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THE WORKING LINES
by Larry Thornton
Reprinted from the Southern Horseman, March 2004


Breeders will often seek out and buy mares sired by a certain stallion because that stallion is noted for his outstanding daughters.  The broodmare sire holds a special place in the Quarter Horse industry. No one is likely to dispute the fact that the lasting influence of the great sire Leo has been as a broodmare sire. Leo has been described by many authorities as "the ultimate" and "the greatest" broodmare sire in the Quarter Horse industry. Leo's legacy as a broodmare sire developed over a period of years when Leo, King and Three Bars were establishing their status as foundation sires in the modern Quarter Horse.

He reportedly won 20 of 22 starts while running at Pawhuska, Oklahoma. He was A rated as a runner from one official start in 1944. Leo was raced in Old Mexico but his record below the border is unknown. Leo became a leading sire of stakes winners with 29, of race ROM with 211, of show ROM with 33, AQHA Champions with 24 and, of course, he is the leading maternal grandsire of AQHA Champions with 57. His daughters have produced 753 racing ROM and 44 stakes winners. J.W. House of Cameron, Texas, was the breeder of Leo. House bought the great sire Joe Reed and used him to breed the likes of Joe Reed II and Little Fanny. He then mated Joe Reed II with Little Fanny to get Leo. Leo was a 1940 foal.

House later sold all four of these horses, spreading their influence around the southwest. Joe Reed went to Dr. J.J. Slankard of Elk City, Oklahoma. Bert Wood took Joe Reed II and Little Fanny to Arizona. Lester J. Manning bought Leo and took him to Eagle Pass, Texas, to begin his race career.  Leo made his first start at Eagle Pass at 18 months of age.  Bill Morgan, an Oklahoma trainer, saw Leo run and negotiated for John Tillman to purchase him from Manning. Tillman took Leo to Pawhuska, Oklahoma, to race during 1942-43, where Leo became known as the "Pawhuska Powerhouse." Leo ran 22 races during this time. He reportedly met and defeated such good runners as Cyclone, Red Sails, Good Eye and Johnny Barnes.

Leo lost only two races while running at Pawhuska. He was matched with two different mares on consecutive weekends. Bill Rowe and Max Michaelis were the men that teamed to beat Leo and break the bank at Pawhuska with two Louisiana race mares. Punkin was the first mare to defeat Leo. She was by Flying Bob and out of a mare by Old D.J. Punkin stumbled at the start but managed a half length victory.  Lady (later registered as Randle's Lady) defeated Leo the next weekend. She was sired by Doc Horn, an army remount thoroughbred, and her dam was an Old D.J. mare.  (Some pedigrees show her dam to be by a son of Old D.J.)  Leo and Lady reportedly ran head and head for 200 yards with Lady pulling away to win by more than half a length.  Rowe and Michaelis had pulled off the impossible - they had beaten Leo in two straight weekends.  Bud Warren eventually purchased Randle's Lady and she became one of his great producers. She was the dam of Leo's great son Croton Oil and the great Leo mares South Pacific and Rosa Leo. Rosa Leo was the dam of Warren's great runner Jet Charger.

Enrique Salinas was the next owner of Leo. Salinas took Leo back to Eagle Pass and then into Mexico. Leo's race record in Mexico is not known to have been published. His racing career came to an end when he was injured in a trailer accident that nearly cut off his front legs. Salinas sold Leo to Bill Rowe. According to the Quarter Horse Journal story "A Basis For Performance," by Richard Chamberlain, Helen Michaelis was responsible for Leo's recovery from the trailer accident. Helen was the wife of Max Michaelis and the owner of Punkin.  Bob Gray in his biography of Leo, 'The Story Of Leo," Horseman magazine, November 1967, indicated that Rowe leased Leo to August W. Lohman of Foraker, Oklahoma, as a breeding stallion.  Rowe later carried Leo to his new ranch in New Mexico.

