Q-Racing Blog: Best of the Best
Q-Racing Blog: Best of the Best
By Ty Wyant
Every horse person discusses the best horses; me, you and the people you talk with about horses. The same discussions go on in every sport. So what’s a criteria that can add some objectivity to these subjective discussions?
Shue Fly (1941-1944)
Shue Fly was foaled in 1937 – three years before the start of AQHA – and had questionable breeding. Her AQHA pedigree shows that she was sired by Cowboy and out of Lady Luck. However, many believed she was actually sired by Erskine Dale (TB). Her late running style would add credence to a Thoroughbred influence.
In the 1942 World Championship Quarter Mile at Rillito, she had a horrid start and was, according to the legend, beaten by 7 lengths. After falling to her knees and her jockey sliding up her neck, she started to make up ground and got up to win by a nose.
That afternoon, the renowned Elmer Hepler bought Shue Fly for $3,000. A hefty price in 1942, but he got a great mare.
Woven Web (TB), aka Miss Princess (1946-1948)
Miss Princess was the world champion for three years. That shows her prowess throughout her racing career. Yet, her career is best defined by one race – the match race victory over Shue Fly in 1947.
The owners put up $15,000 a side and the race was on at the Val Verde Fairgrounds in Del Rio, Texas. The race was held over 440 yards and Miss Princess got the daylight win while equaling Shue Fly’s world record of :22.3. Miss Princess went on to surpass that world record with a :22.0 time at Del Rio. She was the only horse to defeat Shue Fly who Shue Fly never beat.
Owned by the King Ranch, Miss Princess started her career racing in Mexico City against Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses. There she equaled the world record of :27.2 for 550 yards.
Maddon’s Bright Eyes (1949, co-champion in 1951)
Maddon’s Bright Eyes was the darling of New Mexico racing.
Foaled in Watrous, New Mexico, Bright Eyes scored her most amazing victory in the 1949 New Mexico Quarter Horse Championship in Albuquerque. It was one of the best fields of the year and included Miss Bank. At the start, reports indicate that Maddon’s Bright Eyes was slammed nearly sideways and well behind the stellar field. She then went on to win by three quarters of a length in :22.2 for the 440 yards, lowering the track record previously held by Miss Bank and Shue Fly. She also equaled Miss Princess’ world record.
The daughter of Gold Mount set eight track records and equaled three track records. She was also the first horse to sprint a quarter mile under :22.
Go Man Go (1955-1957)
Go Man Go showed what he was in his first start. He was loaded into the gate and decided he wanted to be someplace else. He reared, unseated the rider and broke through the front of the gate. He ran all the way to the backstretch before the outrider got him under control. He was taken back to the starting gate and loaded. He raced down the straightaway that he had just seen minutes earlier to an easy win.
The son of Top Deck (TB) and a $300 mare, hewas called by jockey Eldridge Strauss, “mean as a bear most of the time.” But by the time he was in stud duty he had settled down and was good mannered, even willing to cooperate.
The roan was not pretty. He was just an incredible racehorse and then a leading sire. He won 18 stakes races and defeated 17 champions. He set world records at 440 yards (:21.8) and 350 yards (:17.8).
The roan warrior retired sound and is buried in the infield at Ruidoso Downs. His grave is available to visitors.
Kaweah Bar (1968 and 1970)
Kaweah Bar was a handful, to be polite, and lost multiple $100,000 races because he would start bucking during the race, especially if the rider used the stick.
Perhaps, Kaweah Bar’s antics came from his maternal grandsire Go Man Go.
Jockey Bobby Adair was not only a tremendous jockey, he was an excellent horseman and is a member of the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame. He could deal with Kaweah Bar. Controlling and winning on Kaweah Bar showed that he deserved to be a hall of famer. Kaweah Bar and “the old master” Adair were a perfect match.
Kaweah Bar liked to drink beer straight from the bottle, won 21 stakes races from his 38 total wins and earned $386,516 despite those six-figure races he lost from misbehavior. He would have been a millionaire in 2022 dollars. That’s a lot of beer.
Nicknamed “The Palomino Express” for publicity purposes, Kaweah Bar may be best known as a horse who brings a smile to people who knew him or knew about him. He was special and everyone who was around him has a story about him.
Trivia Question: Kaweah Bar was the 1968 and 1970 world champion. Who was the 1969 world champion?
Dash For Cash (1976-1977)
Dash For Cash was as perfect as is possible for a horse. Try to fault him.
The son of Rocket Wrangler and the King Ranch mare Find A Buyer (TB) had breathtaking conformation, he was kind and willing, his race record was spectacular and he changed the course of the breed when retired from racing.
The Champion of Champions helped define Dash For Cash and Dash For Cash helped define the Champion of Champions. In the race’s fifth running in 1976, the 3-year-old Dash For Cash easily won in :21.17 while demolishing Jet Deck’s :21.49 track record set in 1963. He was bred to a few select mares at the Phillips Ranch the next spring and returned to racing with a second Champion of Champions as his goal. He easily won to become the first two-time Champion of Champions winner.
Dash For Cash started 25 times with 21 wins and three seconds and earnings of $507,688.
In the stud, Dash For Cash modified the breed. He sired money earners of nearly $40 million and 145 stakes winners to still hold top-five positions on each all-time list. He sired world champions Dashingly, Dashs Dream, Cash Rate, First Down Dash and Dash For Speed.
After more than half a century studying Quarter Horse pedigrees, I developed a theory about Dash For Cash. He changed the racing American Quarter Horse, and his son First Down Dash accelerated that change.
Trivia Answer: Easy Jet
Refrigerator won the most elite races and was the all-time leading money earner ($2,115,525) when he retired. He won 22 of 36 starts and took nine Grade 1 races.
The gelding started his money-earning binge when he won the $2 million All American Futurity (G1) in 1990 and earned his first $1 million. He was on his way.
He added to that win in the sport’s most prestigious 2-year-old stakes by becoming the first horse to win the Champion of Champions (G1) – the top race for older horses -- three times (1992-1994). It was his win in the 1993 Champion of Champions that vaulted him into the top spot of the breed’s all-time leading money earners. He was the first Quarter Horse to earn more than $2 million.
Refrigerator was all racehorse. He competed against the best from his 2-year-old season in 1990 until his retirement in 1995. In every start, he had to be respected as a horse to beat and he prevailed in the premier races.
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