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APHA inducts racing legends into the 2013 Hall of Fame

In a formal ceremony at the Westin DFW Hotel on February 23, as part of the American Paint Horse Association’s annual Convention, six Paint Horse racing legends were inducted into the APHA 2013 Hall of Fame.

Breaking fast from the gate and thundering down the track, a fleet-footed horse is vital to success on the racetrack. But equally important are those savvy horsemen who can pick out a diamond in the rough, and those great sires and dams who pass their legacy of speed to the next generation.



Walter Merrick remains a racetrack legend, a horseman with something of a sixth-sense when it came to fast horses. Focusing his attention on the track in 1936, Walter’s stable expanded to include Paints in the 1950s. The recipient of the first Paul Harbor Racing Distinguished Service Award in 2005, Walter still ranks fifth on APHA’s Lifetime Leading Breeders List.

indian-music068Indian Music was one of many top-notch products of Walter’s breeding program, and she proved herself in spades. A broodmare by trade, Indian Music produced 14 foals who impressively earned more than one-hundred-and-two thousand dollars. Among her top foals were World Champion Cherokee Indian and Million Dollar Sire Easy Jet Too.
Having already purchased several horses from Walter Merrick, it was a handshake deal for half-interest in Easy Jet Too that truly launched Virdin Royse into notoriety. Dedicated to helping the Paint racing industry prosper, Virdin developed the Pot-O-Gold Futurity and served on the Racing Committee for 17 years. He was honored with APHA’s Distinguished Service Award in humble appreciation of more than 40 years of association involvement.

skybar-sizedSky Bar, the dam of 10 foals including Sky Top Bar, created a legacy as a top broodmare. Bred by Ralph Gardiner and owned by Paul Harbor, the 1961 chestnut tobiano mare produced 10 foals, including the tobiano stallions Powder Charge, By Jingo, Sky Top Bar and Million Heir. They helped carry the blood of Sky Bar and notable ancestors Babette and Painted Joe into a new generation of Paint performers.

gravesskytopbar-sizedOne of Sky Bar’s most prolific sons was Sky Top Bar, a 1967 bay tobiano bred by Paul Harbor and owned by Ray Graves. Royally bred, “Sky” was a stakes winner but made an even bigger impact as a sire. About half of his foals hit the track, earning nearly two hundred thousand dollars. And more left their mark in the show ring, including Supreme Champion Sky Bug Bingo.

graves600dpi-big-With dreams of becoming a cowboy, Ray Graves was first a roper before the allure of the racetrack caught his attention. A breeder and trainer of several top racehorses, Ray also helped found the Paint Stallion Breeders Association. Always willing to speak his mind, Ray has been a longtime national director and valued member of the Racing Committee since 1968, and he received the Paul Harbor Racing Distinguished Service Award in two thousand and eleven.
Each inductee received a beautiful bronze statue created by sculptor Clay Gant of Cowboy Bronze in Cross Timbers, Missouri.

2013 Hall of Fame inductee video


 [Reprinting all or part of this news release is permitted, so long as credit is given to the Paint Horse Journal and a link provided back to apha.com.]



About APHA

The American Paint Horse Association is the world’s second-largest equine breed association, registering more than a million horses in 59 nations and territories since it was founded. APHA creates and maintains programs that increase the value of American Paint Horses and enriches members’ experiences with their horses.