Weatherford Democrat

Columns

September 1, 2011

Pulling for the pink

WEATHERFORD — Unless entries in Ruidoso Downs’ annual All American Futurity have names honoring God, country, motherhood or apple pie, look for A Lot of Love for Robyn to be the sentimental favorite.

She’s the filly in pink silks with black accents in the world’s richest horse race for quarter horses. The 440-yard race has a $2.6 million purse in what some are calling “the race for the cure.”

The pink is a tribute to Komen cancer research. And black was the favorite color of the late Robyn Williams, who drove black cars, was buried in a black casket and whose grave is marked by a black headstone. She died of colon cancer in January at age 38.

In the Ruidoso gallery will be 200 fans in pink shirts and blouses to honor Robyn’s memory. Cheering will be folks from O’Donnell, Texas, and surrounding territory. Others pulling for the same horse will be co-workers from University Medical Center in Lubbock, where Robyn was nursing director in the critical care unit for seven years.

Owning another race horse wasn’t on Robyn’s bucket list when the transaction went down last year. Her husband of 22 years, Brad Williams, and his business partner, Wayne Barton, overruled. Their trainer, John Bassett, completed the euphoric trio. After all, their “Political Connection” had won a Ruidoso day race only hours earlier.

Barton, with Bassett egging him on, was a vigorous bidder. In fact, he outbid himself, taking the offer from $70,000 to $75,000 before claiming the animal for $80,000. Oh, he also forgot his checkbook, so he asked Brad to pay up.

Robyn had made it clear to Brad that her “druthers” last fall called for a new swimming pool.

“Shucks, you’ve already got a swimming pool,” her hubby countered, sure that the new pool would set him back by $70,000. “They don’t accept trade-ins of second hand pools,” he reminded.

“OK, Brad,” she responded. “Just don’t think for a minute that you’re going to buy another race horse.”

She soon mellowed, particularly when A Lot of Love’s name took on two more words — “for Robyn.”

Broken and trained on Bassett’s Arizona ranch, the brown maiden has been in Ruidoso since May. She was 13th of 250 in trials for the Rainbow Futurity and was second overall among 256 entries in the All American trials.

Williams and Barton are majority owners.

Friends pulling for the horse are “tried and true” folks who have been through more “thick and thin” than Abbott and Costello. They’re mostly farmers, raising mostly cotton. Williams farms 10,000 acres near O’Donnell, his hometown. He and Barton are also in the farm chemical business.

Women in O’Donnell planned the wedding of the Williams’ daughter, Shelby. Robyn, of course, had hoped to do the “mother things” associated with the wedding, but her malignancy worsened.

 The original March date had to be moved forward. Nuptials were held last December. Robyn struggled, but was able to attend the wedding of her only child. Always the romantic herself, Robyn took on matrimony at age 16, a drop-out at Lubbock Coronado High School. She later completed nursing training at Texas Tech.

Her hubby, ostensibly in Lubbock to attend college, chose courtship over scholarship, and they were off to O’Donnell as man and wife.

Shelby and her hubby, Brandon Tomlinson, are in O’Donnell, too, helping her dad with his business interests. Her biggest chore now, though, is reminding Brad and his business partner that they aren’t kids anymore.

Like her mom, Shelby makes idle threats, wondering how long Brad and Wayne will describe their shenanigans as “childish pranks.”

“Mom and Kathy (Wayne’s wife) were always vowing to ground ‘em, a good distance apart,” Shelby said.

So, 2011 Labor Day will be “Robyn’s Day” as well. There will be cheers all around. Shelby, to deliver Brad’s first grandchild come January, will try to rein in her dad — if possible.

Look for the race results. Be assured that University Medical Center folks are intensely interested. The widower, with an entry that has never finished “out of the money,” has promised to share his winnings with the hospital whose folks “took such good care of my wife.”

Absent at the track will be Chuck Bonds, Brad’s uncle who didn’t invest in the horse. “You’ll never see a horse betting on a man’s race,” Bonds laughed. “Besides that, I’m way short on teeth until my new bridge is put in, and I don’t want people poking fun at me.”

Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Metroplex. Send inquiries/comments to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.

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