Clay Bennett – Bud Breeding Spirit Award Winner

Clay Bennett

Clay Bennett

Bud Breeding Spirit Award

Clayton I Bennett serves as President of Dorchester Capital, a diversified private Investment Company, and Chairman of Oklahoma City Thunder, a franchise of the National Basketball Association. In addition Bennett is involved in a broad variety of investment activities and serves as an officer and director of numerous business entities.


Highly involved in civic and charitable affairs, Bennett currently serves a Chairman of the Oklahoma State Fair and the Oklahoma Industries Authority. He is a past chairman of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, the Oklahoma Heritage Association, Downtown Oklahoma City Inc and the Oklahoma Health Center Foundation.  Bennett serves as a Director of the Oklahoma City Industrial and Cultural Facilities Trust, the National Football Foundation and the College Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation, the Research Institute of Economic Development, the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum and Casady School.


In 1990, Bennett received the Dean A McGee Award, which is presented annually to an individual who has made significant contributions to the development of downtown Oklahoma City, OK. In 1997, he was presented the Economic Development Citizen Leadership Award by the National Council of Urban Economic Development.  This national award is presented annually to the an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the field of urban economic development.  In 2007, Bennett was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.  In 2008, he was named Oklahoma of the Year by Oklahoma Today.

Bennett attended Casady School in Oklahoma City and the University of Oklahoma.


Bennett is married to the former Thelma Louise Gaylord, and together they have three children Mollie Inez, Christine Marie and Gaylord Graham.


Clayton I Bennett was inducted in to the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in the category of the Bud Breed Oklahoma Spirit Award.

Dee Raper

An established breeder involved in the stallion business for over 30 years, Dee Raper and his wife, Betty, oversee the daily work of Belle Mere Farm in Norman, Oklahoma, one of the state’s top stallion operations. In business since 1983, Belle Mere has featured many of the best Quarter Horse and Paint stallions in history, including the legendary Easy Jet.  The top athlete campaigned by Dee Raper was Eye Yin You, still the only horse to date to win the Remington Park Futurity (G1) and Derby (G2), achieving the illusive double in 2004 and 2005, respectively.


Dee and Betty Raper have been serving the horse industry since 1973, specializing in providing proven bloodlines for racing.


The farm was moved to its present location in Norman, Oklahoma in 1992. The farm sits on 320 acres in what was originally called the Ten Mile Flat area of Norman.


During their 30-plus years in the stallion breeding business, Dee and Betty have stood many of the greats in the industry including Easy Jet in 1985. The farm is a hands-on operation for Dee and Betty. On a daily basis you will find each of them in the barns, offices, or as Dee says “taking care of business”. Both have been very active in working for the industry and horse racing in Oklahoma.


Still active today with his wife Betty as owners and managers of Belle Mere Farms in Norman, Oklahoma, Dee is the guy who took time from managing the careers of Mr Eye Opener and Bully Bullion to help expand gaming at race tracks in Oklahoma.


Dee Raper was inducted into the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2010.




Impressive was born an Appendix American Quarter Horse, who earned his full AQHA registration in 1971. He was the 1974 World Champion Open Aged halter stallion, the first such World Champion in his breed, despite carrying only 48 halter points in total. He is famous for his highly successful progeny, having sired 2,250 foals. Nearly thirty of his offspring went on to be World Champions themselves.


In his showing days, Impressive changed hands a number of times, perhaps his most famous owner being Dean Landers, who also owned the famous halter stallions Two Eyed Jack, Coy’s Bonanza, and Sonny Dee Bar. Although Impressive raced for a short time after Landers sold him to Fennel Brown, he was quickly excluded from any performance discipline due to pedal osteitis, leaving halter as his only choice. His groundbreaking 1974 World Championship soon cemented his role in that discipline. Each time Impressive was resold, his price rose quickly; at one point, an offer of $300,000 for him was refused by Brown, who said “ain’t nobody in this world got enough money to buy this horse.”


Impressive was highly sought after for breeding, despite at one time carrying the outrageously high stud fee of $25,000. He sired a total of 2,250 foals, and as of 2003, was estimated to have in excess of 55,000 living descendants. He was bred for his muscular and refined form, which was passed on to his get often enough to make him at least the #5 all-time leading quarter horse sire when ranked by AQHA points earned by all progeny combined. Perhaps his greatest foal is Noble Tradition, a four-time World Champion stallion in halter, who has gone on to be a highly successful sire himself.


Impressive was inducted into the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Hall of Fame

Bill Hedge

Bill Hedge

Bill Hedge

With the dream of owning land for match races, Bill Hedge created Blue Ribbon Downs, which became the first pari-mutuel racetrack in Oklahoma.


