Mr Bar None
Mr Bar None, the only World Champion son of Three Bars, was foaled in February, 1955, to owners and breeders Oscar and Zelma Jeffers Jr, Wagoner Oklahoma Ford dealers. Oscar was known as “June” which was short for Junior as his dad was Oscar Sr. June is quoted in the 1967 Stallion Issue of the Quarter Racing Record about the morning of his foaling, “I never saw anything like him. He was the most magnificent looking colt I have ever seen.”
June and Zelma had purchased his dam, Murl L, from Byrne James in Raymondville, TX. In the late 1940s, Murl L had a reputation as a top match race mare in South Texas and Oklahoma. In 1951, she won a 220-yard match race in Enid, 5 months in foal at the time, as seen in this win photo. The next day she was shown at halter by June and won reserve champion.
In February, 1957, before his first start in official competition, Mr. Bar None won his first race in Porter, OK, defeating Queenwood AA. The next Sunday, he won in Tulsa over Vinegar Bend. And then it was on to Rillito Park in Tucson, AZ.
The story of Mr Bar None has been published often in various equine magazines over the many decades. Let’s step back in time tonight and listen to June, who was also Mr Bar None’s trainer. These are his own words from letters he wrote to his sister Ruby as he traveled the country with his dark chestnut 2-year-old.
March 1957: “Dear Ruby, Mr. Bar None on his first outing. I guess some folks call it his debut. He has made the fastest time of any colt here for 300 yards. He is the colt I got when I hauled my best mare to Tucson and bred her to Three Bars and got this stud colt. There is a fellow here in Tucson that just follows me around offering me $10,000 for him. He will say, ‘Please June. Sell me that colt for $10,000.’ That sounds fantastic but it is true. The next races I have him in are the Kansas Futurity and Rocky Mountain. They are both run at Denver. Then the next is Enid. Then the next and largest is Pomona, California. It is the richest of all 2 year old races, a $15,000 purse. I am importing a jockey from California that I know to Denver — Kenneth Chapman”.
A string of seconds followed at Rillito, and then an overnight win at Los Alamitos. From there, the Oklahoma horseman and Mr Bar None traveled to Centennial Race Track where he wrote:
“Dear Sister Rube – Well, here I am in Littleton, CO. This is the last leg of my journey. At the last of June I go home from here. Then in September I go back to California to run in a $15,000 purse. I have already run against most of the colts that will run in it and beat about all of them. Me and my jockey think we have a good chance. We run the Kansas Quarter Horse Futurity trials here June 7th and the finals on the 12th. Then June 17th we run the Rocky Mountain Quarter Horse trials. After that I will be on my way home. I sure am going to try hard to win them both. We have a good enough colt if we get some good breaks. I have the leading quarter horse jockey riding for me. He is the one that come down to Tucson. Weighs 115 pounds. Has a wife, one boy, a Buick car, and he bought a trailer house just the other day. July 14 we run at Enid in the Oklahoma Futurity. I sure do want to win that this year, as it would mean so much to this young stud for breeding purposes. When I start to breed him I will start him at $300. That is as much or more than you can make now selling a new car.”
Mr Bar None won the Kansas Futurity. He then won the Rocky Mountain Futurity, setting a new track record at 350 yards. He was then first under the wire in the Oklahoma Futurity. After a brief rest in Wagoner, June hauled Mr Bar None once again to California. There, he would run in the Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Futurity, where he day-lighted the field to equal the track record at 350 yards. Next, in his first quarter mile run, Mr Bar None won the Winner Take All Stakes at the October New Mexico State Fair, equaling the two-year-old track record. At the end of his two-year-old year, Mr Bar None would have 18 official outs with 10 firsts and 8 seconds. This earned him the title of Champion Two-Year-Old Running Colt, rated AAA at every distance. After a good winter’s rest in Oklahoma, it was back to Rillito in March, 1958. Mr Bar None won his first out there, a 400-yard allowance race, by a length and a half. Then, he and June were off to Los Alamitos.
In April, 1958, June writes: “Dear Sister, Sorry I haven’t wrote you sooner but I haven’t had no good news until now. April 26 we won the richest of all quarter horse races here in Los Alamitos. Our race here was on television. Dale Robertson, the T.V. star, was supposed to make the presentation but he didn’t make it. I was never so thrilled in my life; to the quarter horse people it equals the Kentucky Derby. August 10th we run another race, the 440-yard Derby at Ruidoso, New Mexico. The $30,000 purse that will be the last big race of the year.”
Indeed, on April 26th Mr Bar None won the Pacific Coast Horse Racing Association Derby, only to be defeated on May 3rd in the 440-yard Los Alamitos Quarter Horse Championship. He finished 5th to some of the greatest racehorses in history, in order of track record-setting finish — Vanetta Dee, Go Man Go, Vandy’s Flash, and Clabber’s Win. Then, on May 24th at Bay Meadows, he turned around to defeat Vanetta Dee in the Bay Meadows Handicap. On May 31st, Mr Bar None won the California Horse Racing Association Handicap.
June and Mr Bar None were then off to Ruidoso Downs to run in the Maid of Cotton Allowance. June wrote his son Robert: “Me and Mr Bar None are just waiting for the big race Sunday. We are running with the fastest horseflesh in the world. A horse that has been World Champion 3 straight years – Go Man Go! It rained hard here all last night.”
