mary Gaylord McClean. “We’d start at Tampa and finish at Kansas City. Some years I think we made 20 shows and he was the same each and every time we went to the ring. I’ve never seen anything like him. Today’s horses and ponies are lucky to show a handful of times in a year.”

Retired at the American Royal in 1989, Cherry’s Dream Boy then called the lush pastures of Golden Creek Farm in Simpsonville, Ky., home where he was again a unique pony. Dream Boy was pasture bred and had a way with “his girls.” He would herd them and watch over them like no other. Foals were also born right there in the same field. He loved his kids.

“We were best friends,” McClean fondly remembered. “He loved me and I love him. He really trusted me. I’d go on walks and call him and he’d come running over to me like a dog would. He was so kind.

“This weekend at Bud Willimon’s birthday party several people had heard he died and were talking about him to Jeff [McClean] and I. I thought the neatest thing was Jeff told Nelson [Green], ‘When I first came here I wondered why Mary had four of the same pictures of Dream Boy out in the same room. It turned out it wasn’t four of the same pictures they were from each year he won the stake at Louisville but there wasn’t an ounce of difference between them.’ That sums him up. He was so consistent, so wonderful to show and breed.”

Bred to be a champion, Dream Boy passed those same qualities on to his get. A few of his notables included Masterbilt, Shamask, Royal Canadian, Bill Bailey, Dreamaire, Steppenwolf, Atta Boy, Belle Starr, Miss Bluegrass, Dream Boy’s Magic, Game Boy, Dream Machine, Sam Sara, Tatinger, Match Maker, Cherry Royale as well as the breeding stallions Cherry and Mastercraft (the sire of World’s Grand Champion Bruschetta).

Looking back on the career of this personable star of the show ring and breeding shed, John Shea summed it up. “He was the best. His willingness to do things and his ability to do it, made him the best.”

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