Lady Luck played a hand in his name, but Three Bars (TB) hit the jackpot when he began his career as a sire.
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. 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 3. 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 was impressed with Three Bars, and leased the chestnut for two years. After the lease was up, Merrick hauled his mares to wherever Three Bars was standing.
The stallion’s Thoroughbred progeny include Lena’s Bar (TB), dam of Easy Jet; Lucky Bar, sire of Impressive; and Rocket Bar, grandsire of Dash For Cash. His American Quarter Horse sons include Lightning Bar, Sugar Bars, Gay Bar King, Barred, Zippo Pat Bars and others.
The stallion died two days shy of his 28th birthday on Merrick’s ranch. He was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 1989.
Biography updated as of March 1989.