On June 29th, 1958, Mr Bar None set the world record for 350 yards in a time of 17.6, defeating Go Man Go and Rocket Bar. “Dear Ruby: I think I told you in my last letter that Mr Bar None beat the fastest horses in the world of all ages. Not only that, but he set a new world record. It’s hard to believe we have the fastest quarter horse in the world. If nothing happens to him this year, he will be the world champion running quarter horse, and also the highest money earner of all time. Of course, that is counting your chickens before they hatch.”
In August, Mr Bar None won the Ruidoso Quarter Horse Derby with Dale Robertson’s Spanish Fort running a close second.
That month, Zelma Jeffers would write son Richard from New Mexico: “All you can hear down here is Mr Bar None, Mr Bar None. Some guy about half drunk bought our dinner yesterday. Never saw him before. He would set there at our table and say so pitiful, ‘I sure would like to own a good horse. Mr Bar None is the best horse in the world.’ – he would go over and over that. June lives and breathes Mr Bar None.” Mr Bar None won the Wonderland Stakes a few days later.
Another letter to Ruby: “Here me and Mr Bar None are in Albuquerque. I believe the people of Oklahoma are about ready to wake up. I understand our governor is for legal whiskey and horse racing. The horse people have been getting a lot of petitions signed for the people to vote on it. I sure believe we will have it in the near future. Mr Bar None has 8 straight wins now. I am going to build him a barn that will cost about $5,000, cement block fireproof. I will have a big sign upon the highway, saying Mr Bar None: fastest quarter horse in the world. I am sleeping in my truck right by his stall. The only time I leave him is to eat.”
In November, June and Mr Bar None were back in California. “Dear Ruby. Mr Bar None made the big time. A personal story and picture in the Los Angeles Times.” Mr Bar None even seems to outshine the Hollywood starlets who posed with him. He also got his picture taken with World Champion Heavyweight Wrestler Dick Hutton.
After a couple of disappointing 5th place finishes, June wrote his last letter on the racing circuit to his sister in late November from Los Alamitos: “These are the same horses I run at Ruidoso and beat them except one horse. This race meet will be awfully tough, as all the horses are in the best of condition, including Mr Bar None. So we will just do our best and hope. No use to worry about if we win or lose. Now you see why I have stayed on the road with him and lived with Mr Bar None. I just sleep 30 feet from him now as I write this letter. I can see his pretty head sticking out the door. It’s no wonder he is about all I talk about. The football coach in Wagoner came up to me last year and said, ‘June, I had predicted that horses one of these days would break you’, but he said he guessed he was wrong. Well, tell all my friends hello and we will all get together Christmas. Love, June”.
On December 13, 1958, Mr Bar None ran his last race, The Autumn Championship, the forerunner of today’s Champion of Champions. He was out to defeat one of the greatest casts of race horses ever assembled: Go Man Go, Vanetta Dee, Double Bid, Clabber Bar, Dividend, Vandy’s Flash and Clabber’s Win. Late that afternoon, June placed a collect call back to Wagoner where Zelma, his sons, and daughter-in-law were waiting for the results. Son Robert taped the call, where you can hear June yell, “We Won! – – by daylight!!” And later in the call: “You never saw so many people in your life. They took pictures all evening. That is something, boy, yessir. Hell, I didn’t think we’d win it. I got up this morning. He was walking around like an old horse with the dead lice falling off of him. I tried to get him to trot, he wouldn’t trot, he wouldn’t gallop. Chap, was there a headwind? No, no headwind. He day-lighted the field just like he did in Ruidoso!”
June then recapped the race for the folks back home. “I about gave Chap a heart attack in the paddock. Old Chap liked to have fainted because I told him to take him around that backstretch and work his ass over with that bat and I tell you he came out of there just like a cannon! 20 yards out, Chap hit him once and he just took off. He left there like the devil was after him. He day-lighted the field just like he did in Ruidoso. It is good to retire him on a race like that.” And so, at the end of 1958, Mr. Bar None held new titles: Champion Running Horse of the Year, Champion Stallion, Champion 3-Year-Old, and 1958 World Champion.
Mr Bar None was retired to stud in Wagoner, OK. He went on to sire champion running quarter horses Bar None Doll, Mr. Juniper Bar, and Bayou Bar. He was also one of the industry’s very successful broodmare sires, as sire of the dams of Flight 109, Mighty Deck Three, and Native Empress, to name a few. As a testament to his classic quarter horse versatility, Mr Bar None also passed on his greatness to paternal grandsons: the fabulous show horse sire Sonny Dee Bar, and The Bar None Quest and Mr. Bar None Cactus, both NFR roping qualifiers. In March of this year, Mr Bar None took his place in the 2014 American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame.
As June promised, Mr Bar None got his new cement block barn, built not more than 50 feet from the Jeffers’ bedroom window. The grand old man remained with the Jeffers family until his death on a cold, windy February afternoon in 1982, not more than a few feet from where he had drawn his first breath, one of the great chapters in Oklahoma quarter horse racing, the story of Mr Bar None.
Mr Bar None was inducted in to the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2014.