Les Nichols

Les Nichols

Cowboy at J.J.

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LES NICHOLS' 9/11 FUNDRAISING COMPANION J. J.'S COWBOY VICTIM OF HEAT COLICSix weeks after the September 11, 2001 destruction of the World Trade Center, TTA member Les Nichols and his trusty steed, J. J.'s Cowboy, gained national attention for their cross-country fundraising ride from the Alamo to Ground Zero to benefit the New York Firefighters 9/11 Disaster Relief Fund and the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association Widows and Children Fund.Their arrival in Manhattan on July 4, 2001 was covered on national television.Nichols sold sponsorships and raffle tickets to raise money throughout his journey with J. J.'s Cowboy of more than 2,000 miles.They were quartered in firehouses at several stops en route.Earlier this week, Nichols called the office to sadly advise that J. J.s' Cowboy had succumbed to heat colic.Nichols had purchased the 14-year-old gelding as a yearling and trained him to make 53 starts in eight years and accumulate more than $64,000 in earnings while racing at tracks in Louisiana and Texas. TWO CHANGES MADE TO NORTH AMERICAN BLACK TYPE GUIDELINES FOR 2006

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Trainer Les Nichols and his veteran racehorse J. J.'s Cowboy pulled into Philadelphia Park on Thursday and the 11-year-old gelding breezed three furlongs "in an easy :37," Nichols said. Nichols is riding J. J.'s Cowboy from San Antonio to Ground Zero in New York City to support of the New York Firefighters' 9-11 Disaster Relief Fund and the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association Widows and Children's Fund. Nichols said that he has no idea how much money his campaign, which he calls the American Posse, has raised so far, but his goal is $2-million.American Posse raises money mostly through by-the-mile and corporate sponsorships, raffle ticket sales, and donations to a silent auction that will be held when Nichols arrives in New York. After spending the day and night resting in the Philadelphia area, Nichols and J. J.'s Cowboy will hit the road on Friday to begin the 20-day journey to New York City.After a stop at Monmouth Park, among other places in New Jersey, Nichols expects to be heading to Manhattan Island at 10 a.m. on July 4 on the Staten Island Ferry. After the cross-country journey is complete, Nichols would like to find a race for his horse. "That's why I worked him," Nichols said."I want him eligible to race.I'll probably work him a little faster next time at Monmouth and then see where we're at.If I find the right race for us, then we'll probably either run [at Monmouth] or at Philly Park." J. J.'s Cowboy has not raced since August 20, 2000, when he finished sixth in an allowance race at Retama Park.A son of Jerimi Johnson, J. J.'s Cowboy has won seven of 53 career starts and has placed 16 times while earning $64,021.

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Les Nichols made memorable trip to Ground Zero More than four years have passed since terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center and more than three years have come and gone since trainer Les Nichols saddled up for a ride that would take him from his native Texas all the way to Ground Zero in New York City.Nevertheless, the memories of the journey he made with his "American Posse" still burn deep, particularly after the recent death of one of the team's integral members. Nichols, who was so moved by the heroism Americans showed after the events of September 11, 2001, that he decided to ride from Texas to Ground Zero to help raise money for families of the victims, suffered a loss of his own when his mount in the trip, J. J.'s Cowboy, was euthanized on September 6 after a bout with colic. The 15-year-old gelding by Jerimi Johnson had been in good health at Nichols's ranch in Celeste, Texas, prior to getting cast in his stall and subsequently suffering from colic.Nichols buried J. J.'s Cowboy on a hill on his property, facing west. "He's headed West, the last part of the country we never conquered," Nichols said earlier this fall."Putting him down was the hardest thing I ever did in my life.I guess it was because I knew it was final.It was the worst day in my life, and it was on my birthday.I've had a lot of good friends in my life, but he was the best I've ever had. "People fall in love with these $1-million, $2-million earners, but so many horses have awesome stories behind them," Nichols said."He had a pretty good one, being an $850 weanling, to a winner, to a black-type [earner]." Trained throughout his career by Nichols and campaigned in Louisiana and Texas, J. J.'s Cowboy won seven of 53 career starts with ten seconds and six thirds and earned $64,021.Even though he finished second in the 1994 Star of Texas Handicap at Trinity Meadows, J. J.'s Cowboy's days on the racetrack never figure to be recorded in the annals of Thoroughbred racing history.His place as a key member of the American Posse that made the unique nine-month journey to New York is, however, guaranteed. Nichols estimates that J. J.'s Cowboy, a backup horse named Sand Track, and his dog Posse traveled about 2,000 miles during their trek from San Antonio to New York, not including the time spent off the trail in parades or at rallies to support the cause.The group traveled about 20 to 30 miles per day and through more than 150 cities and towns, including a stop that would profoundly affect Nichols shortly after the journey was complete. During a stop in Memphis, Tennessee, Nichols met a woman who eventually became his wife and the mother of his only son, the now seven-month old Colton Nichols.

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