Easy Jet

Easy Jet as a 2-year-old. Forty-two years ago this month, the most precocious Quarter Horse ever wrapped up a freshman season unlike any other in history.

Sometimes a little racing saves a lot of work.

Easy Jet AQHA Stallion
Easy Jet was king of the roost. AQHA file photo.

From The Q-Racing Journal

Twenty-two wins and three seconds out of 26 starts.

Nine stakes victories at eight tracks in five states.

Record earning.

World champion laurels.

That would be quite a record for a stallion retiring from years of successful competition before heading to further glories at stud. Except he wasn’t.

That was Easy Jet as a 2-year-old. Forty-two years ago this month, the most precocious Quarter Horse ever wrapped up a freshman season unlike any other in history.

“He was so fast, it was almost scary,” said the horseman who bred, trained and raced the legendary stallion, the equally legendary Walter Merrick. Walter – beginning in the 1930s with Midnight Jr – in his own name bred 40 stakes winners and the earners of more than $6.5 million. Easy Jet – beginning with Our Jet in the 1973 R.M. Benavides Memorial Futurity at Laredo, Texas –sired the earners of more than $26 million.

By world champion Jet Deck, Easy Jet was out of Lena’s Bar (TB), a daughter of Three Bars who won 24 of 76 races against Quarter Horses. Foaled January 12, 1967, on a ranch that Merrick leased just east of Quanah, Texas, Easy Jet was a full brother to that year’s Kansas Futurity winner, Jet Smooth, a colt who earned points at halter to be an AQHA Champion.

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“I thought Easy Jet was outstanding,” Walter said. “He wasn’t as pretty a colt as Jet Smooth was, but he was a big, rugged individual, straight and correct everywhere. The bone structure was very good. He looked like a good prospect the way he was built. He was a runner from the word go. And he improved every day of his (racing) life.”

Easy Jet also made quite an impression on Walter’s foals.

“He was the king of the roost,” Walter said. “Easy Jet was the type of colt that was always doing something. You’d never see him standing still. I had him running in a paddock with five or six other colts, and he had so much energy – he was always jumping around, worrying those other colts. They’d be wanting to graze or eat, and he’d never be still, just pickin’ at them, pesterin’ them and going all the time.”

Then the colt made an impression on Walter’s cowboys.

“After we broke him, he was the same way. He never was a mean colt at all, but he was on his toes all the time, looking for something to do. He never did have any buck in him, but he was just a hyper kind of horse. He’d jump around and do things, just playing. He’d dump his riders while just exercising – not really buck them off, but he could move so quick, so fast, it was hard to stay with him. It took a good hand to ride him.”

Walter thought Easy Jet was special. Pretty soon, everyone else did, too.

Shortly after turning 2, Easy Jet outworked his big brother at home. But even before that (in December 1978), the colt won a yearling race at Sallisaw, Oklahoma. From his first official race, the January 5 trials to the Blue Ribbon Futurity, until his last as a freshman on November 30 at Sunland Park, Easy Jet carved up his competition in ways never matched before or since.

Earning a record $409,157, Easy Jet loped his way through the Blue Ribbon, Columbus Triple Crown, Lubbock, Kansas (where he set a track record), All American, Laddie, Rocky Mountain QHA, All American Congress and Sunland Fall Futurities. The colt’s only unplaced finish was in the Rainbow Futurity, when he false broke before being bumped badly in the race – he finished sixth to Miss Three Wars, but was moved up to fifth. Easy Jet won his 22 races by a combined 35-plus lengths.

And though ridden by Willie Lovell, Elbert Minchey and Ray Spencer, Easy Jet did it all pretty much on his own.

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“We never worked him on the gate,” Walter said. “We run him too regular. I haven’t seen even ever heard of a 2-year-old running as much as Easy Jet did, but I was with him every minute and watched him real close. And my son Joe slept on a cot in front of his stall at night.

“Easy Jet was a real sound horse, and he wanted to run – every week. If he’d ever showed any signs of being tired or sore or anything, well, I’d have backed off on him. But he was so hyper, had so much heart, so much desire to run, was so eager to go all the time, I thought that I’d just as well run him.

“Besides, if I didn’t run him, I was going to have to work him.”

22 thoughts on “Easy Jet”

  1. Easy Jet was a great horse ! We have had several of his offspring and grand offspring and we love them . We had Jet Smooth daughter that produced some super race/barrel horse’s .

