First Prize Rose

Career: 1978-1980

Year Inducted: 2012

Breeder Gordon Wilson tapped pedigree lines of Hall of Fame Quarter Horse stars when his broodmare Rose Bug produced a filly by Gallant Jet in February 1976. Greats such as Jet Deck, Lady Bugs Moon, Moon Deck, Leo, Top Moon, FL Lady Bug and Top Deck all are ancestors to First Prize Rose.

On the racetrack, the Oklahoma-bred First Prize Rose finished in-the-money more often than not, competing from ages two to four while winning six of 34 lifetime starts with eight second-place runs and six third-place efforts. Stakes-placed in her career, she would garner her stakes triumphs in the years to come as a foundation broodmare.

Interestingly, the initial two stallions brought to First Prize Rose were Thoroughbreds, producing offspring that won but had non-descript racing careers. When it was time for her third breeding, A.F. “Sonny” Stanley, Jr. and B.F. Phillips, Jr. teamed up to send her to Dash For Cash in 1983. An eventual American Quarter Horse Association Hall of Fame inductee, Dash For Cash won 21 of 25 career races and was the first to win the prestigious Champion of Champions twice, in 1976 & 1977. He was voted the AQHA World Champion in both years. After racing, Dash For Cash became a super-stallion, held in the highest regard in the breeding world.

The pairing of First Prize Rose to her initial Quarter Horse stallion Dash For Cash produced what would become Quarter Horse racing, and breeding, gold. A 1984 sorrel colt named First Down Dash.

First Down Dash was spectacular in his racing career, winning eight stakes events, six of them grade one, including the Champion of Champions at Los Alamitos in California as a 3-year-old in 1987, leading to his honor as World Champion. Retired to stallion duty, First Down Dash would become legendary, evolving into a sire of sires and surpassing many of the all-time stallion records set by his own sire, Dash For Cash. First Down Dash also became a perennial leading broodmare sire. From 20 crops to race, First Down Dash sired 225 stakes winners, 35 champions, and his progeny have earned more than $75 million dollars, easily the highest total of all time. First Down Dash was inducted into the AQHA Hall of Fame in 2011.

After the talent on the track was apparent from First Down Dash, First Prize Rose was hustled back to Dash For Cash by Stanley, and in this case L.D. Burbank, for another attempt at producing a racing great. In 1988, First Prize Dash was foaled and achieved some success in her racing career. She posted five wins from 11 attempts and was fourth in the 1990 Heritage Place Futurity won in an upset by Vital Sign who edged the great Refrigerator by a neck. After racing at age three in 1991, First Prize Dash ended her career on track and would become known for her ability as super-broodmare.

First Prize Dash did not get credit for her first winner until Heza Fast Dash came along to win the 2000 Blue Ribbon Downs Futurity in Sallisaw, Oklahoma and finish second in the Remington Park Futurity. The same year she achieved her first racing winner, First Prize Dash produced a filly named Fast First Prize who would go on to win the 2002 Heritage Place Futurity by nose over Oak Tree Special, the eventual 2003 World Champion.

First Prize Dash was now on her way to broodmare greatness. In 2004, she produced three foals by Mr Jess Perry. The trio would win Grade 1 events or place in them in 2006. Sisters First Prize Robin and First Carolina won the Remington Park Futurity and Heritage Place Futurity, respectively, while their brother First Prize Perry was second in the Texas Classic Futurity at Lone Star Park. The success of the three earned First Prize Dash 2006 AQHA Broodmare of the Year honors.

First Prize Dash went to other top stallions but it wasn’t until going back to Mr Jess Perry that she managed another stakes-winning star in 2007 foal First Prize Leesa. At age two, First Prize Leesa won four of six starts including the Grade 1, 2009 Remington Park Futurity, just as her trainer Heath Taylor predicted she would months before the race.

A legacy of greatness can not exist without the bequest of a wealthy predecessor. The aforementioned trove of Quarter Horse racing greats might never have been revealed had it not been for the gift, and gifts, of First Prize Rose.

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