Horse-Breeding History: Kaweah Bar

The “Palomino Express” was ornery, but he could run.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

Kaweah Bar won his first start, at Bay Meadows in 1968, by 3 1/2 lengths. That was just a sign of things to come from the “Palomino Express,” the darling of the $2 bettors. The 1966 gelding didn’t look like your typical racehorse. He wasn’t the lean, trim type, but he also wasn’t the blocky, bulldog cow horse. Kaweah Bar was somewhere in between, but he could run. Kaweah Bar won 21 stakes races, 12 of which are now graded events, and 38 races overall in his nine-year career. He’s the only horse to repeat as world champion without doing it back to back. All told, he won 12 racing championships and earned $386,516 in his career.

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Kaweah Bar would have made his connections richer and himself an even greater legend if he hadn’t been so darned ornery. At times, he was downright fractious, losing at least four $100,000 races because of his bucking and misbehavior. He especially got cranky when jockeys used the stick. “There were times when I whipped him as I left the gate and he went on and ran,” said jockey Bobby Adair, who was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 1998, the same year Kaweah Bar was inducted. “But there were other times when I whipped him, and he’d sull up; 95 percent of the time, you’d hit him, and he’d buck.” The palomino was only ornery on the racetrack. Back at home, he’d eat human food and loved to drink beer straight from the can. If someone would hold it tipped up, Kaweah Bar cupped his lips around the can and never spilled a drop. Kaweah Bar was incredibly sound, running 114 times. His dam, the Go Man Go daughter Angie Miss, produced sound and ornery babies. Kaweah Bar was sired by Alamitos Bar during the promising stallion’s first foal crop.

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The Haden Livestock Co. of Lockeford, California, bought him as an early 2-year-old and owned the horse through much of his racing career. Sold as a chariot horse following his retirement from the flat track, Kawaeh Bar fell while loading into the trailer in late 1976. The horse broke his leg and suffered a heart attack trying to regain his footing. Each year, Los Alamitos Race Course in California holds the Kaweah Bar Handicap in honor of the Palomino Express.