Dave Newcomb Passes at 83

TAYLORSVILLE, Calif. (May 9, 2013) -- Dave Newcomb, a member of the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association and breeder of the California-bred that sold for the highest price at auction, passed away April 28, two days shy of his 84th birthday.

Newcomb was a CTBA member since 1981 and was the breeder of Unbridled Slew, whom he sold for $190,000 at the 2005 Keeneland September Yearling Sale and who then sold to Darley for a record price for a California-bred ever of $2.5 million at the following year’s Barretts May Sale of Two-Year-Olds in Training.

Newcomb owned Walking G Ranch in Taylorsville, where the self-proclaimed “lifetime cowboy” also conducted boys and girls camps.

He was born in 1929 in Newport, Rhode Island. He comes from a long line of entrepreneurs. His maternal great- grandfather had a gravel company and a fleet of work horses. He was well known in Newport as the road maker. His maternal grandfather built and ran a restaurant and distillery which provided him with capital to invest in horses. His father owned and operated a fishery.

Entrepreneur refers to someone who attempts to profit through risk and initiative. This defines Dave from birth to death. He started selling eggs as a young boy and by the time he was 10 he had a thriving horse boarding business on their family estate. He remembered vividly being asked, as an eight year old, by a librarian what he wanted to do when he grew up to which he answered, “I am going to have a horse ranch out West”. He recalled she laughed at him and he thought to himself, “I will do it!” Seventy-six years later Dave died on his horse ranch out west.

As a young child, Dave’s favorite pastime was to go to the stockyards and watch the horses from Indiana being unloaded by the train car loads. His sister tells of how Dave challenged the police officer who patrolled the Newport Beaches on horseback to a race. Although he was on a pony, Dave out ran the police. This began a lifelong career of raising race horses. Many in Newport remembered him as the boy who played Polo bareback on a horse so well trained there was no need for a bridle.

Dave joined the paratroopers at age sixteen. He explained he did this because he had business ideas and his mother would not let him have free rein. Shortly after returning from Japan, where he was stationed at the end of WW II, Dave left for Utah to attend college. After Utah, Dave went to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Prescott, Arizona where he worked galloping race horses. During this time Dave purchased his first stud horse, Shamrock, and a mare named, Gentle Annie. He traveled from job to job with his horses and became known as the Gypsy. When it came time to choose his brand and a name for the ranch, he chose the Walking G. 

His gypsy days ended when, after having traveled through the West, he came to Indian Valley in 1951. He said he had found his heaven on earth. The ranch they discovered was out on a dirt road. The valley had no telephone coverage at that time. Dave, Mary Ann and their three children lived in a log cabin. It was years before Dave could make a living off the ranch. He started working in the woods and was described by the other loggers as a hard worker who would take on any job and do it well. In the weeks leading up to his death he reminisced about the camaraderie among the loggers, telling of how once, when injured on the job, the entire crew came to see him in the hospital. He appeared to be genetically predisposed to building roads; he was described by fellow workers as the best grader operator in the woods. In the winter months when the woods shut down, he delivered milk to neighbors, sold Christmas trees and drove a gravel truck.