Reaching $500,000 in offspring earnings is a bar that few Paint producers have surpassed, and it seemed no mare would be able to surpass the No. 1 Lifetime Leading Dam spot long-held by Got A Grip at $605,020—that is, until one mare and her trio of offspring changed the game.
On April 25, Game Chicken—a 2003 chestnut solid Paint-bred mare by Game Patriot (QH) and out of Kickin Chicken, bred and owned by Shirley Wheeler of Boynton, Oklahoma—got the final push to make her No. 1 APHA’s Lifetime Leading Dam of Racehorses by Money Earned, tallying $607,474. In doing so, she usurped the great broodmare Got A Grip, dam of five-time racing World Champion Got Country Grip, who had held the No. 1 spot since mid-2010.
Last spring, Game Chicken became only the third mare to reach $500,000 in offspring earnings on the racetrack. She reached the benchmark in impressive fashion, doing so in only two-and-a-half years with three runners: Flashthechicks, Imachickenkicker and Imflashinthechicks.
The earner of $19,000 on the track herself, it was as a broodmare that Game Chicken has really taken flight. She represents more than 40 years of breeding by Shirley and her husband, Jim.
“It’s been a lot of hard work and a lot of expense and a lot of luck—just a lot of blessings that God’s given us with her,” Shirley said. “We’ve had some pretty rough years where we didn’t have much of anything to run. A lot of people go for a few years, get discouraged and quit. There were a lot of times I got pretty discouraged—you see money going in and not much return, and it kind of gets you down. But Jim hung in there. It means quite a bit to see one of your mares do what Game Chicken has done.”
Reflecting on his mare’s accomplishments, Jim calls the journey “exhilarating” and has nothing but praise for Game Chicken.
“Well, I think she’s the best-producing mare I’ve ever owned,” he said. “As far as Paints, I guess she’s one of the best Paint producers that ever was, with just three starters. She’s about as good-looking a mare as I’ve ever seen in my life. She’s still fairly young—she’s 11 now—so hopefully I can raise four or five more out of her and keep a few of her daughters.”