||He was born in Old Guerrero, Tamps,
Mexico, and they moved to Laredo when he was ten. After graduating from
Holding Institute in Laredo, he was sent to Allen Military Academy in Bryan,
Texas, then to Texas A. & M. College for two years. Returning to Laredo
he worked in a dry goods store, but spent what spare time he could with
people involved with horse racing in towns along the Rio Grande. After
his mother's death he married Damiana Garza, living on little in Laredo,
then renting that house out, they moved to ranch land that he inherited.
He knew horses, being born to them - his father, Don Servando Benavides
being a rancher and racing man - and being an enthusiast in his own right.
Some while after moving out of Laredo oil was discovered on his land, which
provided the means to acquire some animals of real quality.
The first of real significance was Camaron, (Texas Chief x Mamie Crowder)
bred by William Shely, and he continued to develop the quality and quantity
of his animals, becoming a major presence in QH racing. Meanwhile, in Alice,
Ott Adams had produced Zantanon and sold him (with two others) at eleven
months to to Erasmo Flores of Nuevo Laredo, just across the border from
Laredo Texas. Quoting Mr. Volpe - "Immediately after my friend Erasmo Flores
bought these colts, his uncle, Don Eutiquio Flores, being his neighbor
also, was so impressed by the horse colts that after a long and insistent
discussion my friend Erasmo sold both colts to Don Eutiquio, who began
training the 14-month old Zantanon. I regret to say that all measures involved
in the training were so hard that I now know it was not only extravagant
and foolish, but it was the most unjust burden ever imposed on any horse;
I still do not understand how the poor animal could stand it."
Zantanon was absolutely not for sale while Don Eutiquio lived, but Mr.
Volpe was able to buy the animal from his heirs for $500, considered an
outrageous price in 1931. He said that - "Everyone, especially my father,
criticized me for paying so much for a 14 year old horse, but it was not
long until many horsemen desired his service, which I did not permit."
He had not seen the horse in a long time, and had doubts about the purchase
upon delivery, saying "The horse was in the most deplorable condition imaginable;
he was so poor and weak he could hardly walk."
|He goes on to say - "After Zantanon had won his
first races, my father, who possessed valuable resources, determined to
belittle the merits of Zantanon." - and that those efforts were unsuccessful
- "Zantanon beat my father's best horses in more than half a dozen races."
right - this is the only picture I have seen of Zantanon in
his youth, about 4. Hopefully someone will find and publish a better copy
of it one day.
[As to that price, Mr. Volpe bred and sold King to Charlie Alexander,
who sold him to Byrne James. He, in turn, loaned him to Win DuBose, who
eventually purchased him for $500. When Jess Hankins later bought him for
$800 he was also considered foolish for spending so much, although he evidently
did not punish his critics by withholding stud service - which I would,
too - punish them, that is.]
It appears that in the middle 30's Mr. Volpe sickened of the behavior
sometimes encountered at events, to quote the article, "the social graces
and moral fiber of many persons who participated in match racing in the
1920's and 1930's left much to be desired", and reacted by selling Zantanon
and "a number" of his best mares to Byrne James. Ultimately regretting
this, he later bought them back, along with most of their produce. The
rest of the article is directed mainly toward Zantanon's offspring, and
while interesting, is a subject for another page, at some future time.
It closes mentioning that Mrs. Volpe died in 1959, and that the Volpe
ranches were being managed by his son, who lived close by with his wife
and children. Also that he sold the last six mares he had in December of
1961, and said that he felt their absence keenly, and that he would always
treasure the friendships that had arisen from his involvement with horses.