Three Bars (TB) 1940 chestnut stallion
Bred on James W. Parrish’s Midway, Kentucky, farm, Three Bars (TB) dam, Myrtle Dee, and two other mares were bought by Jack Goode, Ned Brent and Bill Talbot in the spring of 1940. Just days after the purchase, Myrtle Dee foaled a good-looking chestnut colt on April 8, 1940. The men named the foal Three Bars, hoping he would pay off like a slot machine.
Goode placed the colt in race training as a two-year-old, but leg problems kept Three Bars from winning until he was three. He was injured as a 3-year-old and spent most of 1944 recuperating. Three Bars returned to competition and finished the year with three wins in four starts. However, the last race was a claiming race, and Toad Haggard and Stan Snedigar took ownership of Three Bars for $2,000.
The partners hauled the stallion to Phoenix, Arizona, with the intention of breeding him to Quarter Horse mares and racing him. Hearing of the Thoroughbred, Sidney H. Vail traveled to Phoenix to inspect the stallion for breeding purposes. Liking what he saw, Vail bought Three Bars for $10,000 in 1945.
As a sire, Three Bars found his stride. By the end of the 1950s, a number of mare owners either could not get their mares on the stallion’s limited stud book or could not afford the fee.
Walter Merrick of Oklahoma knew he’d hit the jackpot when he started breeding mares to Three Bars. He persuaded owner Sidney H. Vail to let him lease the stallion for three breeding seasons, 1952-54. Instead of breeding 12 or 15 mares a year, suddenly Three Bars was breeding 70. After the lease was up, Merrick hauled his best mares to wherever Three Bars was standing.
Three Bars was the sire of 29 AQHA Champions, 4 AQHA Supreme Champions, 317 Racing Register of Merit earners, and his foals earned more than $3 million on the racetrack. Among his famous offspring were Mr. Bar None, Gay Bar King, Sugar Bars, Lightning Bar, Tonto Bars Gill, St. Bar, Steel Bars, Barred and Bar Money. Others include Triple Chick, Alamitos Bar, Bar Depth, Royal Bar, Josie’s Bar, and Galobar.
His grandson Doc Bar became one of the most influential sires of cutting horses ever known. Another grandson, Tonto Bars Hank, sired all around horses. Jewel’s Leo Bars (Freckles), an outstanding cutting horse and sire of cutting horses, was another grandson of Three Bars (TB).
Impressive, a triple descendant of Three Bars, became the most prepotent sire of Quarter Horse halter horses from the 1970s through the 1990s. His offspring Rocket Bar (TB), Sugar Bars, Lena’s Bar (TB), Lightning Bar and Zippo Pat Bars were all inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame. Of his grandget, Doc Bar, Zippo Pine Bar, Easy Jet, Kaweah Bar, Zan Parr Bar, and The Invester were inducted into the AQHA Hall of Fame. Four of his sons were AQHA Supreme Champions — Kid Meyers, Bar Money, Fairbars, and Goldseeker Bars
From 1945 to 1963, Three Bars sired 554 foals. His stud fee went from $100 in 1945 to $10,000 in 1963.
On April 6, 1968, two days shy of his 28th birthday, Three Bars (TB) died from a heart attack at Merrick’s ranch in western Oklahoma, where he had returned to stand the 1967 season.
At the time of his death, he was the all-time leading sire of racing ROM qualifiers, of AAA runners and of money earners, his get having earned $2,857,781.
He was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 1989. Three Bars will be the first Thoroughbred inducted into the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Hall of Fame.