Rowe found that his new ranch was not suited to standing a stallion and he sent Leo back to Oklahoma where he sold him to Gene Moore.  Bud Warren of Perry, Oklahoma, bought Leo in 1947 from Moore for $2,500. Warren was criticized for buying Leo, an unproven sire with bad knees and a stifle injury. The stifle injury occurred when an unruly mare kicked Leo while he was owned by Moore.

Warren's description of Leo may give us some insight into why he ignored the criticism and bought Leo. Warren was a self described true "short horseman" that was looking for power for that quick burst of speed. This is what he had to say about his great stallion. "Leo was something else, he was the most muscular horse I've ever seen to this day. He looked like a wrestler. He looked like he could whip any stud that you could turn in the lot with him."

Warren continued, "He was so muscular that he looked like a weight lifter in a man. Just so powerful all over. He was not thorougbredy. He was kind of high headed and real high in the wither, but he was a musk ox. He would knock your eye out to look at him. He looked like a bear."  "He certainly didn't look like a thoroughbred at all. But he had binding speed and power and that combined with some of the other refinements of the thoroughbred and made great short runnin' horses and, of course, in those days we didn't run very far - 300 yards was a pretty good distanced Leo was a proven short distance runner that was built for power and a look at his pedigree tells where his speed came from Leo's double grandsire, Joe Reed, was sired by the speedy thoroughbred Joe Blair, The dam of Joe Reed was the great Louisiana race mare Delia Moore.

Joe Blair, the race horse, will be remembered as the horse that ran second to Pan Zarita when she set a world record for 5/8 of a mile. Joe Blair reportedly set his own record for 3.5 furlongs in :39.  Delia Moore was sired by Old DJ„ the famous Louisiana broodmare sire, she was out of Belle by a horse named Shamrock.

Delia Moore reportedly ran the quarter in :22 and is the mother of two important sires in Joe Reed and Joe Moore.   Joe Moore was sired by Ott Adam's great sire Little Joe, the grandsire of King P-234, Joe Reed was reportedly bred by Henry Lindsay, who raced Delia Moore.

Lindsay actually handled Delia Moore for a Mrs. Moore of Houston, Texas.  Legend has it that Delia Moore was stabled next to Joe Blair at the track.  Joe Blair and Delia Moore were given the opportunity to mate when they disturbed a poker game with their noise.  Delia Moore was in heat and the poker players put them together to keep the commotion down.

A second version comes from Lloyd Gary as it was told to him by Gabriel Strauss, the jockey of Delia Moore. According to Strauss, Delia Moore was on the verge of being returned to Louisiana and he took the opportunity to have the aging Delia Moore bred to Joe Blair.  But fate stepped in and Delia Moore was sold to Mrs. Moore. The new owner was unaware that Delia Moore was carrying the legendary Joe Reed P-3.  Lindsay kept the foal from the unplanned mating because he was Delia Moore's son. Joe Reed went on to be a good race horse and more importantly, a great sire.  Joe Reed II and Little Fanny show outcross speed in their female families. Joe Reed II is out of Nellene, a Quarter mare by Fleeting Time (TB). Fleeting Time was by High Time by Ultimus.  High Time was a linebred Domino stallion. Domino is a major source of speed in the pedigree of today's sprinting thoroughbred and Quarter Running Horses.

Nellene was out of the Quarter mare Little Red Nell that carried the blood of Quarter Horse foundation sires Old Billy and Traveler. Little Fanny was out of Fanny Ashwell by the thoroughbred stallion Ashwell. Fanny Ashwell was out of Fanny Richardson who was out of Sister Fanny. According to Nelson Nye "all four of these mares had track performance records and were highly considered." He reported that Sister Fanny had 65 starts with an amazing 62 wins.

Joe Reed II was raced in Arizona at the same time as his son Leo was running in Oklahoma. He started three times with three wins in 1942-43. He impressed his opponents so much that they made him the Champion Quarter Running Stallion for the year. His title came when he defeated the likes of former World Champion Clabber while running on three good feet. He had injured himself doing ranch work and the bad foot never healed properly.

