Winner Earns a Reprieve; Owner Can Go to College

Whitney Holcomb, 16, of Lindale, Tex., and her European crossbreed steer Cool, the 2006 Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo Grand Champion Steer worth $160,000.
Whitney Holcomb, 16, of Lindale, Tex., and her European crossbreed steer Cool, the 2006 Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo Grand Champion Steer worth $160,000. (By Tom Pennington -- Fort Worth Star-telegram Via Associated Press)

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

For the first time in years, the title of grand champion steer at the Fort Worth Stock Show no longer carries with it a death sentence.

That must be a relief for Cool, the black European crossbreed that won top prize -- and a bullish $160,000 price tag -- at this year's competition. The money for the 1,316-pound champion went to Whitney Holcomb, 16, who raised Cool. She plans to use it to pay for college.

A philanthropic buyer and advances in livestock drug testing saved Cool from that big pasture in the sky. For the last decade, grand champion steers had to be slaughtered to be tested for drugs and other banned substances, said Laura Squires, a spokeswoman for the Fort Worth Stock Show Syndicate.

That is no longer the case, so Cool's buyer, XTO Energy Inc., arranged to donate the steer to the Fort Worth Zoo.

"They decided it really was a shame that this animal would have its one moment of glory and then be shipped off to die," Squires said.

Last week, Cool and Raider, a 1,296-pound shorthorn steer that won reserve champion, took up residence in their new digs at the zoo's Texas Wild! exhibit. They will be on display for a year. Then it's off to greener pastures and a ranch when next year's champions take their place.

-- Matthew C. Wright


© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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