Leo San was that outstanding stallion, sire of American Quarter Horse Hall of Famers Peppy San and Mr San Peppy.
Leo San, foaled in 1949, was by Leo and out of San Sue Darks by San Siemon. He was bred by H.H. Darks of Wetumka, Oklahoma. Gordon B. Howell, a pedigree student and longtime breeder from El Paso, Texas, was looking for exactly those bloodlines when he found Leo San as an 8-year-old in 1957.
Howell bought Leo San and began building a broodmare band to complement the sorrel stallion, including Peppy Belle, the dam of Peppy San and Mr San Peppy.
“He was a horse with a tremendous amount of action, and he was a tremendous athlete – very agile despite his size,” Howell told the Quarter Horse Journal in January 1970. “He was broke to ride and very gentle with a wonderful disposition. He passed that disposition on to his get. Anybody could handle the horse under normal circumstances.”
Leo San earned nearly $750 in National Cutting Horse Association competition, in an era when first place might earn just a few dollars.
Foals sired by Leo San earned 1,671 AQHA points in halter and 1,497 points in all performance divisions. He sired one world champion and the earners of $14,329 on the racetrack. His foals were shown in every AQHA event, and in NCHA competition, they earned $219,890.15 – again in an era of smaller purses.
Leo San died of a heart attack in 1968, but Howell used Leo San daughters to continue his breeding program. As late as 1999 – 31 years after the stallion’s death – he was still ranked among the top 10 paternal sires of American Quarter Horses. He was also an outstanding sire of dams. His daughter’s foals earned points and money in NCHA, National Reining Horse Association, National Reined Cow Horse Association, Palomino Horse Breeders of America and the International Buckskin Horse Association – plus $245,221 on the track.
Leo San was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2014.
Biography updated as of March 2014.