Hedge was born in 1916 in Oklahoma. His father was a salesman and Bill’s mother had dreams of him becoming a bank president, but Hedge had other plans. As a youngster, he was an aspiring rodeo cowboy and taught himself how to steer wrestle by chasing down his parents’ dairy bull bareback on his bridleless horse.


After graduating from high school in 1936, he broke broncs and started colts for horsemen Bert Benear and Ronald Mason, owner of Oklahoma Star and Beggar Boy. In 1937, Hedge joined the Cowboy Turtles Association, forerunner of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

Hedge married Helen Bernice McEntire in January 1939. Hedge worked in a stockyard and as a salesman, and he owned a dairy and a café. In 1957, he became manager of Rowland Stanfield’s Quarter Horse operation, which under his direction became successful with racing and show horses. The following year, Hedge and his wife purchased 102 acres west of Sallisaw, Oklahoma, which he named Blue Ribbon Ranch, later to become Blue Ribbon Downs.


After selling Blue Ribbon Downs in 1973, Hedge continued to stay involved in the track as an owner and trainer. His record as a trainer included sending out 78 winners from 510 starts, with horses he saddled earning $510,622. 


He conditioned three winners of four stakes, including Oklahoma Futurity winner Taking On The Bully and Oklahoma Derby winner Willwintoo. Hedge sent out his homebred A Dash Of Native to win the 2002 Blue Ribbon Futurity. This was the only time he won the marquee event.


Hedge died in July 2002, eight hours after A Dash Of Native won an allowance race at Fair Meadows in Tulsa, Oklahoma.


Hedge was the first inductee into the Blue Ribbon Downs Hall of Fame. In 2003, he was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2010.


Go Man Go

Go Man Go

Go Man Go

The number of wins, a horse’s speed index and the dollar sign are quantitative proof of a Quarter Horse’s running ability.  Go Man Go had all the right numbers, but one – an AQHA registration number. The roan colt was foaled in 1953 on J. B. Ferguson’s ranch in Wharton, Texas.  The stallion was by Top Deck (TB) and out of Lightfoot Sis, by Very Wise (TB).  Bred to run, Go Man Go’s lineage included Equipoise, Man O’War, Old D J and Sir Gallahad.
Maintaining the family heritage, the roan was named the World Champion Racing American Quarter Horse in 1955, 1956 and 1957. A. B. Green, Purcell, Oklahoma, bought the stallion in 1955, and pushed for Go Man Go to be transferred from appendix to tentative registration.  The AQHA Executive Committee waited for the roan’s first foals before finally giving Go Man Go registration No. 82,000.
In 1960, two things happened.  Go man Go was sold to Frank Vessels Sr. and Bill and Harriett Peckham, and the roan’s first foals hit the track.  Go Man Go proved a potent sire. The roan sired All American Futurity winners, stakes winners and racing champions.  A few of his progeny were Go Josie Go, Goetta, Duplicate Copy and Hustling Man.  He was grandsire of Kaweah Bar, Mr. Kid Charge, Real Win and Rocket Wrangler, sire of Dash For Cash. Go Man Go died in 1982 and was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 1990 and the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2010.


Rodger Coday


Rodger was born with horses in his blood in Pensacola FL July 16, 1944 where his father was in the armed services. After serving they returned to their roots…Locust Grove OK, has a small dairy farm and Rodger attend Locust Grove School.  At the age of 7 his mother purchased his first horse for $35. When he was 13 Rodger has his first job opportunity.  Von Cook took Rodger and a horse he owned to Omaha NE.  Rodger worked all summer warming up and cooling race horses.  Both slept in the car. No problem for Von because he had no legs but a little cramped for Rodger.  Good memories.  Rodger left home his senior year and moved to Pryor OK where he attend school from 7 am until noon and worked in a furniture store from noon to 5 pm.


Rodger went in to the US Marine Corp in December 1968. His assignment was Combat Correspondent stationed in San Diego CA.  He was a journalist writing for a newspaper called the Chevron and took all the VIPs on tours of southern California.  Rodger made E5 or Sergeant in 13 months and served 2 years active and 4 years in the reserves.


While in the service he studied martial arts and received a brown belt. Upon returning to civilian life Rodger earned a 2nd degree black belt.  Then he taught self-defense classes at Rogers State College in Claremore OK, and also completed his Associates Degree.


Upon graduation he went into banking as a load officer for approximately 10 years. Then purchased his first business, a credit bureau and collection agency in Claremore OK which grew into three agencies in surrounding towns.

