History

Thoroughbred horses played an integral role in the development of other breeds. Their conformation, speed, and agility contributed to the talent of modern performance horses. Today, the names of Thoroughbred stallions and mares can be found stamped in the pedigrees of proven racing, barrel racing, cutting, reining, roping, pleasure, and halter horses.

Piggin String, a Thoroughbred stallion foaled in 1942, won short distance races and performance horse classes. He was said to be the ideal Quarter Horse.

The Thoroughbred is the result of a selective breeding program that began at the turn of the 17th century. Stallions imported from the Mediterranean Middle East were crossed with strong English mares. Their excellence was tested on the race track and became a popular sporting event in Europe. As horse racing spread into North America, colonists sought to make the sport their own. Thrilling quarter-mile races were held as early as 1674 in Virginia. To meet the demand of these short races, some breeding programs shifted to produce a type of Thoroughbred that was suitable for sprinting. Like the sprinters of today, they were muscular, compact, and athletic.

The phrase ‘Celebrated American Quarter Running Horse’ denoted top sprinters in early Thoroughbred stud books. The phrase was later shortened and became the designation of a new breed in 1940 when the American Quarter Horse Association was founded. The first twenty foundation sires registered with the AQHA are all descended from Thoroughbreds. Actulally of the first twenty, Rialto, Chief, Colonel, Sheik, Whiskaway, and Little Richard have Thoroughbred grandparents, and Joe Reed and Oklahoma Star have Thoroughbred parents.

Little Lena Bars, a Thoroughbred mare foaled in 1960, set numerous track and world records against Quarter Horses. She was a full sister to Lena’s Bar, the dam of Easy Jet.

Even after the new breed was established, Thoroughbreds such as Piggin String, Woven Web, and Brigand continued to set track records and earn Champion Quarter Running Horse titles. Then in the 1960s, Little Lena Bars equaled the world record at 220 yards, and set new world records at 250, 300, and 330 yards. She also equaled and set new track records at 400 and 440 yards. Her dominance prompted retaliation from the young AQHA. When the organization realized that nearly all the records in Quarter Horse racing belonged to a Thoroughbred, they deleted all mention of times and records set by Thoroughbreds and banned the breed from major Quarter Horse races.

Despite this pushback, Thoroughbreds remained vital to the Quarter Horse industry. Old-school horseman will tell you that the best qualities of running horses come directly from Thoroughbreds. This is could be the reason why they are just as influential today as they were in the 1940s. We have compiled a list of Thoroughbreds that were important in the development and improvement of modern performance horses. Click on a horse’s name to read more about them. An asterisk denotes a horse that has been inducted into the AQHA Hall of Fame.

Aforethought

Afton Creek

Anaqua

Anchor Watch

Annahi

Arch Oldham

Ariel

Ashwell

Azure Te*

Baby Steel

Band Time

Bar Admiral

Barbara Lam

Barre Granite

Barrera

Bayard
Bayard II

Be Sure Now

Beadsman

Beduino*

Begger Boy

Big Klu
Big Red Bar
Bimelech
Blob
Blue Chord
Blue Gray

Bold Venture
Boojum

Boyarsky

Brigand

Buggins

Bull Boy

Buster Brown

Bymeabond
Cambridgeshire

Candyman Bee

Candy Mark
Captains Courageous

Cattail
Chain Lay
Cherry Lake*
Chicaro
Chicle
Close Watch

Coldstream

Confidant

Coup De Kas

Crafty Actor

Credit Balance

Custus Rastus 

Dark Quarry

Deep Note

Deep Sun

Dennis Reed

Depth Charge* 

Dewey

Direct Win

Disco Jerry 

Doc Horn

Dolly Dimples
Domino
Donie Dune

Dorothy E

Dothan

Double Feature

Dr Mack


Drayab

Eskrine Dale

Esters Little Klu*
Everett
Glass Bar
Good Bird

Green Flash

Greenock
Grey Leg
Fame We Will

Fast Fellow

Favorite Trick 

Feast

Find A Buyer

Fire Dog

First Ambassador

Fix-n-Mix

Fleet Kirsch

Fleeting Time

Flying Squirrel

Fol’s Native

Forever Young

Hadif

Handy Shot
Hawkins Special

Hempen

Hijo Beauty

Hy Diamond

Hygro

Hysition

I’ll Go

Jacks Jet

Jackstraw 

Jackstraw Jr

Jerry Crow
Jetalong

Jim J. 

Joe Blair

Johnny X

Kicapu Kid

Killoqua

King O’Neill

Lady Albert G
Lake Erie
Lani Chief
Lanolark

Lantana Belle
Lawyer

Leannie

Leinster House

Lena’s Bar*

Lilsalady

Line Up

Lite the Fuse

Little Lena Bars

Little Request
Little Vic

Lnatural

Long Chance
Los Molinos

Lost Cause
Lucky Bar

Lucky Mose

Luke McLuke

Mad Way

Madder Music

Magical Mile
Major Speck

Maroon*

Master Bunting

Master Gould

Master Hand 

Maynard L

Mayshego
Midway

Miss Bank

Miss Pines

Mito Paint 

Moolah Bux

Mr Good

Murrtheblurr

Nassak

Native Orphan

Nativo
No Cat

Noholme
Noo Music

Now Is The Time

Official

Oil Rig

Olympic Win

Orto Mambo

Osage Streaker
Pass Em Up

Past Due

Patriotic

Peace Pipe

Piggin String 

Pleasure Fund

Polamandy

Pondariel

Porte Drapeau

Prince Vic

Pukka Gent

R Smith

Raffles

Raise Your Glass 

Rancocas

Real Dish

Really Rugged

Reb’s Policy

Red Jewel

Rejected
Rene Depot

Reno Lord

Restless Runner
Rhonda K
Riches and Honor

Rocket Bar*

Roulade

Royal Bob

Rulla Bux

Salt Lake

Sculptor’s Whim

Seabiscuit

Sheridan

Shirleys Champion

Slewacide
Spanish Way

Spot Cash

Spotted Bull

Spy Song

Star Shoot

Staunch Avenger

Storm Cat 

Swift Solo 

Texas Dancer

Three Bars* 

Tilt The Odds

Top Deck*

Trippy Dip*
Truly Truckle

Truxton King
Uncle Jimmy Gray

Universe

Vandy

Venetian Jester

Very Wise

Vikingson

War Bam

Wave of Erie

Wayward Irving

Westy Rambler
What’s Cookin

With Regards

Woven Web*

Yankee Doll

Zevi