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
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
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
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 . 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