Ralph Dye's story, "Leo Was A Mighty Horse," (Quarter Racing World, November 1973) tells us that Little Fanny had two starts as a 2 year old and then she was bred to Joe Reed II. Little Fanny produced seven foals by Joe Reed II and they include the ROM runners Leo, A; Firebrand Reed, AA and Little Sister W, AAA.  Warren stated with assurance in a 1984 interview that Leo was a "combination of genes that clicked." He added that they would breed Leo to any mare "because the mare owner knew what he wanted, Leo crossed with mares from the Little Joe sire line, the Joe Hancock sire line, Oklahoma Star sire line, King sire line and the Three Bars sire line.

Warren's first foals by Leo were Leota W and Flit. Leota W and Flit became successful race horses and hold the distinction of placing first and second in the first organized Quarter Horse futurity, Leota W out ran Flit in the premier running of the Oklahoma Futurity. Leota W and Flit have each played a major role in the success of their sire.

Leota W raced 16 times for Warren, winning 14 of them. Warren readily admitted that Leota W could "easily have been the best" he'd raced and he was sure she was the "best looking." He reinforced that by saying that she raced with the best and had held her own against older horses.

Leota W was a good representative of Leo's ability to "nick" with most any type of mare. Warren was advised by fellow horsemen not to buy Swamp Angel. According to Warren, he paid $30 for the "little ole bay mare" and she foaled "a beautiful filly," Leota W was the "big bay" Swamp Angel foaled. She developed into a good mare with the "biggest hindleg" he'd even seen.  Leo and Swamp Angel produced four ROM foals Including the AAA/AQHA Champion Leoitta. Leolita was owned by Ed Honnen of Denver, Colorado.  The Leo/Swamp Angel foals have an Interesting pedigree. They are linebred to Delia Moore through Joe Reed and one of her other sons Grano De Oro. Leota W's dam. Swamp Angel, is sired by Grano De Oro, a son of Little Joe.  This makes Grano De Oro a full brother to Joe Moore, the stallion Ott Adams bred to replace Little Joe. This makes Leota W 4 X 4 X 3 linebred to Delia Moore.

Leota W was a very successful runner that became a successful producer as the dam of several AAA and AA running horses. Her foals include the AAA Citation Bar, Stepping Star and Little Leota. 

Stepping Star by Top Deck was a stakes winner in The Bardella Stakes at Los Alamitos. Bob Cuatro, a son of Leota W and sired by Cuatro De Julio, earned 55 performance points In the arena. An Interesting side note on this family comes through Leollta. Quincy Brand was sired by Firebrand Reed and out of Leolita. Firebrand Reed was a full brother to Leo, thus intensifying the blood of Delia Moore. Quincy Brand was an AQHA Champion with 63 points in halter, 19 in calf roping, 11 in reining, 3 in heeling and .5 in working cowhorse. Leolita was the dam of two other performers in Good, a AAA/AQHA Champion and the AA stakes placed runner Rellta. Both of these performers were sired by thoroughbreds.

Flit came in second in the Oklahoma Futurity, but Warren sold Leota W and kept Flit as a broodmare. Warren talked about Flit this way, "I had this Leo mare, Flit She was second in the first futurity written in the United States for Quarter Horses...I took Flit, she was a AA race mare and I raced her all over the country from El Paso out to Arizona.  She was a little bitty bulldog powerhouse and 1 took her down to Jess Hankins' King by Zantanon, if you remember him. I did that because I owned a nice little King horse, a halter horse that I ran a bit. So I took her down to Ole King, She had a stud colt that we hadn't even named yet and Jim Calhoun bought him,"

Warren bred Flit to King P-234 and got the 1957 NCHA World Champion Cutting Horse, King's Pistol. King's Pistol was the first stallion to win the NCHA World Championship.  In addition, King's Pistol earned his AQHA Championship with 65 cutting points, 30 halter points and 2 reining points.

