Breeding for Speed

Guy Ray Rutland and his wife, Mildred, had an eye for breeding versatile horses, the kind of all-around horse that could pull his weight in the ranch country of the West. Courtesy of the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum.
Guy Ray Rutland and his wife, Mildred, had an eye for breeding versatile horses, the kind of all-around horse that could pull his weight in the ranch country of the West. Courtesy of the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum.

Guy Ray Rutland was one of the 10 horses and men to be inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum in March during the Hall of Fame banquet, part of the 2013 AQHA Convention in Houston, Texas.  In the 1960s through the ’80s, the racing of the fastest horses on earth began its transition from a small regional sport into a big national industry. If back then there was one constant, it was that many of those horses who made their way into the winners circle were bred by Guy Ray Rutland and his wife, Mildred.

The Rutlands ranched at Independence, Kansas, and for nine years (1967 and 1970-77) were leading breeder by wins. Their record of eight consecutive wins rivals the mark set by Frank Vessels Sr. in the 1950s and the ’60s and was not broken until 2001 by Dr. Edward C. Allred.

In more than 60 years of breeding American Quarter Horses, Guy Ray and Mildred Rutland bred 48 stakes winners and the race earners of $1,954,309, while Guy Ray in his own name also bred another 13 stakes winners. Among the horses the couple bred were Pacific Bailey, a track-record-setting racehorse who became an AQHA Champion and sired the race earners of more than $2.36 million. In addition to using such sires as Bar Money, Jet Stop and Pacific Bailey’s grandsire Gold King Bailey, the Rutlands used Pacific Bailey to breed Pacific Dan, the 1974 champion racing 3-year-old gelding who set six track records, and Jumbo Pacific, a track-record-setting multiple stakes winner.

The Rutlands were very well-known as breeders of racehorses. But they did not confine themselves to trying only to breed the fastest horses on earth. As one might expect of people who first made their living as ranchers, the Rutlands had the eye and touch for breeding versatile horses, the kind of all-around horse that could pull his weight in the ranch country of the West. They are the all-time 12th leading breeders of AQHA Champions with 15, and Guy alone bred another eight AQHA Champions, putting him in a seven-way tie for 37th on the list. They bred 90 Quarter Horses that stood first in halter classes in AQHA shows, ranking them 26th among breeders of halter class winners, and horses from their program also earned money in National Cutting Horse Association arenas and accolades from groups such as the Palomino Horse Breeders of America. Guy Ray is also in the Kansas Quarter Horse Racing Association and Kansas Quarter Horse Association halls of fame.

Born in Oklahoma on February 1, 1917, Guy Ray married Mildred Evalyn Thomas on October 15, 1938. They raised sons Jeffery Thomas Rutland and Clifford Ray Rutland (who trained Pacific Bailey), both of Independence, and daughter Rebecca Jane Barr-Rutland of Oklahoma City.

As a young man, Guy Ray worked as a short-order cook to earn enough money to start making a living with horses. In 1945, he began raising Quarter Horses and cattle on a ranch at Pawhuska, Oklahoma, before moving to Independence in 1950. Guy Ray improved his horses year by year until Pacific Bailey was born in 1963. He was on his way.

“Some people want to race, some like to rope, others like to cut, but I guess I have that running bug,” Guy Ray said. “I like to raise a good-looking racehorse; I would rather have a good-looking racehorse that was AA-rated than to own a sorry-looking AAA racehorse. So I have always tried to breed for and stay with conformation and looks.”

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