During this period the American Quarter Horse Youth Association World Championship Horse Show was held in Tulsa OK. Roy Burgess called and asked him if he would fill in for him.  Not only did he fill in for Roy, he volunteered every day until the horse show left Tulsa, mostly as a ring steward.  The last few years he volunteered as the AQHYA World Championship Horse Show when it was held in Fort Worth TX.  The he volunteered for the AQHYA World Championship Horse Show roping events in Oklahoma City, OK.  Of course, since he joined the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Association he has volunteered at all the OQHA horse shows.  For several years he served on various OQHA committees, Executive, Horse of the Year, Auction and Convention.


Rodger Coday

Rodger Coday

Because of his love for the Quarter Horse, it has always been a desire to further the growth of the American Quarter Horse Association and OQHA. In addition to the volunteer work he has had the opportunity to develop and help new members. This includes their learning and appreciating our trail riding program, helping young trainers not only see the value of becoming a member but instrumental in starting or growing their horse training business, see a new member become Rookie of the Year and learning to appreciate/love the Quarter Horse. In 2009, it was so rewarding for Rodger to help one child become a participant of the OQHYA in the AQHYA World Championship Horse Show and another young roper develop and learn some roping skills for his participation at the AQHYA World Championship Horse Show. He can tell you that nothing is so rewarding as seeing their smile after the participated and learning that they could have their picture taken just for doing their best.  We will have a new roper at the Bayer Select AQHA World Championship Horse Show in 2009 because Rodger has convinced him how much fun he will have, the friends he will make plus showcase his talent.  Rodger is hauling his horse to Amarillo TX and has had the calves for him to use for practice.  Hardly a day goes by that somebody is not at Rodger’s home riding or roping on their Quarter Horse.  Rodgers State University rodeo team’s practice, senior citizens with health problems to youth wanting to rope, ride and enjoy the Quarter Horse.


Rodger has been a member of AQHA since 1961. During the late Joe Sawyer’s reign as President of OQHA, he attended his first OQHA Convention at the Camelot Hotel in Tulsa OK.  At that convention, he was put on the race committee. In 1979 Rodger was elected to the OQHA Board of Directors and elected President in 1988.  He became an AQHA National Director in 1983.  Rodger was very fortunate to have had a great mentors in Joe Sawyer, Jack Anderson, Joe Young, Harold “Huddy” Hudspeth, Everett Salley and Bud Breeding.  They helped prepare him to serve on the AQHA Nominations & Credentials Committee twice. Show & Contest Committee and subcommittees World Show for 24 years.  In 2000 Rodger was elected to the prestigious position of AQHA Honorary Vice President.

In 1985 Rodger showed a halter gelding, Skips Chapter Two. The horse was shown at the AQHYA World Championship Horse Show where he placed first out of 51 horses.  With the help of Jerry Wells, Skips Chapter Two won the All American Quarter Horse Congress open and amateur and the AQHA World Championship Horse show in open and amateur.


After selling the credit bureaus, Rodger now owns and asphalt paving company in Tulsa OK. This company and its good employees have given him the opportunity to enjoy and make the Quarter Horse part of his everyday life.

At the age of 52, Rodger decided to try roping. He won the AQHA High Point Breakaway Roping five years in a row.  In 2002, his roping mare, Regers Sheba was the AQHA Leading Contention and High Point Tie Down Roping Horse.

During the time he met the Schroder family. It was like starting all over in the roping arena.  Robbie Schroeder showed him how to show a roping Quarter Horse at an AQHA horse show.  Robbie obtained a gelding, Irish Whiskey Mix by Paddy’s Irish Whiskey for Rodger.  This was a new experience…the horse was mor3e cowboy than Rodger was. However with Robbie teaching and Whiskey’s patience, they succeeded.  Whiskey was Reserve World Champion at the 2006 AQHA World Championship Horse Show in open Tie Down Roping.  Whiskey and Rodger were World Champions at the 2006 Beyer Select AQHA World Championship Horse Show in Breakaway Roping.  Then Robbie arranged for him to purchase a mare, Lil Red Chickadee by Rooster out of Genuine Redbud.  In 2008, she and Rodger won the Bayer Select AQHA World Championships in both Tie Down Roping and Dally Team Roping Heeling.  That same World Show Irish Whiskey Mix and Rodger tied for Reserve in Dally Team Roping Heading but lost to the tie breaker judge and ended up in third place.


Rodger’s Quarter Horses and he have won numerous state and national open and amateur classes in halter and roping over the years. As he says “the Quarter Horse becomes your best friend, is dedicated knows his/her job, gives you their best, meets difficult challenges and inspires people.  It is a real partnership and brings out the best in a person.”  Every one of these great horses has been treasured.  The Quarter Horse is his way of life.  He knows he is so fortunate.  He also knows he has the best guardian angels and certainly does keep them busy.


