Good Bird TB / Walter Merrick
GOOD BIRD TB - was one of several Thoroughbred stallions that Walter Merrick located in his life long quest for sprint horses. If you go back you will find Silver Thistle, Three Bars and many others were in Walter's old wooden corrals somewhere back in history. He would hunt them and get'em.
Good Bird was born in 1956 and was a keen looking slick haired chestnut. I suppose he was well bred, but not a lot in his pedigree would blow my umbrella up. This photo was taken at Quanah, TX on the old B Bar J Ranch professional horse facility. Walter leased the place (1965) when he was standing Three Bars at age 25. As if Three Bars wasn't enough, he had a herd of other speed horses there to keep him busy. The B Bar J would hold several hundred horses, it had beautiful paddocks, a race track, stalls everywhere and a club house on top for VIP guests. Walter spent most of his time in the office right by the huge iron entry gate. B Bar J the "B" stood for Texas investment banker Bill Burford, later from Texas Art Gallery. The "J" was for Johnny T. L. Jones, Jr who has written his name on every race track bathroom wall in 8 countries. (Johnny just won the All American Futurity last year, as if he needed the money)
I have been to most of the big horse farms and seen number bands around every mare's neck during breeding season. There were no numbers at B Bar J when he was standing Three Bars and Good Bird. I ask about it. Walter said, "That's kid stuff." He had every mare memorized and every part of their anatomy. Didn't need numbers.
Good Bird sired Laico Bird, All American Futurity winner owned by Floyd H Jones, Jr, of Perry, OK. Floyd also had Bar Raider standing to a full book of mares right down the road from Bud Warren.
When Laico Bird retired from the track she was the world's richest with wins of $435,654. Good Bird also sired Byou Bird. When there was speed you would see Walter Merrick somewhere around. In fact Walters life time accumulations included 573 starters, 41 stakes winners and earners of more than $6.4 million.
At Ruidoso Downs the high-rollers were in the VIP suites drinking cool ones, but Walter would be horseback on a pony horse, on or near the track, taking care of business. At his ranch he was horseback a lot of the time. Once I arrived at the Merrick Ranch at Sayre, OK and Walter had returning from a trip, expecting me to soon arrive to take promotion photos. Tien said once he returned he saddled up and rode through the mare herds first thing -- he would be to the house soon. Walter had some ankle injuries and went horseback every time possible. His feet hurt all the time. Walter was real.
Author: Darol Dickinson