Horse Breeding

Peter McCue: Influential Quarter Horse

June 26, 2009

A century ago, there was no stallion better than Peter McCue.

You can purchase this photo - and many others - at the AQHA Photo Store

You can purchase this photo - and many others - at the AQHA Photo Store

By Richard Chamberlain of The American Quarter Horse Racing Journal

Foaled February 23, 1895, Peter McCue at maturity was a bay stallion standing 16 hands and weighing 1,430 pounds. He was a prepotent stallion who was bred and raised in Illinois, raced in the Midwest and stood in Illinois, Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado. From the time he started his first race in April 1897 until his last in October 1899, there were few horses that could run with him. From the time he entered stud, there were even fewer that could stay with him.

Almost all Quarter Horses today carry his blood (diluted, of course, by many generations). Today, there are 5.3 million Quarter Horses. Of those, 5.1 million trace to Peter McCue.

Peter McCue’s influence on the Quarter Horse is undeniable. To learn more about him, download the FREE Gospel According to Peter report.

The colt started his first race on April 27, 1897, winning by four lengths going 3½ furlongs in :42 flat. Two days later, Peter McCue won another race by four lengths, but this time it was a half-mile race. Before the year was out, Peter McCue would start 16 official races, all at distances of 3½ to 5½ furlongs, for eight wins, one second and two thirds.

Less successful at 3, Peter McCue started 12 official non-heat races, being first once, second twice and third three times. He also competed in a heat race that year, his last out being a  three-round affair at the Illinois State Fair, each over 4 furlongs.

Despite official recognition, however, it was on the bush tracks that the horse’s speed burned most brightly. Peter McCue was taken wherever there was money to be won, like St. Louis, where with Milo Burlingame in the irons, three watches caught Peter McCue sprinting a quarter in :21 flat.

Such speed over such a schedule took its toll. As a 4-year-old, Peter McCue recorded one second and one third from 10 official outs before breaking down at Hawthorne Racecourse near Chicago on October 7, 1899.

Peter McCue made his mark on the Quarter Horse breed. You can learn even more about him by reading the FREE Gospel According to Peter report.

The people who saw him run never seemed to forget the spectacle, telling all who asked that Peter McCue was the fastest horse they ever saw, the only horse who could get left at the post and still win against any competition at the quarter mile, that he could win half-mile contests because he’d be so far ahead after the first quarter that he could coast the second, that he was the greatest Quarter Horse to ever look through a bridle.

As good a racehorse as he was, Peter McCue showed his real class and made an even bigger impact in the stud barn. Peter McCue died in 1923.