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Three Bars

Chestnut Stallion
15.3 Hands
1940 ~ 1968

AQHA Hall of Fame ~ 1989
Article from AQHA Hall Of Fame

Three Bars Quarter Horse Legend

Race Record
28 Starts
12 Wins
3 Seconds
1 Third
Total $20,840

Sire of:
499 foals - 431 Performing Foals
14 World Champions
5 Superior Halter
Superior Performance (36 - Race)
29 AQHA Champions
Race Money-earners - $3,216,685
37 ROM Performance
308 Race ROM
Halter Point Earners - 1544 total pts
Performance Point Earners - 585 total pts
AQHA and NSBA Hall of Fame Offspring

     "In March of 1989, the American Quarter Horse Association inducted the first four horses into its new Hall of Fame.   One of those four was a Thoroughbred - Three Bars, whose genetic influence has been so pervasive that there can be no question that he helped shaped the horse we admire today.   In retrospect, it is a stroke of great fortune that Three Bars was able to stand 23 seasons at stud.   In that time, he sired more than 500 registered foals, and his name has appeared on all leading sire and maternal grandsire listings covering everything from racing to arena performance.   As a broodmare sire, Three Bars is outranked only be the immortal Leo.   In the sire of sire category, he is without peer.  

From 1940 to 1988, 287 Quarter Horses achieved the status of running champion.   Fifty-Five of those are by Three Bars or by his sons and grandsons.   In 1967, AQHA introduced the Supreme Champion Award for horses that excelled in racing, open performance, and halter.   Through 1984, 44 horses earned that award, and 20 of those descend from Three Bars, with 4 of them his own get.   Twenty-three stallions, as of 1989, are designated all-time leading sires of AQHA Champions.   Three Bars, with 29 champions is outranked only by one of his own sons Sugar Bars(30), plus Poco Bueno(36), Poco Pine(37), and Two Eyed Jack(119).   Eight other stallions on the all-time leaders' list descend from Three Bars.   Three Bars did not have an auspicious start.  

Foaled in 1940, the son of Myrtle Dee and a stallion named Percentage, Three Bars showed speed, but had recurring lameness in a hind leg.   He was sold, then given away to a trainer named Vernon Cloud.   Cloud got the colt on the track in 1944, and the horse won three out of four starts.   He didn't race the next year, but in 1946 started 17 times, winning 8 and placing second in 3.   At the age of 7, he placed once, and was then retired to stud.   Total racing earnings: $20,840.   Along the way, he had changed hands again in a claiming race, and his owners took him home to Arizona.   Enter Sid Vail.   For a man without a racing background (he spent some time rodeoing and worked as a guide in Yellowstone), Vail certainly knew a good horse.

He assembled $10,000 to buy Three Bars, whose stud fee at first was $100, with no overload of customers.   By 1955, the fee had bloomed to $5,000 and later went to $10,000.   The story has a dark chapter, however.   In the 1950s, the stud was rustled, and during the episode, Three Bars was clubbed, which broke his nose.   The horse was found, however, wandering around in a junkyard.   Three Bars was at Vail's Dart Ranch at Douglas, Arizona, from 1947 to 1951.   In 1952, the horse went to Oklahoma on a lease to Walter Merrick, and he was bred live cover to about 70 mares that year.   Merrick had hoped to buy the horse, and failing that, continued to send mares to him even after Vail moved to Apple Valley, California.   Finally, in 1967, Sid Vail sent Three Bars back to Walter Merrick, and the legendary sire stood half of the 1968 season in Oklahoma.   He died of a massive heart attack April 6, 1968."

From Western Horseman, March 1990

      Three Bars, the most influential Thoroughbred in American Quarter Horse history, was foaled April 8, 1940 near Lexington.   Despite severe circulatory problems in a hind leg, Three Bars won races as a three-, four-, and five-year-old.   As a six-year-old in 1946, he set a :57 3/5 track record over five furlongs at the Phoenix Fairgrounds in Arizona.

     The chestnut stallion possessed not only speed, but excellent conformation and disposition, which he conveyed to 558 American Quarter Horse offspring.   A legendary sire of almost transcendental genetics, Three Bars sired champions in all facets of the American Quarter Horse breed, with four AQHA Supreme Champions, 29 AQHA Champions, 14 Racing Champions, and 64 Racing Stakes Winners.

     His impact still weighing heavily on the breed, Three Bars figures prominently in the pedigree of virtually every champion from racing to cutting to showing.   Three Bars died in 1968, at the age of 28.

From American Quarter Horse Association
Percentage TB
1923 Chestnut
Midway TB
1914 Chestnut
Ballot TB
Voter TB
1894 Chestnut
Thirty-Third TB
Sir Dixon TB
Gossip Avenue TB
1918 Chestnut
Bulse TB
Disguise TB
1897 Bay
Rosewood TB
1914 Chestnut
Magneto TB
Rose Tree II TB
Myrtle Dee TB
1923 Black
Luke McLuke TB
Ultimus TB
Commando TB
1898 Bay
Running Stream TB
1898 Chestnut
Midge TB
Trenton TB
1881 Brown
Civil Maid TB
1915 Bay
Patriot TB
Ben Brush TB
Sandfly TB
Civil Rule TB Carlsbad TB
Semper Victoire TB

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