Year Inducted: 2018
Known by virtually everyone associated with American Quarter Horse Association racing, not only in the United States but around the globe, Butch Wise has made a tremendous career of finding talented fast horses, and connecting them with owners aspiring to have the next racing champion.
F.E. “Butch” Wise was born in Heavener, Oklahoma in 1950. He was around horses from a very early age as his father was a calf-roper who also ran cattle and always had a couple of good horses to match-race. Many times, young Butch was called on to pilot these horses as he could make the light weight needed to ride, and his dad needed a rider he could trust.
Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw, Oklahoma was not far from the Wise residence. Butch would frequent the track as it was becoming a hotbed for fast horses. Being around such towering figures in the sport as Bud Warren, Bill Hedge, Jesse Powell, Paul Walters, Jim Jay and others, Butch caught the racing bug and chose a career path that focused on running Quarter Horses.
After High School, Butch graduated from Oklahoma State University with a degree in Animal Science. His first job out of college was working for Oklahoma Quarter Horse Association Hall of Fame member Melvin Hatley. The Hatley farm in Lexington, Oklahoma featured stallion Mr Jet Moore, the first winner of the Champion of Champions, as well as Triple Chick.
When a tornado damaged the farm, the stallions were moved to another ranch while the one in Lexington was under repair. Butch was looking for work when Audie Rackley, the editor of the Quarter Horse Journal, called and offered him a job. The Journal had an advertising staff that also doubled as ring men at horse sales all over the United States. This experience provided Butch with tremendous knowledge as he formed lifelong friendships while meeting many of the great breeders in the Quarter Horse world.
In 1978, Butch moved to El Reno, Oklahoma and hung out his shingle as a bloodstock agent, forming Wise Sales Company and Stone Chase Stables. In the next few years, the innovative Heritage Place Sales Company in Oklahoma City was developed. Butch began representing all classes of horses at auction for his clients. By chance, he met a cowboy from Chicago named Bill Witman. They formed the partnership of Ridgeleigh Farms in Purcell, Okla. Together they topped the yearling sales at all of the major sales, doing so multiple times.
During this time, Butch also found and was the agent who sold legendary All American Futurity winner and eventual AQHA Hall of Fame horse Refrigerator to AQHA Past-President James Helzer.
In 1993 Butch and Bill were offered, and accepted, the opportunity to run the Lazy E ranch in Guthrie, Oklahoma. At the Lazy E, they raised and sold three, one-million dollar plus yearlings, at the prestigious Keeneland Yearling Sale in Kentucky. Their partnership continued for many years until Bill moved to the Blue Grass State.
The Lazy E Ranch continues to be known for their premiere stallion lineup. None is known more than Corona Cartel, a horse Butch saw race in California and New Mexico and then convinced his owner that Oklahoma was the place to stand him for his career at stud. The progeny of Corona Cartel have earned over $40 million and he is the Leading Living Sire of Stakes winners.
Butch also put together a syndicate to purchase Teller Cartel as a yearling. The next year, Teller Cartel won the All American Futurity and was named AQHA Champion 2-year-old. He now stands at the Lazy E Ranch.
In a six-year stretch from 1989-1994, Butch was the agent for five winners of the All American Futurity. He has now been associated with seven winners of the sport’s top race overall. The creation of stallion syndications and overseeing their stud careers is a skill where Butch Wise has few peers.
Butch Wise was a director of the AQHA from 2001-2015, becoming an honorary AQHA vice president in 2015. He currently serves on the AQHA Racing Council as the Executive Committee representative. He served as chairman of the AQHA Hall of Fame selection committee from 2013-2015. In 2004, Wise received the Oklahoma State University Animal Science School Graduate of Distinction Award from his alma mater. In 2007 he received the AQHA Racing Council Special Recognition Award.
Butch has also promoted the American Quarter Horse as an ambassador in all parts of the world including Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Australia and China.
Butch still serves as the manager of the Lazy E Ranch. He wife Nancy have two sons, Clay and Parker, and two daughters Mallory and Ashlie Blair. They are also grandparents to Derek and Lacie Blair.