October 21st, 2009
Our paths crossed when I was a singer in Philadelphia and Jim had a successful nightclub. But, it was our love of Arabian horse racing that kept the friendship going.
Jim started his horse-breeding program about fifty years ago in North Dakota, but it was those Philadelphia years that really made the difference for him. Being a tall man (well over 6 feet) he wanted "more daylight" under his horses, and he was shopping for the right stallion. He was in Florida checking out some possibilities, when he noticed a young stallion being tacked up for a breeze on the track. That young stallion was a national champion in several European countries and he had just been crowned a world champion at the Salon du Cheval in Paris. Like Jim, he was masculine and tall. He was impressive (standing well over 16 Hands) and he would change the look of Selket Arabians forever. His name was *Furno Khamal.
Jim went back to Philadelphia and pulled together an offer for Khamal, whose owner in Holland laughed it off and said, "That couldn't even buy one of Khamal's legs!" (Jim's offer was a quarter million dollars). But, the following year, an agreement was reached and Khamal, along with several important mares, belonged to Jim.
Over the years, there were many Arabian horse lovers who discovered the power and magnificence of *Furno Khamal. Being a designer at heart, Jim traveled the world for mares that were right for his stallion. They came from Germany, Russia, Poland, Canada and the U.S. They were the dams of national champions in halter, performance and racing. His efforts paid off. He had some of the most beautiful racing Arabians in the world, and in the halter ring as well.
Today, all of the Selket Arabians are related to *Furno Khamal and the mares Jim found for him. Our collection of Khamal daughters is the largest in the world, and, among our herd are their offspring to Marwan Al Shaqab, Ghazal al Shaqab, Da Vinci FM, Selket Marquis and a few others. Our Khamal son, Selket Advocate (out of an Aswan daughter) is here with us. Selket Angelo, a Khamal grandson, was one of Jim's favorite's. Selket Mystery (belonging to Amy Pahl in New York) is a stallion of which we are very proud, but it is Selket Louchiano who became a real ambassador for the breed when he was featured in our TV documentary (Fate of the Stallion) which has, so far, been broadcast to more than 500 TV stations across the country and abroad. Jim was very pleased about that accomplishment, and a brief scene of him playing with Louchiano in the film was wonderful to see.
Jim admired and loved Russian-blooded Arabians, and infusing the right kind of Russian blood into his horses was one of Jim's secrets. With that in mind, Jim was a co-founder of the Russian Heritage Foundation, managed by Joanne Ogden, at Aurora Wind Arabians in Canada. This program, modeled after the Tersk Stud in Russia, is a living, working herd of horses encompassing some of the rarest Russian bloodlines in the world. Jim lived to see a tremendous herd assembled, assuring the availability of priceless Russian blood to serious Arabian breeders for many years to come. I like to think he did this for someone carrying on his work at Selket Arabians. Thank you, Jim. Being your partner was the greatest adventure of my life. I hope you are racing your chariot across the desert sands, adorned in gold, fighting for the empire that was ours and empires yet to come. I hope you guide your friends and loved ones wisely, and don't laugh too hard at us for any mistakes we make along the way. We won't make too many. You've got to admit, we had a pretty good teacher.