Mr Eye Opener
Mr Eye Opener
“He may have been born on April Fool’s Day, but don’t let his size fool you,” breeder Joe Kirk Fulton told Hall of Famer Ben Hudson. “He’ll do something.”
Mr Eye Opener was foaled in 1990 on Fulton’s ranch in Ledbetter, Texas, the gray colt by Dash For Cash was from the program that produced Peppy San Badger, to Dashs Dream, and Special Leader. Mr Eye Opener was one of five stakes horses out of Bedawee. The colt was purchased as a yearling by 40-year breeders Dale J. and Billie C. Smith, who lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the time.
“Mr Eye Opener was a great horse,” says Jack Brooks, Hall of Fame trainer who conditioned the colt. “I bought him for Mr. Smith for $30,000 at the All American Yearling Sale…. Mr Eye Opener made the dangdest-looking horse you’ve ever seen. Other than being a little bit small and a little bit thick necked, he had those little short cannon bones, short back and long underline – he had all the things you look for.”
As a 2-year-old, Mr Eye Opener clocked a track record: 16.45 at 330 yards in the West Texas Futurity at Sunland Park in New Mexico. He later won the Speedhorse Gold and Silver Cup Futurity at Trinity Meadows in Texas. The following year, Mr Eye Opener ran in the final of the Speedhorse Gold and Silver Cup Derby. He left the track with earnings of $202,978 and a record of nine wins, two seconds, and a third from 15 starts.
The Smiths put Mr Eye Opener to stud at Dee and Betty Raper’s Belle Mere Farm in Norman, Oklahoma where he became a top-10 leading sire.
Mr Eye Opener sired 1,497 starters from 2,024 foals, including 95 stakes winners and the earners of more than $28.2 million.
When AQHA closed the books on 2018, Mr Eye Opener ranked No. 10 on the all-time leading sires of money earners list at $28.1 million. The only son of Dash For Cash that ranked higher was First Down Dash.
“The horse was such a blessing to our family,” says Chris Bayer, whose father, Jim Smith, acquired Mr Eye Opener in 2003 upon the death of his father, Dale Smith. “Mr Eye Opener brought us all together. We’d all go to Ruidoso or wherever he was to watch him run. That was three generations: my grandfather, my father, my family and my sister’s family…It was so much fun.”
Mr Eye Opener died November 18, 2018 and was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2020.
Biography updated as of August 2021.