Where would Quarter Horse breeding be without this racing world champion? Did you know that one of the most famous Quarter Horses of all time almost wasn’t registered? Yes, American Quarter Horse Hall of Famer Go Man Go, three-time world champion Quarter running horse and sire of foals that earned more than $7.5 million on the racetrack, almost didn’t get a permanent registration number.
Foaled in 1953 by the Thoroughbred Top Deck and out of a half Thoroughbred-half Quarter Horse mare called Lightfoot Sis, Go Man Go came along at a time when there were two very distinct factions involved in the governance of AQHA – those who wanted to stick with the bulldog conformation on which the Association had been founded, and those – primarily individuals in the racing industry – who wanted to allow horses that had some Thoroughbred in their breeding.
Go Man Go received an Appendix registration number through a special rule in place at the time that allowed a foal of a Thoroughbred stallion and an Appendix mare to be registered in the Appendix registry. Those foals could, therefore, race and show in AQHA-approved contests but could not be used for breeding. Horses could advance out of the Appendix to a Tentative registration, and from Tentative to Permanent. Foals from both Tentative- and Permanent-registered horses were eligible for full registration.
Go Man Go went to the track for owner and breeder Johnny Ferguson of Texas and had an amazing freshman year, finishing the season as the 1955 world champion. When Ferguson sold him to A.B. Green of Oklahoma, Green immediately started petitioning for the horse’s advancement to the Tentative registry.
To advance out of the Appendix, a horse must have earned a Register of Merit and then be inspected for Quarter Horse conformation. Go Man Go obviously had the Register of Merit, but the inspector didn’t even hesitate on turning him down on the conformation clause. He was three-quarters Thoroughbred and looked it.
In 1956, Go Man Go was again burning up the tracks, and his exploits had created a tremendous public interest in Quarter Horse racing. Green again petitioned for Go Man Go’s advancement, and the dilemma facing the Association’s Executive Committee was whether to advance him and reap the benefits of all the positive public relations he had generated or stand firm and repudiate him on the grounds of his Thoroughbred conformation.
In October 1956, the Executive Committee, during a meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico, went as a group to the track to look at the horse but again decided not to advance him. Then Go Man Go ended 1956 as the world champion – the second year in a row.
At the 1957 AQHA Convention, Green appealed to the AQHA Board of Directors, which passed a motion to send an inspector to again look at the horse. In April, the Executive Committee heard from the inspector. He said that there was no way he could recommend advancing the horse to Tentative based on his conformation. The Executive Committee members said they would wait and see what Go Man Go’s first crop looked like. Go Man Go ended that year as the 1957 world champion, his third consecutive world championship. The Go Man Go case came up three times the following year, and finally the Executive Committee granted his advancement to the Tentative registry based on the inspection of his first foals.
But what if he had never been advanced? Best I can tell, Go Man Go is in the pedigree of more than 23 world champion running horses. No wonder he’s in the Hall of Fame.
Photo: American Quarter Horse Hall of Famer Go Man Go became a world champion three times before he was given a permanent registration number. AQHA file photo.