Wall Street Cowboys

One of the big worries when Rupert Murdoch bought the Wall Street Journal was that he would debase or eliminate the cherished institution known as the "A-Hed"--the surprising and colorful feature story that traditionally appeared on the front ("A") page, middle column, below the fold, and that most Journal readers had come to love. Thankfully, that hasn't happened. As evidence, I submit yesterday's A-Hed, by Kevin Helliker, on retired Wall Street executives who become cowboys. Laugh if you will--I did, imagining hapless, "City Slickers" in full-on crises of middle age. But Helliker delivers the goods in a terrific story:

KANSAS CITY, Mo.--When he was a titan of Wall Street, Thomas H. Bailey didn't even know how to mount a horse.

Yet since retiring as chief executive of Janus Capital Group Inc. in 2002, Mr. Bailey has become a rising star in the cowboy sport of cutting.

"Tom's good," said Matt Gaines, a champion cutter with winnings of $5.7 million, as he watched Mr. Bailey perform.During a competition here last month, Mr. Bailey and his teammate--a gelding named Kits Lil Pepto--separated, or "cut," a steer from a small group of cattle, then dashed from side to side to prevent the animal from rejoining its herd. Throughout the wild ride, Mr. Bailey stayed balanced in the saddle, showing why he has earned nearly $90,000 in the sport.

Mr. Bailey, 73 years old, represents a new force in the corral: the urban cowboy who can't be laughed off.