Denis & Julie Schoenhofer
Things were somewhat up in the air when Denis and Julie Schoenhofer first met, primarily because both were professional pilots. Julie’s flying revolved around the natural gas business, eventually forming her own company that services the oil industry. Now, however, she hires the pilots instead of doing it herself; devoting her time to her family and their horses.
To say Denis is involved in a variety of business pursuits is one of those gross understatements. There’s racing. There’s oil. There’s aviation. And, of course, there is Southwest KFC, which includes more than 35 Kentucky Fried Chicken locations in Kansas, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and Oklahoma.
Denis frequented racetracks with his father as a youngster. Julie, on the other hand, had never attended a race although she’d ridden for many years. They combined the two interests and met somewhere in the middle.
The couple was at Ruidoso, when a TB sale was announced over the PA system. A sale? That would be fun. They bought five head and a friend furnished the name of trainer Mike Joiner. It didn’t take long for Joiner to sell off the TBs and redirect the Schoenhofers to Quarter Horses.
They saw the three-year-old Mr Perry Dash in Joiner’s barn and asked about buying him. Joiner didn’t feel the gelding was exactly brimming with talent but Denis and Julie were not deterred. They bought him and then supplemented him to the 2007 West Texas Derby. The late Sam Thompson rode the gelding into the winner’s circle after the race, eventually winning nearly $300,000. The Schoenhofers decided this racing stuff would be the easiest thing they’d ever done. By the time they found out it wasn’t, they were hooked.
Separatist Too came along for them, and then, First Klas Fred. They purchased the gelding for $20,000 and turned him over to Joiner. So far, he’s rewarded them with a win in the 2009 Ruidoso Futurity and the Hobbs New Mexico Futurity, with total earnings of $538,394. He’s still racing.
Denis and Julie now live in Oklahoma, have five in training and just purchased a farm in Inola, where they intend to become more hands-on, especially with the babies. Drew, their eight-year-old daughter, just “purchased” a Paint at Heritage Place for $350.
Anyone who doesn’t know trainer Dee Keener should correct the situation immediately. Keener’s parents told him he could go to school, get an education and then do anything he wanted in life. He followed their advice, graduating with a degree in elementary education and even going so far as to get his student teaching requirement under his belt. With that handled, he began training Thoroughbreds!
Well….that’s teaching, isn’t it?
Keener was a champion rodeo team roper and his folks trained horses. Did they honestly believe their son would veer off that beaten path? Keener began working for Win Ingersoll on the 11,000-acre Oklahoma ranch known as McFarlin-Ingersoll. The spread was established in 1915 by oil man R.M. Mcfarlin, who was Win’s great-grandfather.
Keener, who was breaking horses, met wife Wendy Ingersoll. Even a successful trainer such as Keener, who loves what he does, can be worn thin by the toughness of the racing business. He considered quitting a few years ago but….then….came along a good horse. You know the rest of the story.