"The Roan Powerhouse"

Red Man

photo taken by Reggie Russell, from Nelson Nye's Complete Book of the Quarter horse
photo submitted by Lee Jones

The Roan Powerhouse

Time: 1942
Setting: Hacienda Moltacqua, Tucson
In the Gates: Red Man

Going way back to the beginning of quarter racing history on an organized scale, Melville Haskell, in the first yearbook published by the newly organized American Quarter Racing Association (AQRA) (1943), declared: "We think it safe to say that the top horses of the past years, about which we have accurate information, probably ran about as fast as horses ever did. Shue Fly has been World's Champion for two years, and her track record at Moltacqua - :22 3/5 from a flat-footed start - will probably stand for some time. Started behind the line and timed from a flag, she was credited with :21 4/5 at Albuquerque in 1942. At least three thoroughbreds had made that time under the same conditions - Atoel, Air Flame and Galley Slave; official time for the first quarter of their world's record 3/8s at Santa Anita, California."

I note that this coincides with opinions formed by this writer with regard to times hung up by current sprinters, as compared with some of the greats of long ago.

During the first three years of racing at Tucson's Hacienda Moltaqua track, 100 quarter running horses competed. From these 100, 20 were chosen to be known as Celebrated American Quarter Running Horses on the factual basis of conditions and times established. Those 20 were Shue Fly, Clabber, Joe Reed II, Red Man, Alex The Great, Nobodies Friend, Painted Joe, Arizona Girl, Blueberry Hill, Don Manners, Chicaro, Little Joe Jr, Cyclone, Cowboy, Red Racer, Pay Dirt, Domino, Bartender, Prissy and Sugar Foot.

It may be interesting to learn what times were made by the top six...

Horse Sex Age 220 350 440 660
SHUE FLY Ch. M. 1937 :13   :22.6 :33
CLABBER Ch. H. 1937 :12.6 :18.4 :22.8  
JOE REED II Ch. H. 1936 :13   :22.8  
RED MAN R. H. 1935 :12.8 :18.4    
ALEX THE GREAT Br. H. 1936 :13 :19.4 :22.8  
NOBODIES FRIEND Blk. H. 1939 :13 :22.8  

In this sketch we'd like to say a few words about Red Man. The photo [above] shows Red Man at Hacienda Molttacqua. The track was just a flat place scraped in the desert; the time posted was :18.3. Behind Red Man came Cyclone, Arizona Girl and Clabber. Red Man held two track records - 220 under 150 pounds in :12.6, and 350 packing 123 in :18.3.

Red Man was a horse of tremendous Power. He measured 27" around the forearm, with stifle and gaskin in proportion. He was a hard horse to beat from the gate. He finished third to Shue Fly and Clabber in the 1943 World's Championship Quarter, beaten by only one-half of a length.

He was sired by Joe Hancock, whose sire was John Wilkens (by Peter McCue). The owner of Red Man was a cowboy, Kenneth Gunter of Benson, Arizona, where he stood the horse for many years.

A chart on page 7 of the Quarter Running Horse (1945) shows Red Man credited with going 200 yards, while carrying 150 pounds, in :12.6. He had what it took and unstintedly passed along his best qualities: his amazing speed, power and ability to pack weight. From very ordinary mares he put quite a number of straightaway runners smack into the Register of Merit, such as Lilly Belle, who won her first race under 125 pounds when only 11 months old and still sucking, and at 16 months was plain greased lightning; there was also Wampus Kitty, High Gear, Step In, the very good Worryman, John Red, Red Dan, Bunkie, Red Juniper, Wac Chaser, Victory, Miss Atomic and many others. Today, with money and promotion behind him, Red Man might have come powerfully near to the top as a progenitor of straightaway sprinters.

Red Man ran well at any distance. How well may never be determined, but the evidence is there in the light of track conditions, surfaces and the electric timer currently used to eliminate guesswork and human errors of clocking. Red Man's record, established in '41 or '42 at Moltacqua-a harrowed strip scraped out of the desert - of: 12.6 under 150 pounds for 220 yards, was not much lowered until Tonto Gal hung up a mark of: 12.1 for that distance under 120 pounds in 1946 and she ran it at Rillito on a much improved surface.

A Chapter from Nelson Nye's Book "Great Moments in Quarter Racing History"
Submitted by Lee Jones

back to:   articles & history