Pedigree Pursuits - the Perfect TRee HOuse for Pedigree Biffs and Nuts! Articles about the history and equine legends of the breed.

Legends Series ...  LEO:   the ALL TIME HORSE

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Simply put,  this is the place to remember when you need pedigree and performance information.  Outstanding "stand-alone" resources,  linked to pedigree charts in the "Stallion Finder" online stallion directory for Quarter Horses, Paints, Appaloosas and Thoroughbreds.

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  Pedigree   ||  Progeny Record ||  Broodmare Sire Record


Photo: Courtesy of Ivar T. Mattson, Tulsa, OK

In the quiet little town of Perry, Oklahoma, in a park named for him ... stands a statue of an extraordinary horse. This little fellow came into the world having his fair share of Cajun know-how and a whole bunch of early speed. He grew up to be none other than the great LEO.

Dedicated to all the people who love man’s true "Best Friend" ... the HORSE.  by M. K. Fredlund

He is the result of a half brother crossed on his half sister. (Be sure and check his pedigree … we are talking 'Inbreeding' here.) J. W. House, a well-respected Texas horseman, was responsible for this particular mating. Wise fellow, that House, for Leo was destined to leave a lasting mark on the Quarter Horse family. Mr. House said of Leo, "When he was born, he resembled a mature horse, or what a mature Quarter Horse stallion should look like, and kept those looks all his life." 2

Time and again people watched him, or had occasion to see some of his best sons and daughters fly along the southwest short tracks, so prevalent in those days. For a few years Leo held the 300 yard record at Pawhuska, Oklahoma. He also turned in a time of 12 seconds flat for 220 yards. That’s a lot of get-away for a 14.3 hand horse. Quoting John Tillman, Leo’s owner at one time, "He has always had a wonderful disposition, is easily handled, a prefect gate horse … and he had the ability to come from behind and outrun horses with big names." 3

Leo wasn’t destined to have it easy, as injures plagued him through out his life. A bum knee and leg challenged his prowess on the track. Careless inattention caused some further problems, and he a lost year of breeding while recovering from a stifle injury. Despite all these obstacles, and a rather late start in the breeding shed. Leo, under the ownership and good care of Bud Warren, in just four years become the All Time Leading Sire of "AA" and "AAA" horses (combined), according to statistics from the AQHA Racing Division. Additionally, 24 of his sons and daughters won 44 races during 1952, beating the score of his sire, Joe Reed II, who ranked second with 23 winning get. Leo also ranked first as a Sire of Two-Year-Old ROM Qualifiers in 1952.

When Warren paid $2500. for Leo in 1947, he was a crippled 7-year-old, going to his seventh owner. But the purchase was well planned. Warren already had two of his get … Leota W and Flit. He explained, "Besides being handsome two-year-olds, they outran everything else on the place, so I decided to buy the stud that sired them." 4

In Quarter Horse Racing, Leo is represented by some of his most famous offspring, such as Running Champions Miss Meyers, Mona Leta, Bobbie Leo and Palleo Pete. Today, you will find Leo firmly lodged in 11th place on the list of Leading Maternal Grandsires of Race ROM Qualifiers (with 754 ROMs), and he still ranks 26th as the All-Time Leading Maternal Grandsire of Money Earners, with 290 daughters having produced 1378 starters earning a total of $6,146,643. through 1998. His daughters’ leading earner was Little Blue Sheep SI-105, Stakes Winner of $389,854. She is the 1977 and 1978 World Champion Aged Quarter Running Mare, just one of his many Champion maternal grand get.

Is it any wonder that Leo has recently been listed by Marianna Haun as one of the important Quarter Horse sires identified as having an X-chromosome with the X-Factor? The large heart gene is becoming the hot topic of conversation in racing circles, the theory being strongly substantiated by genetic research, heart measurements and correlation with racing performance and paths of inheritance. The gene is transmitted by a large-hearted sire to every daughter.

Of the 46 AQHA Supreme Champions, his son Leo Maudie was the 13th, and his full sister, Maudie Leo, produced Supreme Champion Goodbye Sam. Leo daughters produced 7 Supreme Champions, including the first one, Kid Meyers. A Leo son sired Mach I, and three more Supremes were sired by stallions whose dams were Leo daughters. And finally, two more Supreme Champions had second dams who were daughters of Leo. All told, 13 of the 46 Supreme Champions have Leo within the first 2 generations, making him the second most influential ancestor for this elite group, behind Three Bars. 7

There isn’t a discipline in the Quarter Horse world that doesn’t have ties to Leo’s bloodlines somehow or somewhere. Flit, his daughter out of a Joe Hancock mare, founded her own dynasty in Barrel Racing. The Cutting and Reining industry have their ties to Leo through Holey Sox, Leo Question, Rondo Leo, Leo San, Peppy San and his full brother Mr San Peppy, Jewels Leo Bars (AKA "Freckles"), Mr Gun Smoke, War Leo, King's Pistol, Mora Leo, and Colonel Freckles. Leo sired many sons who also had the ability to pass on his desirable qualities. In 1989 the American Quarter Horse Association honored Leo's greatness by inducting him into the AQHA Hall of Fame.

What a great legacy Leo left for future generations of American Quarter Horses! He represents what inbreeding can do … strong fixed traits that are passed on to successive generations. His daughters and sons provided a wellspring of prepotent genetics that were dipped into for his best characteristics. Good hocks, well-proportioned legs, great lopes, speed, athleticism and cow sense. Leo is said to have sired ‘carry down’ or ‘tie down.’ How many times have you heard that phrase? . These are just some of the known qualities of Leo breeding. Many a rider was carried to the winners circle or picked up the trophies and ribbons on the backs of Leo offspring.

