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Three Bars (TB) was definitely a legend. Certainly an enigma. He was praised on one hand by those who swore by his breeding, criticized on the other by those who swore at it.
For the first few years of his life, his flaws seemed to far outweigh his apparently few redeeming qualities. Though he would become a stakes-winning racehorse and the most sought-after sire of his time, one early owner was so little pleased that he actually gave the colt away.
But that was still in the future. During the 1930s, James W. Parrish had nearly 30 Thoroughbreds on his farm near Midway, a little town about 15 miles west of Lexington, Kentucky. A banker and fancier of running horses, Parrish's herd included two stallions - Rolled Stocking (TB) and Percentage (TB) - a dozen-odd broodmares and a number of horses in various stages of training.
Read the full story of Three Bars and his most-famous progeny in the detailed report, The Three Bars (TB) Bloodline.
Of the two stallions, Parrish particularly liked Percentage, a tall, sleek 16-year-old who had won 19 races, including several stakes and handicaps, and $42,187. In 1939, Parrish bred Percentage to several of his mares, one of whom was the fleet-footed Myrtle Dee, who held the track record for 5 1/2 furlongs at the old Coney Island Track in Cincinnati.
Parrish, never to see the fruit of that cross, died that fall. His widow, in the course of settling his estate, dispersed the herd the following spring. About two weeks before the sale, Jack Goode, Ned Brent and Bill Talbot offered to buy Myrtle Dee and two other mares in an $800 package deal.
Mrs. Parrish sold them the mares, and several days later, on April 8, 1940, Myrtle Dee foaled her colt. They named him Three Bars in hopes that he'd pay off like a slot machine. In due time, Goode put the young chestnut stallion in training.
"The colt obviously had some speed," Goode said in the September 1957 issue of The Quarter Horse Journal, "but whenever he turned it on, he would come back to the barn with the muscle of a hind leg restricted, and the flesh feeling cold, as if the circulation were cut off. I tried everything, but couldn't overcome the difficulty. We finally sold him to Beckham Stivers for $300, to be paid if Three Bars ever won."
Find out how Three Bars turned a rocky start into a legendary career as a sire. Get AQHA's Three Bars (TB) Bloodline e-book.