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2015 Hall of Fame Inductees Announced

Five horses and four men will join the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2015.

The American Quarter Horse Association
April 1, 2014

grand hall

The American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame will welcome five horses and four men in 2015.

Five horses and four men will join the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2015. 

“These distinguished men and horses are part of the history of the American Quarter Horse, and we’re pleased to welcome them into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame,” said Don Treadway Jr., executive vice president of the American Quarter Horse Association. “Their achievements have made them worthy to join the illustrious group already enshrined in the Hall of Fame.”

The horses are the 1989 mare Corona Chick, the 1959 stallion Coy’s Bonanza, the 1930 stallion Plaudit, the 1979 stallion Smart Little Lena and the 1962 Thoroughbred stallion Azure Te.

The four men are Thomas Bradbury of Byers, Colorado; AQHA Past President Jim Helzer of Arlington, Texas; the late Stanley Johnston of Miller, South Dakota; and the late Ted Wells Jr. of Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

The new members of the Hall of Fame will be inducted in March 2015 at the 2015 AQHA Convention in Fort Worth, Texas. While they come from different parts of the country, the men all had the common goal of improving the breed and the horses definitely left their legacies. We are honored to recognize their work and lives.

The Broodmare

Corona Chick started fast and only got faster. She began her race career May 17, 1991, placing second, one of the few times in her life that she was not first. She set two track records in her life and was the 1991 racing champion 2-year-old filly and 1992 racing champion 3-year-old filly.

The bay mare was by Chicks Beduino and out of Sizzling Lil by Sizzle Te. She was bred by Robert D. Etchandy of Anaheim, California, raced under the Etchandy family name and last was owned by Julianna Hawn Holt of Blanco, Texas.

Corona Chick finished her track career with a record of 18 starts, 15 wins and two seconds, finishing off the board only once. She had earnings of $591,326. As a broodmare, Corona Chick became an American Quarter Horse Dam of Distinction. Of her 16 foals, 14 starters earned $3.6 million. Her 1995 filly by First Down Dash, Corona Cash, won the All American Futurity (G1) in 1997 and her sons Corona Cartel, Valiant Hero and Captain Courage are all leading sires of racing American Quarter Horses.  

The Ranch Horse

Plaudit was foaled in 1930 and purchased by Coke Roberds as a 3-month-old. He passed through a few more owners before landing with Waite Philips at Philmont Ranch at Cimarron, New Mexico. Plaudit was used as a working ranch horse, as well as a breeding stallion, and was occasionally raced on bush tracks for 10 years.

The palomino stallion was by the Thoroughbred stallion King Plaudit and out of Colorado Queen by Old Nick. He was bred by Tom Mill of Meeker, Colorado, and was last owned by Leon Harms of Sandia Park, New Mexico.

The stallion sired horses that were successful in the show pen and on the track, including Question Mark, who with a broken pastern defeated the nearly unbeatable Shue Fly in a half-mile race. Plaudit became known as a broodmare sire through his daughters and granddaughters. His blood runs today through horses of the Skipper W lines.

The Champion

In 1961, Coy’s Bonanza earned seven grand championships and 10 reserve championships at halter. He went to the racetrack in 1962 but shinbucked and was sent home. In 1963, he was shown at halter 53 times to 40 grand championships and 13 reserves, making him the 1963 high-point halter stallion.

The sorrel stallion by Jaguar and out of Sparky Joann by Littlejoethewrangler was bred by Charlene Coy of Lander, Wyoming, and was owned by Bill Moomey of Vail, Arizona, who sent the stallion back to the racetrack where he earned a AAA rating. Coy’s Bonanza became an AQHA Champion and earned points in reining, western pleasure and western riding.

Exhibitors of the era sought out foals by Coy’s Bonanza to show in halter and performance classes. From 16 foal crops, Coy’s Bonanza had 26 foals become AQHA Champions like him. A total of 112 earned 4,633 halter points and 117 earned 4,248 performance points.

The Cutter

When Smart Little Lena was foaled, his name came from his small size. The sorrel stallion never let his size stop him, though, as he won the 1982 National Cutting Horse Association Futurity and followed that win up with first-place finishes in the NCHA Super Stakes and NCHA Derby to claim cutting’s triple crown.