Zippo Pine Bars traces to Leo; and his son, Zips Chocolate Chip, has two crosses. Leo’s son, Tiger Leo produced daughters who are the ‘darlings’ of today's Pleasure Horse breeders. Blazing Hot, one of the younger winning stallions in the breed today has several crosses to Leo, one through Thirsty, a Leo son out of Dipsydoodle Milligan, a King daughter. People would still like to own a Sir Quincy Dan daughter or two, or a few War Leo offspring. Wasn’t the magic cross Leo on King mares?

Bay Reba, a Leo daughter, when bred to King Commander, a son of King, became the dam of Commander King. He in turn sired Commander’s Doll, dam of Mito Commander. Impressive Bar Leo’s dam Dipsy Lee is the result of Leo crossed on a King daughter. Dipsy Lee is a full sister to Thirsty. How about having a mare named "Bucket Baby" in your pedigree? Well, Impressive does, and she is a Leo daughter. Do you remember Tardy Too? He was a Leo grandson. Sonny Dee Bar has a Leo-bred grandam. Lemac was a son of Leo out of Sorrel Sue by King. When bred to Tallulah (who also descends from King), he sired Leolark, an AQHA Champion who sired numerous World Champions and Top-Ten World Champions in Halter, Western Riding, Hunter Under Saddle, Trail, Reining, Working Cowhorse, including Alisa Lark, Cheyenne Sky, Bridget O Lark, etc. Leo’s influence seems to be everywhere.

Sun Princess, a daughter of Leo, was out of a King daughter named Sunday Fleet, who just happens to be a full sister to the legendary stallions Beaver Creek, Sunup H, and King Sunday! . Maybe Sun Princess wasn’t the world’s best runner. She only earned $347. and a AA rating, but in the breeding barn … that was another story. Sun Princess had 10 foals. To mention a few, she produced Zan Sun, an AQHA Champion and Superior Cutting Horse, by Zantanon H; Fleet Bar Sunday SI-88, Superior Race Horse with over $30,000. earnings who was sired by Hankins' Bars. When bred again to Hankins' Bars she produced a superb gelding named Flapjack Jess. Now if his name doesn’t catch your fancy, lets talk about his winning ways. Not only did he set a track record, but he managed to become an open AQHA Champion and Superior Hunter Under Saddle, a Youth AQHA Champion, Performance Champion, Superior Western Pleasure, Superior Horsemanship and Showmanship horse, and claimed 2 Youth World Show titles: 6th place in Hunter Under Saddle in 1974 and 4th in Western Horsemanship in 1975. He earned 3 Performance ROMs in the Youth Division, earning a total of 38 halter and 351 performance points, on top of his 25 open halter and 119 performance points. Flapjack Jess illustrates the brilliance of those Leo - King crosses. What if he hadn’t been gelded?

This author realizes that there have been outstanding get of Leo that have not mentioned … for that I am sorry. There were just too many!

How could a horse that is, at least, 50% Thoroughbred become so influential in the Quarter Horse breed? His genetics are so deeply ingrained, it couldn’t have been an accident that his ancestry worked so well with Quarter Horse lines. His blood added to the Quarter Horse without taking away any of the essence people find so exceptional. Leo provided talent and a kind of grit so necessary in many events of today. Whether we like it or not, Thoroughbred blood has always been heavily entrenched in the Quarter Horse breed. Leo is just one example of how well it has worked!

Quoting from Bob Gray’s "Great Horses of the Past, Vol I," he states "Yet, interestingly enough, it is probably true that Leo never did get in his life as many race mares as, say, Three Bars might have had in his book in just one season. It happened repeatedly that mares of ordinary pedigree would produce, by Leo, both running horses and those that developed later into fine broodmares. Quarter Horse Association records testify to his place in the breed."

Blood does tell … subsequently after half a century, Leo is still ranked the number one All Time Leading Broodmare Sire of AQHA Champions, not to mention the ancestry he left for the American Paint Horse and Appaloosa Horse breeds. Of all sires, Leo is perhaps the most predominant ever put to use in the Western horse industry.

Article (c) Copyright: M. K. Fredlund. All rights reserved.

Below,  photo of the historical marker placed by the AQHA beside the statue of Leo in Perry, Oklahoma. 

Photo: Courtesy of Ivar T. Mattson, Tulsa, OK


1 ... "Inbreeding" by Larry Thornton, from his forthcoming book, "Bloodlines N Pedigrees." (back)

2, 3 ... Richard Chamberlain’s wonderful article on Leo, "A Basis for Performance" ... May 1990 Quarter Horse Journal. (back)

4 ... "He Bought Himself A Horse" by Leslie Ernenwein ... April 1953 Quarter Horse Journal. (back)

5 ... "Heart of the Matter" by Marianna Haun ... Two-part article, June/July 1998 Quarter Racing Journal. (back)

6 ... "The X-Factor: What It Is and How to Find It" by Marianna Haun. (back)

7 ... "The Real American Quarter Horse: Versatile Athletes Who Proved Supreme" (out of print) by Paul Mattson (back)  See our Supreme Champion Series

  Pedigree   ||  Progeny Record ||  Broodmare Sire Record

Article (c) Copyright: M. K. Fredlund. All rights reserved.
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