Warren continued talking about King's Pistol "He was a powerhouse.  He could carry a 200 pound man and a cuttin' horse saddle and do things you wouldn't believe. That's why he had to be made that way." Warren went on to explain that a skinny horse or a weak horse couldn't do the things that King's Pistol could do and that King's Pistol would "send the crowd wild." Warren credited the success of King's Pistol for Leo's entry into the performance horse industry and not just the race horse industry.

Flit is also the dam of AAA Leo Bar by Three Bars, Sugar Leo AAA/AQHA Champion, Flit Bar, a successful sire and Bar Flit, earner of 82 halter points, all by Sugar Bars.

The dam of Flit was the mare known in some pedigrees as the Triangle Mare or Julie W as she was registered. Warren credits Julie W with starting the Leo/Joe Hancock nick. He fondly remembered her this way, "She (Flit) was out of an old Joe Hancock mare that came from the 6666 Ranch. Her name was Julie W. She started It. She wasn't much of a mare, a little ole parrot mouthed mare that couldn't do anything, but she was a Joe Hancock mare." He added, "She was rugged, stout and not very pretty. Damn, she produced any number of good horses.  There was a lot of other Hancock mares bred because of Flit and several others that we raised from Julie W at that time."

Julie W was the dam of Juleo by Leo. Juleo was the dam of the great horse Otoe and his full brother Justice Bars, by Sugar Bars. Lena Horn was out of Julie W and sired by Dock. She was the dam of Lena Leo, the great producing mare by Leo that was the dam of the likes of Dan's Sugar Bar, Sugar Maker and Sugar Bull, all AQHA Champions by Sugar Bars. Another cross that worked well with Leo was the Oklahoma Star mares.

A prime example of this cross was actually a granddaughter of Oklahoma Star named Osage Star Lady. Osage Star Lady was sired by Osage Star by Oklahoma Star.  The first foal of note from this cross must be Leo Star Lady. Leo Star Lady was the winner of the 1953 Oklahoma Futurity, the sixth Leo foal to win this great race from 1947 to 1955. Leo Star Lady was an ROM race producer with foals like Whiskey Bert.  Whiskey Bert was sired by Joe Reed II and out of Leo Star Lady by Leo by Joe Reed II.  This makes Whiskey Bert 1 X 3 inbred to Joe Reed II.

Whiskey Bert was being used as a foundation sire for Fletcher Farms of Lonoke, Arkansas, supplying the blood of Joe Reed II. The farm's owner, Bill Fletcher, is linebreeding to the foundation bloodlines of Joe Reed II and King and Whiskey Bert was an integral part of this breeding program.

The next foal of note from this cross was Palleo Pete, the 1954 AQHA World Champion Quarter Running Stallion.  Palleo Pete was a successful sire with such foals as Golden Note, Co-champion 2 Year Old Filly of 1961 and her full brother Palleo's Note, a AAA/AQHA Champion.

Holey Sox was a good son of Leo and out of Osage Star Lady that made a name for himself in the arena as a 1963 NCHA Top 10 finalist Holey Sox was the sire of the great cutting horse Mr Holey Sox, a two time NCHA Reserve World Champion Cutting Horse.  The Leo/Oklahoma Star nick is an interesting one because of their ties to the great sire Bonnie Joe. Bonnie Joe was the sire of Joe Blair, the sire of Joe Reed P-3. Several pedigrees exist for Cutthroat, the darn of Oklahoma Star The pedigree that Ronald Mason believed to be correct was that the sire of Cutthroat was Bonnie Joe. This makes the Leo/OkIahoma Star cross linebreeding to Bonnie Joe, Ronald Mason was the last owner of Oklahoma Star.

The King daughters 89'er, Sorrel Sue and Betty Warren were top producers for Warren. These great mares reinforce the success of Leo with the King bloodline.

