The sorrel stallion had a busted knee and a stifle injury, yet Bud Warren paid $2,500 for 7-year-old Leo, and the state of Oklahoma laughed. It was not long before Leo quieted the critics.
The stallion was born in 1940 on John Wesley House’s place near Cameron, Texas. Leo was sired by Joe Reed II by Joe Reed, and out of Little Fanny also by Joe Reed.
In 1942, John W. Tillman of Pawhuska, Oklahoma, bought Leo for $750, and the sorrel won a number of races for him.
Tillman eventually sold Leo, and the stallion went through numerous owners before Bud Warren of Perry, Oklahoma, bought the sorrel in 1947.
Warren remarked in a Quarter Horse Journal interview, “I was the biggest chump in Oklahoma. Leo was crippled. He had a bad knee and he had a big stifle injury. His owner had been trying to sell him and I didn’t know it. He hadn’t got anybody to stick his neck out and buy him, and I was just a big sucker. So I mailed the check.”
It was the right decision, as Leo proved to be a prolific sire and is best remembered as a broodmare sire. Some of Leo’s better-known progeny were Croton Oil, Leo Tag, Leola, Robin Reed and Leo San. A few of the horses produced by Leo’s daughters were Sugar Rocket, Jet Threat, Coldstream Guard, Milk Rivers, Kid Meyers and Fairbars.
Leo was 23 when his left knee started giving him problems. The stallion would lie down to sleep or rest, but then was not able to get up without assistance. Eventually, Warren decided to put the sorrel down. Leo was buried on a hill across from the house.
Leo died in 1967 at 27, and was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 1989.
Biography updated as of march 1989.