Janice and Robert McNair, owners of Stonerside Stable, announced that any earnings by their homebred Cowboy Cal in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) will be donated to the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston in memory of John Long.
It was John Long who gave the nickname “Cowboy Cal” to the McNairs’ son Cal 34 years ago. John, the son of David and Mellie Long, was just 3 at the time and fighting cancer. Reverend and Mrs. Long had brought their son to Houston when their hometown doctor in Columbia, S.C., told them M. D. Anderson was the best place for John’s treatment.
Friends since college, the Longs stayed with the McNairs during their time in Houston. The McNairs were frequent visitors to John’s hospital room, and John took a liking to Cal, who was 13 at the time. He started calling him “Cowboy Cal” because Cal always wore cowboy boots and hats, and enjoyed riding horses.
John lost his battle with cancer two months shy of his fourth birthday. The McNairs have never forgotten him, or the nickname he gave to Cal.
“Years later, when we started breeding and racing Thoroughbreds, that name came back to us as something we’d like to use for one of our special horses.” Robert McNair said. “Now, having been blessed with a horse of Cowboy Cal’s talent, we thought it would be appropriate to donate his earnings to the fight against cancer, and specifically to a fund set up in John’s memory.”
Reverend and Mrs. Long will be the McNairs’ guests at the Derby this year.
Bred in Kentucky by Stonerside, Cowboy Cal (Giant’s Causeway—Texas Tammy, by Seeking the Gold) has won placed in five of six starts and earned $314,708. He captured this year’s Tropical Park Derby (gr. IIIT) and ran second in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) in his last start.
The M. D. Anderson Cancer Center ranks as one of the world's most respected centers focused on cancer patient care, research, education, and prevention. M. D. Anderson is one of only 39 Comprehensive Cancer Centers designated by the National Cancer Institute.