At the age of 10 years old, Michael Economopoulos walked race horses at a New York track, and dreamed that someday he would have his own race horses. The dream started to become reality in 1979, when he purchased 120 acres at Witts Springs, Ark., and began raising Arabian race horses.
“I grew up in New York, but in the mid 1970s I lived in California,” he said. “While traveling I’d passed through Arkansas and fell in love with the beautiful state, and its friendly people. I said to myself I needed to come back, so I returned and bought my horse farm.”
Getting established took eight years. His first stallion was Brusally Orzelost, who sired KA Czubuthan. Michael bred Czubuthan, then five years later bought him back. Under the 1988 Trainer of the Year, Robert Knight, KA Czubuthan proved to be a durable runner. Out of 64 races the stallion took 25 wins, 16 seconds, three thirds, including finishing first or second in 15 stake races. In 1994, with two Darley nominations (Arabian racing’s highest honor) and seven years on the track, Czubuthan was retired to stud at Magic Springs Farm. Located four miles from Witts Springs, at any given time Michael and Vicki, his wife, have 12 to 30 Arabian horses. Vicki helps foal out the mares, takes care of the young horses and handles many of the farm chores. They schedule their breeding program where the mares foal in early spring.
When asked why he decided on Arabian horses, he said, “Arabian racing was a new industry, easy to get into without a huge investment. I could be a big fish in a little pond.”
Intelligent, spirited, noted for their stamina, Arabian horses have a distinctive head shape and high tail carriage. One of the oldest horse breeds; archaeological evidence of horses that resemble modern Arabians dates back 4,500 years. Today, Arabian bloodlines are found in almost every modern breed of riding horse. They’ve improved other breeds by adding speed, refinement, endurance and good bone.
Michael works diligently to eliminate fescue and maintains very high quality pastures, Orchard Grass, Clover and Bermuda for his horses. He continually upgrades his pastures, using herbicide applications for weed control.
Ranching, he’s found, is ever-changing, from stock trucks to gooseneck trailers, from riding horseback to four-wheelers for tending livestock. Other changes involve science.
“Years ago people brought the mares to the farm to breed them,” he said. “In today’s market, most of that is by AI, and a breeder can get the best bloodlines from all over the world with frozen semen. I’ve sent KA Czubuthan’s semen as far away as Poland. The most interesting thing I had happen was getting a visit from the Prince of Qatar who bought eight horses from us, mainly as racing prospects.”
Michael has a separate cattle operation in partnership with Andrew Meshbane, called Snowball Properties where they run 50 head of momma cows with calves at their side, or they’re in their 3rd trimester; primarily Angus bred to purebred Angus bulls. The 600 acres that makes up Snowball Properties borders the National Buffalo River.
"I have a hired hand, Lyndon Hendrix, who helps me run the farm, both horses and the cattle," Michael noted.
“We've raced all over the country, California to Florida to Delaware. Nothing beats the thrill of watching a horse we’ve raised from a baby, go out on the track and make the winners circle.”