  2. Raced? As a yearling? Holy Mother of God, his bones were still forming at that age! No small wonder that the horses are expendable by the age of 3…wrecked and ruined. Have you people no shame? No humility towards these beautiful creatures? I am horrified.

  3. Many have criticized my Grandfather for running Easy Jet so young. However, those people never knew the love Grandad had for that horse. He would have NEVER done anything to jeopardize his body. He was never NOT SOUND during his racing carrier. He was never wrecked or ruined. There is NO SHAME in how Easy Jet was treated. Did you not just read the story. My uncle Joe slept infront of the horses stall. That horse was shown more love than most people. He was a true member of our family. When EJ was put out to stud he slept in a barn less than a 100 yard from my grandfathers bed. He would check on him 2-3 times a night just to rub him down and talk to him. Trust me, there is NO SHAME!!!

    The only thing horrifying is your ignorance and disregard for the facts. Learn them before making uneducated comments about a racing legend. Walter Merrick forgot more about racing than most people will ever know.

  4. Growing up on a ranch horses were very essential to our life. My Grandfather raised and trained a many of his(EJ) offspring along with TB. I have to say I have always been partial to EJ offspring. Easy Jet definitely passed down his traits to them. We’ve had several that would bring tears to your eyes at a gallop and the temperament is awesome and so willing to learn, always a smooth ride too. Easy Jet was a great asset to the AQH name and always will be.

  5. I remember watching him win the All American Congress Futurity in Ohio, October of his two year old year.
    Usually only TB’s ran there and when I went to the “window”
    – I guess my hat gave me away-and the teller asked if I would give him a “tip” on the QH Futurity and I told him to put it all on Easy Jet’s nose, that He could fall down and still get up and beat us! He didn’t fall down and blew us away.

    I saw him again just before he was put down, he was an awesome horse, the Secretariat of quarter horses. It was too bad that Jaguar Rocket had to be born the same year. He was a great two year old as well, but Easy Jet stole his thunder!

  6. we have 2 yearlings from EJ bloodline. im looking forward to racing them . DONT PAY NO MIND TO THE NO SHAME COMENT!

  7. I think Ms. Westwood’s comments are based on a sad general truth about the horse industry, especially the Western sports and racing. While Easy Jet may have remained sound, it sounds like he was an all-around exceptional individual with exceptionally careful care and training by an extremely caring, knowledgeable individual. Unfortunately, not all horses receive that level of care, and many are not handled with the same expertise or regard for their well-being. There are far too many three year olds with damage in their joints from being worked too hard, too young. Horses wrecked and useless by the time they are five or seven. I’ve seen the x-rays, and it is tragic.

  8. There was only one Easy Jet and one Walter Merrick. Back in the day, a Walter Merrick match race would empty the bank vaults in western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle and no one was betting against Walter. It takes an exceptional man to be a great horseman, and Walter was both.

  9. Easy Jet was in my horse’s family. She is from Dash for cash and Madonna Mia. Her name is Cashs Young Gun, or Onyx is what she goes by. What upsets me the most, is here is this beautiful mare from a prestigeous family, and when I got her, she was beaten,starved, and abused, only weighing 450 lbs, with a blown out rib cage. Now, she is healty, happy and my therapy horse. I support horse racing, but not what happens to their offspring that don’t race.

  10. Love the stories of Easy Jet! We have an Easy Jet grand-daughter (“Easy Jets Dustin Off”) out of Westhoff, who has been the fastest horse on our farm since she was 3 weeks old (she and her mother could outrun all the horses in the pasture)! Her dam was hot hot hot but our Jet has been so easy to train and work with – we did not start her under saddle until she was 4 (on purpose). She has remarkable dedication and work ethic, yet probably because of the great training Elissa Borman put on her, she is able to remain calm until the speed is called for and then come down afterwards. She is a great asset to our farm and we appreciate the bloodlines!

