Year Inducted: 2010
Bud Warren, of Perry, Oklahoma, may have operated a successful dairy business, but his first love was horses. Warren admired the beauty, the versatility and the good disposition of American Quarter Horses but he also admired their defining characteristic—speed. Bud Warren would come to have a dramatic impact on the breed he loved as he would manage two of the most important stallions in history—Leo and Jet Deck.
Warren and his wife Reba were already small scale breeders when they began to see foals of a certain young stallion named Leo. They had seen him win some races and set a track record at Pawhuska. He reportedly won 20 of his 22 career races. However, knee problems bothered Leo and he changed hands numerous times. When the Warrens acquired two daughters of Leo, both turned out to be outstanding runners. Leota W. won the first Oklahoma Futurity and her stablemate Flit was also a top-flight winner on the track. Warren decided to go for the source and he purchased Leo from Gene Moore and Ted Wells for $3,100. Things would never be the same for the Warren family, as before long, Leo became the breed’s most popular stallion. Leo was the sire of racing Champions Palleo Pete, Bobbie Leo, Miss Meyers and Mona Leta. His offspring not only proved to be outstanding performers on the track but also in the show rings and in the rodeo arenas. Although he produced several good stallions, Leo is best remembered as a sire of broodmares. He continued to rank among the top broodmare sires more than 30 years after his death. A lifesize statue of Leo stands in a park named for him in Perry, Oklahoma.
In early 1962 as he visited the stable of his trainer, Wilbur Stuchal, the trainer advised him that another of his clients, J.B. Chambers, had purchased a colt for $6,500 which had been showing lots of talent. When Warren viewed the slender colt, he declared, “If that thing can run, I’ll sell all of mine.” Fortunately, he did not follow up on that declaration, for the colt turned out to be Jet Deck, World Champion Two-Year-Old Colt of 1962 and overall World Champion of 1963. Jet Deck was the first Quarter Horse to surpass the $200,000 mark in earnings and set world and track records while soundly beating all the best horses of his time.
Bud Warren may have been surprised that Jet Deck was such a runner, but he could clearly see that other breeders were going to beat a path to his door when he went to stud. Wisely, he purchased an interest in Jet Deck and the great runner joined 23-year-old Leo in Perry, Oklahoma upon his retirement. Jet Deck proved to be just as dominant a stallion as he was a racehorse. From his first crop onward, sons and daughters of Jet Deck fanned the flames of his popularity. Soon, a virtual caravan of horse trailers carrying the breed’s best mares made its way to Perry annually. Daughters of Leo crossed particularly well with Jet Deck, leading to many more successes for the Warrens, in addition to the revenues they received from his breeding fees of $3,500. Artificial insemination had been approved by the AQHA and a young fertile stallion like Jet Deck could cover 200-plus mares in a given season. In a matter of only a few years, Jet Deck joined Go Man Go as the sport’s leading sires and it was a certainty that his fee would continue to increase. Then tragedy struck.
In late August of 1971, Bud Warren was attending the races in Ruidoso, New Mexico when he received a shocking call from his ranch manager. Someone had murdered Jet Deck by lethal injection. Although the investigation lasted for years, the perpetrators of the crime were never apprehended and it remains an unsolved crime.
Even though his life was cut short and he sired only six crops of foals, Jet Deck had a tremendous impact on the future of the American Quarter Horse. Jet Deck was not only a producer of great runners and outstanding broodmares, he was also a sire of sires. His greatest son, Easy Jet, picked up where Jet Deck left off to become the leading sire of his era. No one will ever know how many more great horses Jet Deck would have sired had he lived out his life normally.
In any case, between the accomplishments of Leo, Jet Deck, Sugar Bars, Croton Oil and many more, Bud Warren is rightly considered one of the pillars of American Quarter Horse racing and breeding.