This little mare made a big impact on the horse industry.
By Richard Chamberlain in The American Quarter Horse Journal
Dark clouds are supposed to have silver linings. Consider, for example, Chicado V. Blessed with tremendous talent, Chicado V (chick ah doo vee) ran on her own dark cloud: legs fast enough to propel her to records, but calf-kneed and crooked enough that she could not keep it up. When the filly pulled up lame on a California racetrack, never to race again, the silver lining was her extraordinary ability as a broodmare. Chicado V had what it took.
Bred and owned by Frank Vessels Sr., who founded Los Alamitos Race Course on his ranch southeast of Los Angeles, Chicado V was foaled in 1950, a daughter of Chicaro Bill out of the St Louis mare Do Good and a full sister to successful sire Senor Bill.
“She was gentle, real gentle – in everything,” recalled Earl Holmes, who at the time was grooming horses for Vessels’ trainer Farrell Jones and later managed the showplace Vessels Stallion Farm at Bonsall, California.
Find out how Three Bars turned a rocky start into a legendary career as a sire. Get AQHA’s Three Bars (TB) Bloodline report and learn all about this famous horse and the legendary bloodline.
“Chicado V was born broke. I tell you, you wouldn’t know she was in the barn. She was real kind. When we took her up to run at Bay Meadows – where the saddling paddock is inside – she walked in, looked around and put her head underneath my arm, like a little scared rabbit.
“And she looked like a rabbit in the starting gate. When she was in the gate, it was like she was standing on her toes – she had big ears, and that’s all you could see, she was so little. I doubt that she was 15 hands, but oh, she was heavy. She was a stout mare.”
Farrell did not much care for the filly, according to Earl, so Vessels sent her to Eddie Moreno, who took her to the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds at Pomona (now Fairplex Park) for her first race – and her first track record. Breaking from the gate like an old pro, Chicado V flashed 350 yards in :18.1 seconds, then the fastest time ever clocked by a 2-year-old at the distance. Only one other horse – world champion Woven Web (the Thoroughbred also known as “Miss Princess”) – had bettered the time, and only four others had equaled it. The Quarter Running Horse Chart Book called it “a most remarkable first start.”
Farrell decided maybe he liked Chicado V. He and Earl took her to Bay Meadows.
“I’m rubbing her again, and we run her in a handicap in October,” said Earl, who died in 1995. “At that time, Johnny Mawson had just given $22,000 for Bardella (a Three Bars (TB) filly coming off a daylight win in the Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Racing Association Futurity). They thought Mawson was crazy for paying that much money for a Quarter Horse. Anyway, Merlin Volzke (who later became a steward at Los Alamitos) rode Chicado V. She equaled the track record and outrun Bardella bad.”
Chicado V and Bardella were co-champion freshmen fillies in 1952. But that kind of speed was hard on Chicado V, who sat out nearly a year before returning to the races. Coming back in a 350-yard handicap at Pomona, she pushed the highly regarded 4-year-old Robin Reed to a :17.9 clocking that broke her own track record, but in finishing second by a nose daylighted champion Clabbertown G, herself marking an :18 flat record for 3-year-olds.
That sophomore record lasted only a couple of weeks. Facing both Robin Reed and Clabbertown Gin the last race of the meet, Chicado V opened daylight between herself and everything else, while equaling Robin Reed’s :17.9 track record.
But her legs were taking a beating. Returned to Bay Meadows, Chicado V finished third behind Bardella while world champion Monita set a track record. Five weeks later, she ran her last race, a Bay Meadows handicap in which she toted 127 pounds and conceded at least 10 pounds to everyone else in the field. She finished sixth, the only race she ever ran in which a record wasn’t set.
Her racing career over, a brilliant flash in too brief a time, Chicado V was yet to shine her brightest. No mare ever made a better mama than Chicado V. Her first foal, Triple Chick in 1955, foundered as a yearling and never raced, but sired 28 stakes winners. Triple Chick was followed by champions War Chic and Table Tennis, and those two by Three Chicks, a stakes winner who with points in western pleasure and halter became an AQHA Champion before siring the track-record setting All American Futurity winner Three Oh’s. Then came Chicado Chick, another winner on the track and AQHA Champion in the show ring. Chicado V produced three foals of lesser renown, but her final contribution to the breed was in 1963 with the stakes-winning The Ole Man, who from 28 crops sired 15 stakes winners on the track and 10 AQHA Champions off of it, and before his death in 1995 was the last siring son of Three Bars (TB).
For the first few years of his life, his flaws seemed to far outweigh his apparently few redeeming qualities. Though he would become a stakes-winning racehorse and the most sought-after sire of his time, one early owner was so little pleased that he actually gave the colt away. Get AQHA’s Three Bars (TB) Bloodline report to find out the rest of the story about this legendary horse.
When Chicado V died of an apparent heart attack in February 1972, she was – to pick one statistic – the only mare who had produced five AAAT offspring.
“The best one I was involved with was Three Chicks,” said Earl, who received Chicado V and Table Tennis in the will when Frank Vessels Sr. died in 1963. “Three Chicks resembled his mother more than Triple Chick did, in the height and in the build. He was a real kind horse to train, too. But they were all so nice, gentle and easy to get along with.”
They still are. The blood still flows today, for example, in 2005 world champion DM Shicago, whose sire, Separatist, traces to the mare, and in Corona Cartel, 2005’s leading sire by earnings, whose sire, Chicks Beduino, also traces to her.
Chicado V had what it takes – a silver lining for the breed.