Chicaro was foaled in Kentucky in 1923. He was bred by American businessman and philanthropist Harry Payne Whitney. Chicaro was by Whitney’s leading sire Chicle and out of Wendy, by Peter Pan. Wendy was the dam of thirteen foals including stakes winners March Hare and Zelide. Whitney repeated the cross that produced Chicaro five more times. His full siblings Elf, Swordsman, Grizel, Elf Lock, and Nevernever were all race winners. Elf was the dam of the successful sprinter Boojum. This strong family of speedsters was likely responsible for Chicaro’s compact characteristics that made him popular with Quarter Horse breeders.
In 1928, John Dial, an expert horseman from Goliad, Texas, bought Chicaro from an owner in New Orleans. The stallion had been badly neglected. He had almost died from pneumonia and was very underweight. Nevertheless, Dial could tell that the scraggly five-year-old had potential. Dial made discreet inquiries about his breeding and history. When Dial learned of Chicaro’s excellent pedigree, he decided to purchase the stallion. On the trip home to Goliad, Chicaro spent a night in Abbeville, Louisiana. Coincidentally, Zerengue’s Belle, a Quarter Horse mare by the Thoroughbred stallion Dewey, was at the same farm. Chicaro bred Zerengue’s Belle during the layover and the resulting foal, Flying Bob, would later become an outstanding racehorse and sire.
Dial was under the impression that Chicaro never raced due to an injury. However, according to Equineline, Chicaro had a race record of eighteen starts, one win, two seconds, and three thirds with $1,700 in earnings, which is the equivalent of about $30,000 today. His most notable start was a third-place finish in a stakes race at Pimlico in Baltimore, Maryland. It is unclear how Chicaro made his way to Louisiana. At some point, he stuck a nail through his ankle when he pawed a plank off a fence. That injury left him crippled. It is likely to have been what ended his racing career and resulted in his neglect.
Thankfully, Dial was able to get Chicaro healthy again. He fed him generously and groomed him regularly. His superb conformation became apparent once he filled out. Chicaro was stout with a refined head, short back, and strong shoulders. He possessed the heavy muscling that South Texas breeders desired.
Bob Kleberg of the famed King Ranch met Chicaro for the first time when the stallion was nine years old. Kleberg went to Dial’s ranch to purchase Ada Jones, a Quarter Horse mare by Little Joe. Kleberg regularly integrated Thoroughbred bloodlines into his cow horse breeding program. When Kleberg saw Chicaro, he noticed that the stallion had almost all the traits that he looked for in an outcross. In 1934, Kleberg purchased Chicaro for $4,000, which would be almost $90,000 today. He brought the stallion to the King Ranch along with Ada Jones and a few other mares that Chicaro was later crossed on.
Chicaro inspired Kleberg to study Thoroughbred bloodlines more closely. At first his intention was to use Thoroughbreds to improve the Old Sorrel Quarter Horses. However, Kleberg soon began breeding Thoroughbreds for racing as well. Chicaro was integral in both ventures. He sired 46 Thoroughbred race-winners including Maecaro, Edna H., Jair, Eye for Eye, Pajas, Raw Recruit, Chicharra, Equal Chance, Albert Beck, Chickore, Good Company, Cherry Chic, Johnnie D., Totache, Miss Chicaro, Chicaro Boy, Gaunte, Edri, and Tricky Miss. His Quarter Horse race winners included the aforementioned Flying Bob as well as Chicaro Bill, John Dial, Tony McGee, and Johnny Glinzer.
Verguenza, a bay mare by Chicaro and out of Blushing Sister, produced the 1950 Kentucky Derby winner Middleground for the King Ranch. About twenty of his daughters were bred to Quarter Horse stallions at the ranch. Those included La Billetera, Cambiada, Chicara, Chicaro’s Hallie, Chicharita Segunda, Texas Pride, Esperanza, Lucy Brown, Milky Way, La Mindieta, Mrs. S., Petrita, and Villitera. Through those mares, the Chicaro bloodline produced Woven Web, Boiler Maker, King Hand, Witchbrew, Chovasco, and more.
Flying Bob was the best of Chicaro’s sons. He sired Queenie, Dee Dee, Bay Annie, Lucky, Punkin, Effie, Danger Boy H, Snug and Mayflower and many others. Chicaro Bill sired Senor Bill and Chicado V. Sudden Change, a Thoroughbred son of Chicaro, was used as an outcross on the ranch. He sired twelve mares. John Dial, a Quarter Horse by Chicaro and out of Ada Jones and named for the previous owner of both of his parents, was also used in the breeding program.
In total, Chicaro sired 102 registered Thoroughbred foals. Although he was breeding mares before the formation of the American Quarter Horse Association, 54 of his foals made their way into the AQHA registry. Many of those Quarter Horse foals were originally registered with the National Quarter Horse Breeders Association. Chicaro appears in the NQHBA stud books more than 300 times. It is nearly impossible to find a Quarter Horse alive today that does not trace back to this influential sire.
Sources: Equineline, Equibase, The King Ranch Quarter Horses, Speed and the Quarter Horse
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