Foaled in May 1971, Royal Santana was born famous. He was the son of “Peppy San who was an AQHA Champion, a two time National Cutting Horse Association Champion and a member of both the AQHA and NCHA Halls of Fame. He was out of Royal Smart by Royal King.
From C. N. Woodward’s vast Douglas Lake Cattle Co. ranch in British Columbia, Royal Santana was sent for training as a two year old to Matlock Rose. Matlock had shown Peppy San to the 1967 NCHA World Championship.
Frank Merrill bought Royal Santana in 1985 and Windward Stud became a virtual “Fountain of Youth” for the horse. Robin showed Santana to the AQHA high point cutting title and a sixth place finish in the in amateur cutting at the AQHA World Championship Show in 1986. Their daughter, McKenzie, rode the gelding to the AQHA Youth cutting title and sixth place in the AQHA Youth World Championship Show in 1988. In 1990 Royal Santana took McKenzie to win both the high point youth cutting title and the AQHYA World Championship.
But an AQ\A World Championship title still eluded Santana, so in 1991 Frank decided to give it one more try.
After watching Robin score a 218 on Barb Olena, Frank knew he had to score big to win. Frank cut cows that would challenge Santana, and his last one was a charger Brahma-cross that caused Santana to dig deep. When the dust settled, their 220.5 score lasted through 13 more runs to the AQHA Amateur World Championship/
In a world where youth is sought, admired and acclaimed, Royal Santana defied the odds when he won his first AQHA World Championship title at age 20.
He went on to place three more times in youth cutting competition and once more in amateur cutting, In his lifetime he won more than $171,500 in cutting competition and spawned a legion of memories.
Royal Santana died in 1995 and was buried next to the arena named in his honor at Merrill’s Windward Stud ranch.
Royal; Santana was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2000, and we are privileged to induct him into the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Hall of Fame.