First Down Dash is Going into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame

December 20, 2010

Racing champion and all-time leading racehorse sire First Down Dash is joining the next class of inductees into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame.

Each Hall of Fame class is selected by the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame Selection Committee at a July meeting and, following approval by the AQHA Executive Committee, is honored at the following convention. At the 2011 AQHA Convention on March 4-7 in Grapevine, Texas, the following people and horses will be inducted: Mr San Peppy, Skipper W and Streakin Six, as well as Douglas and Nancy Dear, Joe Kirk Fulton and Frank Howell.

“With the untimely passing of First Down Dash in late November, the committees decided to induct him into the Hall of Fame at the 2011 convention,” said AQHA Executive Vice President Don Treadway Jr. “This is only the fourth time that the committee has added a horse to a class of inductees between (the committee’s) meetings.”

The other additions to past Hall of Fame classes were done following the deaths of prominent American Quarter Horses Dash For Cash (First Down Dash’s sire), Refrigerator and Rugged Lark.

American Quarter Horse racing’s most prolific stallion, First Down Dash, died at age 26 on Thanksgiving Day, November 25, at Vessels Stallion Farm in Bonsall, California.

“He laid down and went to sleep peacefully. He was missing Scoop and his sunflower seeds,” said Bonnie Vessels, referring to her husband, Frank “Scoop” Vessels III, who was killed in a private-plane crash in August.

Dr. Ed Allred, the sport’s all-time leading breeder, released the following statement: “First Down Dash is unquestionably the greatest stallion of all time. No horse has had the influence of the great First Down Dash. He was an amazing horse. He was a sire of sires. What an incredible and great career … he was in one word ‘amazing.’ ”

Bred by A.F. Stanley Jr. and B.F. Phillips Jr. out of the Gallant Jet mare First Prize Rose, First Down Dash continued the legacy at stud that started with his own sire, Dash For Cash. First Down Dash went on to surpass many of the all-time records set by Dash For Cash.

From 20 crops to race, First Down Dash has sired 1,165 winners, which includes 225 stakes winners. His progeny earnings already are more than $74.3 million, easily the highest total of all time. Among his offspring are 35 champions, including Down With Debt, Dashing Folly, Ocean Runaway, Corona Cash, Corona Kool, Wave Carver, FDD Dynasty, A Ransom, A Classic Dash, Dash Thru Traffic and Royal Quick Dash.

For most of 2010, First Down Dash was on top of the leading sires of money earners list, and he currently is ranked No. 2 with $4.2 million. He is the only stallion with eight horses that have earned more than $100,000 each and the only stallion with five horses that have earned more than $200,000 each.

First Down Dash’s best year on the tracks was 2006 when his runners included 16 stakes winners and earners of $6,560,242. The 2006 runners were headlined by No Secrets Here, the Vessels-bred runner who was the stallion’s sixth All American Futurity (G1) winner; Ed Burke Million Futurity (G1) winner FDD Dynasty; and Champion of Champions (G1) winner Wave Carver.

First Down Dash is the sire of a record six All American Futurity (G1) winners – Royal Quick Dash, Dash Thru Traffic, A Classic Dash, Corona Cash, Falling In Loveagain and No Secrets Here – and a record six Champion of Champions (G1) winners – Wave Carver, Ocean Runaway, Cash For Kas, The Down Side, A Ransom and Dashing Folly. In addition to being a top sire of sires, First Down Dash is also a perennial leading broodmare sire.

On the racetrack, First Down Dash won 13 of 15 career starts and earned $857,256. As a 2-year-old, he won the Grade 1 Kindergarten and Dash For Cash futurities. Then as a 3-year-old in 1987, he had a near-perfect campaign with six stakes victories, including the Grade 1 Los Alamitos and Dash For Cash derbies and the Champion of Champions. He was that year’s AQHA world champion.

The American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame was established to preserve and interpret the history and modern uses of the American Quarter Horse and cultivate future enthusiasts. It is housed in Amarillo, Texas, under the governance of the American Quarter Horse Foundation.

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