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Foundation Quarter Horses and Paint Foundation Horses

Foundation Quarter Horse History

Left: Foundation Quarter Horse
Peter McCue
AQHA Hall of Fame Stallion

Karen Griffith Farms · 34440 State Route 7 · Pomeroy, Ohio  45769
Call: (740) 992-5782 · E-mail: griffith@frognet.net



Peter McCue (1895 - 1923) - AQHA Hall of Fame Stallion

Dan Tucker sired many great horses, but without doubt the greatest was Peter McCue. Peter McCue's blood had greater influence on the development of the Quarter Horse between 1900 and 1940 than that of any other single individual. His sons were in demand and scattered among all of the principal Quarter Horse areas. For example, Hickory Bill in South Texas, Harmon Baker in Central Texas, and John Wilkins in North Texas. The same was true in other states like Colorado, New Mexico, and Oklahoma, where sons of his were found out-running, out-performing, and out-producing all rivals.

Peter McCue's breeding explains his phenomenal success and tremendous ability. He was by Dan Tucker. Dan Tucker was a Shiloh and Steel Dust cross. Peter stood 16 hands high and weighed 1,430 pounds. He and Joe Hancock, his grandson, and Old Fred are the largest Quarter Horses to influence the breed significantly.

The first fame came to Peter McCue on the race track. He was principally a sprinter, running most of his races in Texas, Oklahoma, and Illinois.5 While in Texas he spent much of his time in the vicinity of San Antonio. Those who knew him best claim that despite his size he was the fastest horse ever to run a short race. He ran what could be one of the fastest quarter miles ever run by a horse and recorded by more than one witness with a watch in hand. Three independent railbirds clocked him in twenty-one seconds flat. Since it was five o'clock in the morning and just a workout, it was not, of course, official. One other time he was supposed to have been clocked by several watches in the same time. Both of these could have been scored starts, although the modern records are getting closer to this time each season.

Peter McCue's speed was phenomenal, but he was a freak horse, as an examination of his pictures will show. Bob Wade ran a quarter in twenty-one and one-fourth seconds at Butte, Montana, and Rainbow by Senator, the horse of her day in Colorado, ran several races in around twenty-two seconds. Races run under twenty-two seconds are fairly common when some sort of a score or running start is used. Shue Fly ran an unofficial quarter at Albuquerque in twenty-one and two-tenths with a scored start. The present world's record is twenty-one and eight-tenths for a standing start quarter set in 1957. When the American Quarter Horse Association, known as the AQHA, first listed official track records in 1945, Shue Fly held the quarter-mile record with a time of twenty-two and six-tenths.6

Peter McCue, when in San Antonio, was owned by John Wilkins, who later sold him to Milo Burlingame, who took him to Oklahoma. Some years later he was purchased by Coke Roberds. Roberds then kept him and cared for him until Peter McCue died in 1923 at the age of twenty-eight.

Among the famous race horses sired by Peter McCue are Carrie Nation, who at one time held the world's record for the five-eighth of a mile, and Buck Thomas, who ran forty-nine races and won thirty-eight. Many of Peter McCue's sons were kept as sires.

He represents one of the most important modern strains, and his bloodline has been carried on through his many sons and daughters. Some of them were Harmon Baker, Sheik, John Wilkins, Buck Thomas, Harry D. Hickory Bill, Duck Hunter, Carrie Nation, Chief, Jack McCue, and Badger. Harmon Baker sired Sancho, Harmon Baker, Jr., Seal Skin, Dodger, Big Nigger, and Little Joe (New Mexico), John Wilkins sired Joe Hancock.

Hickory Bill sired Paul El, Little Hickory Bill, Sam Watkins, and the Old Sorrel. Carrie Nation was the dam of Billy Sunday. Sheik sired Nick. Buck Thomas sired Bill Thomas, Jack McCue sired Barney Owens, Miss Santa Fe, Nancy M, Warrior, and others. Badger sired Old Midnight. It has been the privilege of few modern Quarter Horse sires to exert the influence that Peter McCue did upon the modern "short-horse.

5 For a good account of Peter McCue see Wayne Dinsmore, "The Racing Record of Peter McCue,' The quarter Horse Journal, February, 1964, or "The Story of Peter McCue," Quarter Horse, September, 1948, by J.M. Huffington.

6 Melville H Haskell, The Quarter Running Horse [1945]. This is the yearbook and register of merit of the American Quarter Racing Association.

This story was taken from the book by Robert Moorman Denhardt - Quarter Horses: A Story of Two Centuries. (For more reading, check out another book by Denhardt - The King Ranch Quarter Horses.) 


Karen Griffith Farms · 34440 State Route 7 · Pomeroy, Ohio  45769
Call: (740) 992-5782 · E-mail: griffith@frognet.net
Web site: www.karengriffith.com

Copyright © 1973 - 2009 by Karen Griffith. All rights reserved.

Content by Karen Griffith