89'er is a leading dam of Register Of Merit with 11 of her foals running ROM.  She is the dam of Whimper, AAA; Leo Bob, AAA; 89'er's Boy, AA: Miss Sabre, AA; Mr. 89'er, AA; Mora Leo, AA and Sooner Leo, A, all by Leo. Mora Leo is the sire of the great cutting mare Moira Girl, the dam of Shorty Lena and Moira Lena.  Sorrel Sue was the dam of such noted Leo foals as Okie Leo, AQHA Champion and great sire of reining horses; MacLee, a AAA stakes winner and Leonelia, a AA race mare. Lemac was a son of Leo and Sorrel Sue that sired a stallion named Leolark.  Leolark is the broodmare sire of the only two time AQHA Super Horse Rugged Lark.

Leola was the third Leo foal to win the Oklahoma Futurity during the years 1947 to 1955. She was a AAA/AQHA Champion out of Betty Warren by King. Her full sisters included Soonerette AAA and Idaho Betty Lee, dam of Quincy Lee, an AQHA Champion.

One of the all time great combinations was the Three Bars and Leo cross. Warren had seen Three Bars and he had a very high opinion of this great thoroughbred stallion. He found Three Barsto be an excellent "Quarter type thoroughbred." He even sent Flit to the court of Three Bars to produce the great stallion Leo Bar, a AAA rated runner.

Warren summed up the success of Three Barsand Leo this way. "Three Bars and Leo were great because Leo had the power and Three Bars had the short distance speed for the thoroughbred and the two of them made good looking horses for show or racing."

One of the early successes of the Three Bars/Leo cross was Bar Bob, a AAA/AQHA Champion that was sired by Three Bars and out of Delia Bob by Leo.  Bar Bob earned some of his per-formance points in cutting. He was a noted sire with Irish Bar Bob and Bobbibar Bob leading the way. 

In today's pleasure horse side of the industry, we find a significant contribution coming from the late Zippo Pat Bars, a son of Three Bars and the Leo mare Leo Pat. Zippo Pat Bars Is considered a foundation sire in the pleasure horse field with his great sons Zippo Pine Bar and The Investor leading the way. Zippo Pine Bar has been the perennial leading sire of performance horses in the AQHA and the leading money earning sire of pleasure horses.

The 1989 top money earning pleasure horse Principle Investment has an interesting tie to Leo.  Principle Investment is sired by The Big Investment by The Investor, who is a son of Zippo Pat Bars. The dam of Principle Investment is Tiger Serena by Tiger Leo. This makes Principle investment 5 X 3 linebred to Leo. Principle Investment, investments Style, Classic Zippo and Zip N Win were all money earning pleasure horses out of daughters of Tiger Leo. They made this late great son of Leo the leading maternal grandsire of money earners in the pleasure horse field. Classic Zippo and Zip N Win were sired by Zippo Pine Bar. This makes them 4 X 3 linebred to Leo.

The legacy of Leo as a broodmare sire is a fitting tribute to this great stallion, It is a legacy that is reinforced by such noteworthy titles as the leading maternal grandsire of AQHA Champions and further reinforced by his racing Register Of Merit producing daughters.  Leo has five daughters that have each produced more than 11 ROM, They are Barbara 2 with 13 ROM, Rosa Leo with 12 ROM (from 12 foals), Rosita Leo with 12 ROM, Miss Olene with 11 ROM and Loro Leo with 11 ROM.  But Leo the broodmare sire, must be considered more than just a sire of mares. He was a powerful performer with an outstanding record. He was a powerful sire that nicked with a variety of bloodlines and types of mares.  He was truly a powerful influence on the Quarter Horse that must be remembered for his overall contribution.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Larry Thomton is  the author of the books "The Working Lines' Volumes 1 and 2, These books bring together many of the informative stories of the prominent stallions and mares, and both are valuable for use as reference books.

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