Bugs Alive in 75

Bugs Alive In 75

Bugs Alive In 75

Foaled in 1973, the 15.2 hand sorrel stallion was named for the year he would be eligible to run in the All-American Futurity. And run he did. In 1975, Bugs Alive In 75, lived up to his name, winning the All-American and with it the richest purse quarter horse racing had witnessed up to that time. That same year he was named Quarter Horse Running 2-year-old Colt and Stallion, and was the 1975 High Money-Earning Horse.


Those closest to him have contributed clues to his success. His jockey likened his start to a drag race. He said that the horse took such a deep bite of the ground, that with all his power, it was like ‘spinning your wheels’ at the start. He was said to come out of the gate so strong that you had to be careful not to lose control. Top a good start like that with blinding speed and you have one hard to catch horse. His wins were at distances of 330 yards up to 440 yards. He had the start and the quick speed, and also the stamina to see it through.


Bugs Alive died following colic surgery on December 15, 1985 at the age of 12. He was owned by the late Ralph Shebester, and Tommy Wells of Harrah, Oklahoma, stood him. In an interview with Barrel Horse News, Wells was asked about the traits the stallion passed on to his progeny. “Stamina and willpower,” he said. “They’re not quitters. Bugs wasn’t a quitter. Pain’s no problem, they just keep going.”


In the barrel arena, Bugs Alive has sired some top money earners, and two (2) were out of the great mare, Slash J Harletta, the dam of Fire Water Flit. One of these was Smakabug, a 1980 model that took Celie Ray and Jimmie Munroe to the WPRA pay window. The other was I Got Bugs, a 1982 gelding that Celie Ray rode all the way to the NFR in 1987 and 1989.


Today, Bugs Alive is making the greatest impression with his maternal offspring. His own daughters are older now, and growing scarce, but they are still producing horses of rare quality. Equistat has continually listed Bugs Alive In 75 as the number one leading maternal grandsire of barrel horses over the last 10 years, and there is no other horse even close. And by the way, when you look at the statistics, pay attention to the number of horses reported. If only one or two horses contribute to a high rating, then that winning horse could be a fluke. But Bugs Alive In 75 has hundreds of money winning horses contributing to his rating! That suggests this blood wins when crossed with many different types of mares, and when the horses are ridden by many different riders. Year after year, Bugs Alive In 75 continues to be the leading maternal sire of money winning barrel horses.


Bugs Alive In 75 was inducted into the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2010.

Baby Doll Combs

Baby Doll Combs

Baby Doll Combs

Steer wrestling horse Baby Doll Combs embodied the characteristics cowboys have always admired: determination, honesty, strength and try.

Foaled in 1947, the little mare was by Oklahoma Star Jr by foundation sire Oklahoma Star and out of a Bert mare named Miss Boctick. The bay weighed 1,030 pounds and stood 14.1 at maturity.


The little mare won the hearts of steer wrestlers on the rodeo circuit during the ‘50s.  From 1953 through 1960, she earned more than $400,000 for her riders.  Newspaper headlines across the country proclaimed her as “the Baby Doll the rodeo cowboys all love” and “Baby Doll, great rodeo horse is money-making marvel.” She was even the focus of two features in Life magazine, where famous all-around cowboy Bill Linderman was quoted as saying, “Baby Doll knew bulldogging better than some of the guys who rode her.”


Willard Combs of Checotah, Oklahoma, bought Baby Doll from Bill Odum of Pryor, Oklahoma, for $3,200 in 1955. Later that year, Combs’ brother, Benny, won the world championship on the little mare and Willard was the reserve champion.


In 1957, the mare carried her owner to a world championship. She was also the regular mount for those who finished second through fifth. Traditionally, the steer wrestler gives 25 percent of his earnings to whoever mounts him and hazes for him. Needless to say, Baby Doll had earned Combs quite a bit of mount money that year.


Combs noticed late in 1957 that Baby Doll had been putting on weight. Turns out, she had been eating for two. Checotah Star was her first and only colt.


Baby Doll Combs’ legacy came to an abrupt halt after bulldogging at a rodeo in Salina, Kansas. The tough mare broke out into a sweat and showed all the signs of colic. A veterinarian diagnosed her with a ruptured intestine. Baby Doll Combs died in the arms of her owner. Combs loaded her body into his trailer and drove the 350 miles back home to Checotah to give her a proper burial.


Baby Doll Combs was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2010.