June 24, 2011
On The Money Red was a horse with a huge amount of heart who left a legacy that will never be forgotten.
By Honi Roberts in The American Quarter Horse Journal
“ ‘Red’ was in a league all his own,” says Marilyn Clark of Sky Ranch in Ocala, Florida. “He was special.”
Bred by C.E. Johnson of Jacksonville, Florida, On The Money Red was a 1978 stallion by Bennie’s Big Red and out of Dolly Priest by Little Dick Priest. Red blazed around tracks in the Sunshine State, winning both the 1981 Florida Quarter Horse Association Derby and Beau Brummell Stakes. With a top speed index of 103, he was named Florida’s running horse of the year.
In 1981, Marilyn’s brother, Larry Clark, and a partner, the late John Scott, purchased On The Money Red and moved him to Sky Ranch; Marilyn purchased the stallion a few years later. In his 14 years at Sky Ranch, On The Money Red sired fleet-footed race winners, as well as premier barrel horses.
According to EquiStat, he was the nation’s leading sire of money-earning barrel horses in 1991, ’93, ’95-’97 and 2002.
“I loved to show him off to visitors – Red stopped them in their tracks!” Marilyn remembers. “He’d come running to the fence about SI-100, slide to a stop, back up and buck. He loved an audience. Everything about him was perfect, from his gorgeous copper-red coat to his clean legs – even after all the running. And the speed – it came from his heart.”
A lifelong horsewoman, Marilyn carefully assembled Red’s broodmare band and approved outside mares to be bred to him.
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“I handled the breeding with just one other person, and they held the mare,” Marilyn recalls. “Red and I had our own special choreography. He was so smart – he understood every word I said.”
Marilyn’s favorite broodmare, an eye-catching palomino named Pin A Rose On Me (Mr Jet Magic-Honey Star Hatch by Honey Karnes) produced 11 foals by On The Money Red, seven of whom earned $35,028 on the track. One gelding, Speed Money, was a standout from birth.
“I named ’em like I saw ’em,” Marilyn says with a chuckle. “He was a little stinker and so pretty.”
Sold to former National Finals Rodeo qualifier Sharon (Smith) Davis, Speed Money placed third in the 1996 AQHA World Show in open senior barrels and earned his performance Register of Merit. His lifetime race record was 10-3-1-0, with a top speed index of 86. Speed Money won more than $700,000 in barrel racing futurities and rodeos before he was injured in his third NFR and later euthanized.
“Red’s babies had lots of personality,” Marilyn says. “And his fillies were something – so full of themselves.”
One year, Marilyn had all colts by Red, so she went to a client and bought a filly by the stallion. Marilyn put her in with the boys, and she bossed them around mercilessly.
“Red could be boisterous,” Marilyn says. “When a truck with a trailer pulled in, he’d be so loud, he’d scare you if you didn’t know him. Or if I moved a mare without ‘his permission,’ he’d let me know he was displeased. But Red was always kind. We had quiet moments, when he’d put his head on my shoulder.
“Clients loved him and his babies,” she adds. “Once, UPS delivered a bale of alfalfa from one of ‘his girls,’ with the message, ‘See you in the spring!’ I made lifelong friends through Red.”
At a point in the late 1990s, Marilyn was ready to slow down a bit.
“Red and I talked,” she reflects, “and I told him, ‘You can have your own girls here, or I can send you out West, where you’ll have many more mares.’ ”
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When the stallion was 17, Danny Ray of Victory Farms in Ada, Oklahoma, purchased both the stallion, and his son, Designer Red, out of Marilyn’s mare, Pin A Rose On Me.
“I was getting into the barrel horse business and looking for the very best,” Danny says. “Red was all that and more. He was unique and independent and taught me more about horses than any person ever did.”
For the next five years, On The Money Red sired talented athletes and solidified his stature as an all-time leading sire of barrel racing horses. Horse owners like Ken and Pat Smith of Sunrise West Quarter Horses in Washington drove hundreds of miles to breed their mares to him.
“We loved his intelligence, heart and kind nature,” Ken says, “and his colts had it, along with his explosive power and cat-like quickness.”
In late 2000, On The Money Red was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer and was euthanized January 25, 2001. He left an enormous legacy behind.
After racing, Designer Red earned a performance Register of Merit and became the 2002 AQHA world champion in senior barrel racing and a noted sire in his own right. In 2008, Danny sold Designer Red to a top breeder in Brazil.
The same year that Designer Red earned his AQHA world championship, another On The Money Red colt also bred by Marilyn Clark, SR Red Ryder, won the Barrel Futurities of America open championship.
“It was a fitting tribute to a great horse,” Marilyn says softly. “For years, my children, Heather and Keith, took care of Red’s babies, and he was my reason to get up in the morning. If I was late, he’d rattle the fence, then wait for me with his eyes dancing. … It was a privilege to have known him.”
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