Year Inducted: 2009
Winning the All American Futurity is the lifetime dream of anyone who owns and races American Quarter Horses. Finishing first and second in the race is a feat which has been accomplished only once—by Oklahomans Marvin and Lela Barnes. In 1982, their homebreds Mr. Master Bug and Miss Squaw Hand brought home a combined $1,350,000 for their one-two finish in the Labor Day classic. Jack Brooks trained the pair and Jacky Martin was aboard the winner. Remarkably, both horses trace back to the Barnes’s great broodmare FL Lady Bug.
Few, if any, American Quarter Horse mares have had such a dramatic and long-lasting influence on the breed as has FL Lady Bug. Yet the diminutive mare’s incredible impact on Quarter Horse racing would probably never have been realized had it not been for Marvin and Lela Barnes, who purchased her for $1,000 in 1958. Barnes sold used cars and competed in rodeos and actually had to sell the mare four different times in order to make ends meet. However, each time he bought her back, rightfully believing she would eventually reward his confidence that she possessed the special traits necessary to produce champion racehorses. Although FL Ladybug herself never raced, she formed the cornerstone of one of the greatest racing families of all time.
FL Ladybug’s value as a producer cannot be overstated. Her blood flows through the veins of the majority of the American Quarter Horses racing today. Bred to Leo, she produced stakes winner and sire Leo’s Showman. Bred to Top Deck, she produced World Champion Two-Year-Old Filly Top Ladybug, winner of the Oklahoma Futurity and Rainbow Futurity in 1966. In 1967 her daughter Barnes’ Ladybug finished third in the All American Futurity. In 1968, three of the ten All American Futurity finalists were direct descendants—her son Ladybug’s Moon finished second by a nose while third and fourth-place finishers Top Bug and Ralph’s Ladybug were produced by her daughters. By that time, Marvin and Lela Barnes had established the Ladybug Stallion Station, one of the most successful breeding farms of the era. Ladybug’s Moon excelled as a stallion, siring Bugs Alive in ’75, winner of the 1975 All American Futurity. But it was as a producer of broodmares that Ladybug’s Moon would carry on the FL Ladybug bloodline.
Among the many great broodmares sired by Ladybug’s Moon was Rose Bug, who produced First Prize Rose, who in turn produced First Down Dash, a World Champion on the track and the greatest sire the breed has ever known. His full sister, First Prize Dash, is filling the shoes of her great-grandmother, FL Lady Bug, as she has produced Grade 1 winners First Carolina, First Prize Robin, Fast First Prize and most recently First Prize Leesa, winner of the 2009 $863,000 Remington Park Futurity. In short, tens of millions of dollars have been generated by the mare Marvin and Lela Barnes purchased for $1000.