KIE AND DONNA MUSHINSKI LONGTIME SUPPORTERS OF SAM HOUSTON RACE PARK AND TEXAS QUARTER HORSE RACING
By Martha Claussen
HOUSTON, TX – Peaceful moments are sometimes few and fleeting in our world, but Kie and Donna Mushinski find them almost every morning when they see their past, present and future Quarter Horses running in the pasture.
The couple has been married for 52 years and breed horses on their 40-acre farm in Hearne, Texas, about 106 miles northwest of Houston.
Kie Mushinski knew at a young age that horses were his calling. Fortunately, his high school sweetheart Donna Gregurek shared his passion. He began training a decade before pari-mutuel racing was passed by the Texas Legislature and well before Equibase began tracking official records for Quarter Horse racing.
The couple attended their first horse sale in Brady, Texas in 1982 and signed a $2,000 ticket for a mare named Wars April Delight. She had a short racing career but played an important role in their breeding operation.
“That was a lot of money back then,” said Donna. “She only made five starts before we began breeding her and she rewarded us with Blue Ribbon Dash. We owe so much to her as our foundation mare.”
Donna bred Wars April Delight to First Place Dash and Blue Ribbon Dash was born on their ranch on February 20, 2001. He made 58 starts from 2003 to 2011 with a record of 10 wins, 12 seconds and 15 third-place finishes. He broke his maiden at Sam Houston Race Park in 2003 and competed in three editions of the Texas Distance Challenge (G3), capturing the 2009 final with Jimmy “Diamond” Brooks in the saddle. Kie retired the AQHA and TQHA champion racing distance runner in 2011 following his fourth-place finish in an 870-yard Handicap at Retama Park.
“He had never lost a distance race when he drew the rail until that night,” said Kie. “So, we brought him home and he still enjoys running in the pasture.”
“With a harem of girls around him,” added Donna.
Wars April Delight was the dam of Miss Mary Dee, and her daughter Dm Bella Mia produced another exceptional runner for the couple. Donna bred her to Moonin the Eagle and Dm Moonpie was foaled on March 29, 2019. The striking gray gelding also broke his maiden at Sam Houston and was honored as 2022 TQHA High Point Leader.
Both give credit to their team, on the farm and at the racetrack. Especially during foaling season, the days begin with 4:30 am feedings and never ends at 5:00 pm.
Breeding racing champions is a labor of love for Donna. Through the years, they have also produced many quality barrel racing horses.
“Some of our horses are not fast enough to compete on the straightaway,” said Kie. “But that doesn’t mean they don’t have talent.”
Mushinski won the TQHA Sires’ Cup Futurity (G3) with Eye Am Tuff, but truly excels with his distance runners.
“I am never in a hurry to run them too early,” he explained. “Many of our distance horses have the Beduino blood and they seem to favor running further down the track.”
A slew of Texas horsemen have left Texas in favor of running in Louisiana as there are 146 Quarter Horse days offered annually in meets at Louisiana Downs, Delta Downs at Evangeline Downs. Purses are enhanced with casinos, sports wagering and off track betting locations. The Quarter Horse calendar culminates with the seven-figure LQHBA Louisiana Million each December at Evangeline Downs.
But the Mushinskis remained loyal to Texas racing, supporting each of the tracks and the annual TQHA Yearling Sale in San Antonio. Kie has served in a number of capacities for the Texas Quarter Horse Association and Texas Horsemen’s Partnership.
“I choose to serve on committees and share the updates with my fellow trainers,” he said. “If I can make it better for the next generation, I am happy to devote my time.”
Rob Werstler, TQHA Executive Director, has the utmost respect for the couple.
“You will never meet two nicer people than Donna and Kie,” said Werstler. “They have been loyal supporters of Texas racing for decades and are always willing to help.”
“Bringing new owners to Texas racing has always been a goal for us as a couple,” Donna explained. “We will partner with people interested in owning a racehorse, helping them get started and sharing our knowledge of the sport.”
On opening weekend at Sam Houston Race Park, Dm Moonpie made the first start of his 4-year-year-old season, running third in an 870-yard allowance. Following the race, Kie and Donna watched the races, enjoying the balmy evening with a well-attended mix of fans of all ages. The winning connections of the third race whooped and hollered as their runner surged past the wire.
“If you can’t be happy rooting for your horse, something must be wrong with you,” said Donna.
Nothing is wrong with this horse-loving couple, who have been a part of Sam Houston Race Park since the track opened in 1994. We are lucky to have their continued support and wish them the best this season!
Sam Houston Race Park Quarter Horse Racing Post Times
Racing will take place Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 6:15 pm (Central) with special post times of 10:30 am (Central) for Kentucky Derby Day on Saturday, May 6; the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, May 20 and the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 10. The 2023 Quarter Horse meet continues through Saturday, June 17. Visit shrp.com for further information on live racing and special events.
About Sam Houston Race Park
Sam Houston Race Park is Houston’s premier racing and entertainment facility, located just 15 miles from downtown Houston. Owned by Penn Entertainment Inc., the racetrack, which opened in 1994, offers a variety of attractions including a Suite Level featuring luxurious suites overlooking the racetrack, The Pavilion Centre, and award-winning dining options at the Winner’s Circle Restaurant and the Jockey Club. For more information on upcoming live racing, shows, events and tickets, please visit www.shrp.com.
Photos: Coady Photography