Smart Little Lena was by Doc O’Lena and out of the mare Smart Peppy by American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame stallion Peppy San. Smart Little Lena was bred by Hanes R. Chatham of Fort Worth, Texas. After his triple crown win, he was syndicated before heading to the breeding shed, where he sired money-earning foals in reining, working cow horse and cutting.

Smart Little Lena’s foals earned almost $35 million in NCHA competition. He was inducted into the NCHA Hall of Fame in 2008.

The Thoroughbred

Azure Te was foaled in 1962 and raced on Thoroughbred tracks until he bowed a tendon and was retired. He then was purchased by Burnett Ranches as an outcross Thoroughbred stallion to complement American Quarter Horse broodmares.

His syndication in 1968 is thought to be the first syndication of a stallion for American Quarter Horse racing. The bay stallion was by Nashville and out of Blue One by Count Fleet, and was owned by the Azure Te Syndicate of Fort Worth, Texas.

From his first American Quarter Horse foal crop, Azure Te placed three finalists in the All American Futurity. From that first crop, only one starter wasn’t a winner. At the time of his death in 1983, he was the all-time leading Thoroughbred sire of Quarter racehorses, a title he claimed for nearly 10 years.

The Racer

Tom Bradbury of Byers, Colorado, began his Bradbury Land and Cattle Co. ranch in 1958, raising Hereford and Red Angus cattle. In 1987, he purchased Dash For Speed, a track record-setting mare who was world champion in 1990 and earned $1.225 million on the track.

Tom also owned syndicated shares in Wave Carver, First Down Dash and Teller Cartel.

Tom has been involved in many national agriculture and livestock groups, including AQHA, the American Red Angus Association, the American Hereford Association and the Rocky Mountain Quarter Horse Association, where he has been a member since 1959 and has served as president. Bradbury is an AQHA Director Emeritus. He served in community organizations and is on the Colorado State University alumni board. He also is involved with the National Western Stock Show.

The Executive

James E. Helzer of Arlington, Texas, is a 20-year breeder of American Quarter Horses who served as AQHA president in 2009-10. The racing breeder and his wife, Marilyn, bought their first racehorse in 1962.

While working in the defense industry, Helzer trained racehorses on the side and eventually became a roofing contractor who built a business that grew to nine states and 33 locations. In 1990, he bought Refrigerator, who won that year’s All American Futurity, became a two-time world champion in racing, retired as the then all-time leading money earner with $2,126,309 and was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2000. In 1993, Helzer turned his business expertise to breeding American Quarter Horses and established the first of his stallion stations in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. After Helzer’s term as AQHA president, he continues his service on AQHA committees.

The Rancher

The late Stanley Johnston was a man who liked speed in his ranch horses. When he began breeding American Quarter Horses at his ranch in South Dakota, he introduced a band of Driftwood mares to cross on his stallion, Poco Speedy.

Johnston’s breeding program contributed to the legacy of the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame stallion Driftwood, who was known for his speed and rodeo prowess. Johnston crossed Doc’s Jack Frost on one of his Driftwood granddaughters to create Sun Frost, one of the leading sires of barrel racing horses in the United States.

In addition to breeding rodeo stars, Johnston’s influence spread throughout South Dakota, where many ranchers in the area still advertise that their breeding program includes Johnston-bred horses.

The Breeder

The late Ted Wells Jr. inherited a legacy and he knew what to do with it. Wells’ father had owned Hall of Fame stallion Leo, and Wells owned and trained Leo’s earliest offspring.

Wells conditioned Lena’s Bar, the dam of Jet Smooth and Easy Jet, and he conditioned Savannah Jr to win the 1965 All American Futurity and be the champion 2-year-old colt in 1965 and the champion 3-year-old in 1966. At the 1971 All American Futurity, three of the top 10 horses were bred at Wells Ranch in Oklahoma, where Wells stood Savannah Jr and Azure Te.

In the 1970s, Wells became involved in AQHA governance, serving on the racing committee and working as president of the Oklahoma Horsemen’s Association, where he was influential in securing pari-mutuel racing in the state.

The American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum beautifully showcases the dozens of horses and people who have earned the distinction of becoming part of the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame. To be a part of the Hall of Fame, horses and people must have been outstanding over a period of years in a variety of categories. Inductees are those who have brought exceptional visibility and/or contribution to the American Quarter Horse. Hall of Fame inductees are chosen each year by a selection committee and honored at the annual AQHA Convention.

For more information on the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum, visit www.aqha.com/museum.

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