Hall of Fame, Part III: Bob Loomis and Indigo Illusion

Reining icon Bob Loomis and the striking mare Indigo Illusion earned their spot in the Hall of Fame.

This year, AQHA inducted six legends into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame: Gordon Hannagan, Bob Loomis and Walter Fletcher and horses Hollywood Dun It, Indigo Illusion and Streakin La Jolla.

“We are honored to welcome these six people and horses into an elite group of inductees,” says AQHA Executive Vice President Don Treadway Jr.

And America’s Horse Daily is honored to introduce them to you.

Bob Loomis

Bob Loomis, quite simply, is a reining icon, a universally recognized master in the world of precision riding.

The 1982 president of the National Reining Horse Association, Bob has won six NRHA Open Futurity championships, more than any other trainer. In addition, he has won the NRHA Derby and Superstakes, and trained and showed numerous AQHA and NRHA world champions. He also has written the book “Reining: The Art of Performance in Horses” and was inducted into the NRHA Hall of Fame in 1992.

Now 68, Bob began training reining horses professionally in 1966. He earned his first public notice as a reining trainer in 1972 when he was co-reserve champion at the NRHA Futurity on Britton Princess.

In 1976, C.T. Fuller sent High Proof to Bob for training. They won the NRHA open class at the All American Quarter Horse Congress, then the senior reining at the AQHA World Championship Show. High Proof’s elegant style changed the way reining horses were bred and trained. High Proof was inducted into the NRHA Hall of Fame in 1991.

The American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum is a great way to experience the western lifestyle. Come visit the exhibits showcasing the American Quarter Horse.

“I saw my first reining class in American Quarter Horse Association shows in the early 1960s,” he told the NRHA’s Reiner magazine. “From 1963 to 1966, I rode in AQHA reining classes, and Okies Bamboo was my first reining horse. She had so much talent, and I think she could still be competitive today. She was my first inspiration to want to rein.”

Bob began his breeding program in 1974 and four years later bought Topsail Cody to cross on his Boss’ Nowata Star mares. He trained and showed the stallion to win the NRHA Futurity in 1980 and be the AQHA World Champion in junior reining the following year. Topsail Cody was inducted into the NRHA Hall of Fame in 1996.

NRHA’s all-time leading sire, Topsail Cody also began the drive that made Bob the only breeder to have trained, shown and stood three generations of NRHA $1 million sires. The stallion was Bob's first $1 million sire, Topsail Cody’s NRHA Hall of Fame son Topsail Whiz became Bob’s second; and then Topsail Whiz’s son West Coast Whiz (an NRHA Derby reserve champion) made it three in a row.

Another very special horse in Bob’s career was Sophie Oak, on whom he won the NRHA Futurity in 1986, besting Hollywood Dun It and Tim McQuay.

Originally from Nebraska, Bob and wife Pam live on their Loomis Ranch at Marietta, Oklahoma, where they raise horses and Texas Longhorn cattle. An expert horsewoman, Pam also is a real estate agent specializing in ranch and farmland. The couple has two daughters from Bob’s first marriage: Bobbie and husband Coby, and Kelli and husband James of Ardmore. They have grandchildren Aaron, Jacob, Gatlin, Coby Jo and Garrett.

Their family and their horses are the loves of their lives.

“There are people who love horses, and there are people who love what horses can do for them,” Bob said. “I love horses.”

Indigo Illusion

A striking mare of impeccable breeding and near-flawless conformation, Indigo Illusion kicked off her career as a track record-setting champion and ended it as the mama of black-type sprinters who earned more than half a million dollars on the racetrack.

“I don’t really know how to describe her,” said her owner, former AQHA President Jerry Windham of College Station, Texas. “She was one of those once-in-a-lifetime mares, just a truly great horse. ‘Indigo’ had some really nice babies and was the matriarch of our family of horses.”

Bred by William Carter and Allen Baitzor of Clovis, California, and foaled in 1981, the dark brown filly was by Beduino (TB) out of the Duplicate Copy mare Copy Capri. Windham bought her for $7,000 at the Pacific Coast QHRA yearling sale.

On August 13, 1983, Indigo Illusion ran what then was the fastest quarter mile ever by a 2-year-old anywhere. It also was the second-fastest quarter mile by any horse on the California straightaway, bested only by Dash For Cash’s :21.17 track mark.

The occasion was the Faberge Special Effort Futurity, which was the last leg of the West Coast Triple Crown. At $853,380, the Faberge final drew a great field, including two other Beduinos, Grade 1 winner Tolltac, who scratched; and Grade 3 winner Check The Charts. Eventual world champion Dashs Dream was in the gate, and leaving as the favorite was Dash For Cash Futurity (G1) winner Face In The Crowd.
No problem.

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“The filly went to the gate really cool,” explained Robert Bard, who rode Indigo Illusion for trainer Bruce Jackson. “She was one of the only ones that never got a wet hair on her. Even as hot as it was, she stayed cool and calm.”

The champion freshman filly that year, Indigo Illusion sprinted the distance in :21.26. The filly that season won nine of 13 races while earning $476,890, but was a force to be reckoned with her entire career.

Retired to the broodmare pasture after finishing third in the December 1985 Las Damas Handicap (G1), Indigo Illusion produced 19 foals, 13 of which went to the track. Ten of them returned as winners, including Grade 1 Kansas and Graham Farms futurity winner Magic Dozen by Easy Dozen; Graham Farms Derby (G2) winner Illusive Feature by Truckle Feature; Manor Downs Derby (G2) winner First Place Dash by First Down Dash; and the Streakin Six colt Streakin Sixes, who lit the board in the Grade 1 Heritage Place Futurity and Texas Classic Derby. Indigo Illusion’s babies put $562,510 in the pockets of their connections.

With 17 wins, three seconds and four thirds from 30 career races, Indigo Illusion scored in six stakes, including the Grade 1 Rainbow Derby and Vessels Maturity. She placed second in two others, and was third in four, including the Champion of Champions (G1), where she showed in 1984 and lit the board in 1985. From July 1983 through July 1984, Indigo Illusion came home in front in 13 consecutive races. Setting three track records while recording seven speed indexes in excess of 100 – her best the 110 from the Faberge – the Illusion was no mirage.

“I’ve always thought she knew she was special, but she was not a pet,” Windham said. “Even here at the ranch, she was just like she was when she was racing – she didn’t mind people handling her, but when she was through with you, she just wanted to be left alone.”

Indigo Illusion finished her life still among the top 60 all-time leading earners, just ahead of champions Town Policy, Moon Lark and First Down Dash. She died in November 10, 2007, at age 26.

“I remember her with a lot of pride,” Windham said. “She was awfully special. To us, Indigo was always a champion – every single day.”