Horse Breeding

The Story of Leo the AQHA Stallion

October 21, 2011

Bud Warren bought himself quite the horse.

Leo the AQHA stallion

Leo was the stallion king of Bud Warren's breeding establishment. Artwork by Orren Mixer.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

Editor’s Note: The American Quarter Horse Journal has been bringing its readers important industry news since September 1948. This article first appeared in the magazine’s pages in 1953.

Leo, the stallion king of Bud Warren’s breeding establishment at Perry, Oklahoma, topped the sire of winners list for 1952. The following year, Leo was listed as the all-time leader of AA and AAA horses combined.

Twenty-four of Leo’s sons and daughter won 44 races during 1952, beating the score of his illustrious daddy, Joe Reed II, who was second with 23 winning get, and Piggin String, third with 21.

He was quite a horse, this Leo. A sorrel standing 14.3 hands, weighing 1,200 pounds and made the way a Quarter Horse should be, with good bone, a short back and a heavy gaskin and stifle. A son of Joe Reed II, and out of Little Fanny, he had running blood that went back to Traveler, Old Billy, Joe Blair, Della Moore, Fannie Richardson, Sister Fannie and Whistle Jacket. It was a rich inheritance with high-caliber performers on both sides. His first, second, third and forth dams were all track horses with notable records, as were their sires. In this respect, Leo was an impressive result of the theory Ott Adams had been preaching for years: “Breed speed to speed.”

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Little wonder, then, that Leo proved to be one of the fastest short horses ever fetched into Oklahoma. While owned by John W. Tillman, he won 20 match races out of 22 starts at Pawhuska, defeating such top performers as Red Sails, Johnny Barnes, Cyclone and Good Eye. Most of his running was done before the establishment of organized Quarter Horse racing, but his Pawhuska track record of 300 yards in 16 seconds flat stood for several years.

Abundantly endowed with terrific speed and magnificent conformation, Leo inherited a third ingredient that was highly regarded: good disposition. A superb gate horse, he could be handled by anyone, and after his competitive years, he was ridden around the late Gene Moore’s ranch – the Rocking M at Fairfax, Oklahoma – by Gene’s daughter. Speaking of Leo at that time, Gene said, “He’s one of the best cow horses I have ever thrown a saddle on.”

Leo was purchased in 1947 by Bud Warren, who already owned two of his get – Leota W and Flit.

“Besides being handsome 2-year-olds, they outran everything else on the place, so I decided to buy the stud that sired them,” Bud said. “I wanted a real good Quarter Horse stallion.”

He got one.

Leo, who was heavy-muscled and low-jointed, marked his colts well. Most of them were sorrels or bays, compact and tight-twisted – definitely Quarter type. “It’s a rare exception for one to look like a Thoroughbred,” Bud said.

A majority was fillies, and they were daughters a father could take pride in: fast steppers such as Mona Leta, Leota W, Leola and Miss Meyers. In 1951, Miss Leta set 2-year-old records of 17 seconds for 300 yards, and 12.2 seconds for 220 yards, neither of which were broken in 1953. She shared the 3-year-old record of a quarter mile in 22.2 seconds, along with Blob Jr., Bright Eyes and Tonto Bars Gill. Leo’s most notable son up to 1953 was Robin Reed, who held the 3-year-old colt record of 18.2 seconds for 350 yards.

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In three successive colt crops, Leo sired 22 Register of Merit performers. He had 28 all told. From 1948 to 1953, Leo colts won five Oklahoma futurities, two Rocky Mountain Quarter Horse Association futurities and two derbies – also a futurity and a derby in Kansas. In 1952, his colts won the get-of-sire trophy for the third time at an AQHA show in Oklahoma.

It appears that Bud Warren accomplished what he started out to do in 1947.

He bought himself a horse!