  11. I absolutely love the Easy Jet horses. I owned an appaloosa son named Houston Jet. He was the easiest stallion to handle with a wonderful personality and great disposition. He was a pleasure to handle and own. All of his offspring are very athletic, smart as a whip and easy to handle. I have 3 sons of Houston that i wouldnt trade for anything. I also have a daughter of Easily Smashed that also goes back to Easy Jet. She to is smart,athletic and a pleasure to handle.Most athletes go back to a good solid foundation horse somewhere. Thank you Walter for such a wonderful stallion

  12. My daughter owns an Easy Jet grandson, Look Who’s Truckin out of Mr Trucka Jet. We bought him as a 5 year old and he is coming 22 year old in 2012. All through her teen years my daughter evented him through preliminary level and I was never worried because he always took care of her. In his late teens she has shown him in Dressage through 3rd level. I love him because if I want to trail ride, he is my man. Spooking is not in his nature, but loves to gallop with a methodical beat that is never out of control. He was raced as a 2 and 3 year old. I have also shown him in local stock horse shows in their trail and ranch horse classes. He is willing to try anything. What a wonderful lineage and reading about Easy Jet makes me think constantly about if we will every have another quarterhorse that means so much to our family and the fun we have had riding him.

  13. Not enough good words to say about this horse. I have a granddaughter as well as my stallion is a grandson of Easy Jet and Dash for Cash (Avid Dasher). In all the people I have met and talk horses, I have only met one that had a admitted to not like an easy jet horse, but I have yet to see an easy jet horse I don’t like.

  14. Wow! I have a gelding who is a great, great grandson of Easy Jet. I have to say he passed his traits down. Comet, Why Not Champagne, is the exact same way in the pasture with other horses. Always wants to herd them or just keep them moving! He too has an amazing body and no mean bone in him. Great to trail ride and also doing some dressage. Amazing story about an amazing horse!

  15. I have always liked the Easy Jet bred horses. I still do as our stallion is a grandson of Easy Jet. Our Paint Stallion is Beduinos Easy Jet out of Easy Jet too out of Easy Jet. We use these horses for Barrels and gaming but they work great as cutting and pleasure horses. I could not ask for better horses with this cross.

  16. I’m so happy to see the retort by Kimberly Staton. Clearly ann westwood has no idea what she is talking about in this instance and only shamed herself in her ignorant comments. Our Easy Jet horses have always been good all-around horses with sound minds & bodies and are a testament to the foundations of today’s Quarter Horse.

  17. My aunt and I were talking one day and she told me that my horse, Romeo, has Easy Jet in his veins. I had no idea who he was, but after reading about him now I’m pretty impressed. Romeo is never still, and he is always having to do something. He is a very, very hyper horse and has so much spirit. I don’t ride him and he’s a gelding, nor is he registered, but Easy Jet is on his papers. I’m not sure how much of Easy Jet’s blood is in him, but their chests are identical in musculature.

  18. The best horse I’ve ever owned was a double bred Easy Jet. He won over $100K running barrels and none of that was futurity money, so he won a LOT in little chunks. Qualified me for the IFR twice, won me Rookie of the Year the first time and won a go round the second time we were there. He set 5 arena records and won 4 of the largest divisional races in the US at that time. He paid off my house, truck and trailer and was a valued member of the family. He was by Easily Smashed out of a daughter of Streakin Six. I lost him to colic in 2007, and that was a very sad day at our house. Every horse I’ve bought since, I compare to him. I don’t think there will ever be another, though. I always look for Easy Jet blood when I buy prospects. They’re the soundest, best minded line I’ve found, and they can run a hole in the wind. I agree that he was the Secretariat of the Quarter Horse breed. Enjoyed reading his story.

  19. I own a Grandson of Easy Jet, a grey gelding named Direct point, He ran over 10t times and won 2 0r 3 races. I bought him out of Kansas as a 7 yr old. He became an awesome show jumper that competed on the A-Circuit. I still have him to this day. He will be 26 in May. He still jumps, goes on trail rides and looks great. He is the best, smartest horse I have ever owned. He has never really had any health or soundness issues. The QH today are built nothing like this now..They have ruined the breed. I stick to the Tb’s, but this QH is the best!

  20. CABRERA 3R RACING STABLES for those who know somthing about easy jet blood line we have been inbreeding to get the best and pure genes standing as stallion *MEADLY STAR* a florida acredited race horse check him at {all breed pedegreed.com} and contact us in facebook or 561-275-4242 thanks.

  21. To laurie on nov 16, I just bought a colt out of your stud a few days ago! Little dun paint.. he’s a doll love him already! Also the gal that I got him from said the stud had passed two days ago…

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