2018 Hall of Fame Inductees Announced

Five horses and six AQHA members have been selected for induction into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2018.

American Quarter Horse Association

For more information on the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum, visit www.aqha.com/museum.

Induction into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame is the highest honor that can be bestowed by the American Quarter Horse Association. Those chosen for induction are recognized for their lifetime of accomplishments and service. 

The horses in the Class of 2018 are Maroon (TB), Otoe, Runaway Winner, Smart Chic Olena and The Ole Man.

The four men and two women who will join the Hall of Fame are Abigail Kawananakoa of Nuevo, California; Dr. Tom Lenz of Louisburg, Kansas; the late AQHA Past President Gene Graves of Grand Island, Nebraska; Georga and the late Raymond Sutton of Gettysburg, South Dakota; and the late Robert Sutherland of Kansas City, Missouri.

The Thoroughbred mare Maroon was foaled in 1949 without many expectations, the result of a free breeding to a difficult mare. After an unpromising start to her own racing career – she flipped over in the gate in her first official start and injured her back – she recovered to start winning against such noted horses as Brigand, Johnny Dial, AQHA Hall of Fame horses Black Easter Bunny and Miss Meyers. She raced 52 times officially and produced 13 foals. Six generations later, her offspring are still winning. The hard-starting mare had founded a dynasty for her owners and American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame members R.C. “Punch” and Suzanne Jones of Tatum, New Mexico. Maroon died in 1977. 

In 1961, the yearling stallion Otoe sold for $20,000 – about double the cost of a new house – to Donald Ranch of El Paso, Texas. As a 2-year-old, Otoe delivered on the promise of his Sugar Bars bloodlines, winning five times in 13 race starts as a 2-year-old. He was shown at halter 23 times, winning grand champion 20 times and becoming an AQHA Champion in 1962. He was retired to the breeding shed, and in 1964, his first foal crop hit the ground. His foals won in the show ring and on the racetrack. Otoe is among the leading sires of open AQHA Champions. He colicked and died in 1971.

In 1987, Runaway Winner lived up to his name. The 1985 gray stallion by Bediuno (TB) earned $369,410 and set a top speed index of 104 before retiring due to a chipped knee. It was in the breeding shed where Runaway Winner really hit his stride for owner and AQHA Past President Jerry Windham of College Station, Texas. Runaway Winner sired the winners of $13.7 million, including two champions in his first two foal crops. He became known as a sire of broodmares and a sire of sires. He was euthanized in 2015. 

The versatile Smart Chic Olena competed at high levels in two difficult disciplines, and he sired foals just like him. Smart Chic Olena was the 1990 AQHA world champion in senior cutting and the 1993 world champion in senior reining, the only horse in AQHA history to do so. After retirement to the breeding shed, the 1985 sorrel stallion by Smart Little Lena and out of Gay Sugar Chic by Gay Bar King proved he was a sire to be reckoned with. His foals have earned more than $12 million in cutting, reining and reined cow horse competition. Last owned by Trevor and Tiffiny Bond of Mound Valley, Kansas, Smart Chic Olena was euthanized in 2012. 

From birth, The Ole Man was destined for the racetrack. The 1963 sorrel stallion was foaled after the death of his breeder, Frank Vessels Sr. of Los Alamitos, California, and he was named The Ole Man in Vessels’ honor. The son of American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame members Three Bars (TB) and Chicado V collected $21,156 on the racetrack in 1965-66. Race career finished, The Ole Man sired horses that were conformation and racing winners. His daughters produced more winners. The Ole Man died in 1995 and is buried at the farm of his last owner of record, Roy Browning of Shawnee, Oklahoma. 

The late Gene Graves thought of himself as being in service to the members, making sure members received full value from their AQHA memberships. Graves was elected to the AQHA Board of Directors in 2000, serving on task forces and committees before being elected to the AQHA Executive Committee. Graves served as AQHA president in 2012-13. Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer prior to serving as AQHA president, Gene’s goal was to serve AQHA to the best of his ability. He died June 14, 2013, just three months after successfully completing his presidential term.

Racehorse breeder and owner Abigail Kawananakoa became involved in American Quarter Horse racing in the 1970s, and her horses dominated the tracks in the early 1990s. Her mare Florentine was broodmare of the year in 1996, the same year “Miss Abigail” was champion owner, starting horses at 12 tracks in nine states and one Canadian province, winning 38 races in 153 starts. In 1993, A Classic Dash won the All American Futurity for Kawananakoa. To date, foals bred by Kawananakoa have won $9.89 million on the track. The 30-year breeder has produced four world champions that have won five world championships.

Dr. Tom Lenz, a veterinarian and a past president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, has spent his life speaking out for equine welfare. After time in the U.S. Army, he earned his DVM in 1975 from the University of Missouri before beginning private practice. Dr. Lenz has been an AQHA honorary vice president since 2009, serving on AQHA committees, as well as the AQHA Equine Welfare Commission. Dr. Lenz is a member of the American Horse Council, serving on the welfare committee and also serves on the board of directors for the Unwanted Horse Coalition. He received the AAEP distinguished service award in 2005. He recently retired from Zoetis. Dr. Lenz also writes the monthly Horse Health column for The American Quarter Horse Journal. 

Georga and Raymond Sutton have been breeding American Quarter Horses in South Dakota since the 1960s, earning the AQHA Legacy Award – given for 50 consecutive years of breeding – in 2001. Raymond was an international judge and a national director from 1985 until his death in 2005. Georga was elected an AQHA director in 2005, serving on the international and Hall of Fame selection committees. She was named an honorary vice president in 2013. The Suttons also worked actively in the South Dakota Quarter Horse Association. The Suttons’ annual horse production sale is thought to be the oldest consecutive sale in the world, with 2016 marking the sale’s 65th anniversary. 

The late Robert Sutherland’s goal was to make good horses available to everyone. The 40-year breeder of American Quarter Horses started the RS Bar Ranch in suburban Kansas City with the intention of breeding the best to the best. Sutherland helped found the Missouri Quarter Horse Association and served several terms as president. He helped arrange for American Quarter Horses to be part of the prestigious American Royal Horse Show in Kansas City, where he was chairman of the horse show for 10 years. Sutherland donated 25 horses each to the colleges of agriculture at Kansas State University and the University of Missouri. Both colleges are still breeding American Quarter Horses. His bust stands in the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum as a founder of the museum. 

About the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame
The American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum beautifully showcases the dozens of horses and people who have earned the distinction of becoming part of the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame. To be a part of the Hall of Fame, horses and people must have been outstanding over a period of years in a variety of categories. Inductees are those who have brought exceptional visibility and/or contribution to the American Quarter Horse. Hall of Fame inductees are chosen each year by a selection committee and honored at the annual AQHA convention.

For more information on the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum, visit www.aqha.com/museum.

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