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Foundation Quarter Horse History

Foundation Quarter Horse - Midnight

Karen Griffith Farms · 34440 State Route 7 · Pomeroy, Ohio  45769
Call: (740) 992-5782 · E-mail: griffith@frognet.net


 Midnight - Foundation Quarter Horse

Midnight (1916 - 1933)

Peter McCue had many grandsons and granddaughters, but none ever did more for the Quarter Horse breed than old Midnight. Midnight's sire, and Peter McCue's son, was Badger. Badger was more famous for his running than for his progeny. It was while he was being handled by two Oklahoma men, Roy Cockran and Reed Armstrong, that he gained his fame. He was kept so busy running that little time was left for siring colts.11 When a stallion is bred very much, he loses his interest in racing. Only two known progeny of Badger were foaled, one being a mare and the other the stallion Midnight.

Midnight got his name because he was so black as a foal. He died almost pure white, as is common for gray horses. As a mature horse he stood 14-2 and weighed 1,150 pounds.

The dam of Midnight was Nellie Trammel.12 She was sired by Pid Hart and had been bred and raced by Thomas Trammel. Trammel, and his partner Newman, of Sweetwater, Texas, were two of the best-known race horse breeders in Texas during their day. In Texas, they occupied a position very similar to that of the Watkinses of Illinois. In fact, the two establishments often bought or exchanged stock. Dan Tucker and Barney Owens, two of Trammel's best short-horses, were obtained from Watkins.

Nellie Trammel was a clubfooted mare, but she could really move on soft ground and was seldom matched unless the ground was soft. She came into the possession of Jess Cooper and was bred to a common horse. She produced such an outstanding foal by this horse that Cooper decided to take her to the best short-horse he knew and give her a chance. He loaded her up and took her to Badger and talked Reed Armstrong into giving him a service.

When Midnight was born, he looked so good that Jess's brother Al bought half-interest in him. Together they broke and trained Midnight for racing. The first race Midnight ran for important money was a match against an imported horse from Cuba. This was in 1920, and each side put up $500. Midnight scampered across the line an easy winner.

When Reed Armstrong heard that the Coopers had a Badger colt out of the clubfoot mare that was running, he thought he would get some of those Cuban pesos. He had a top sprint horse, A. D. Reed, a son of Peter McCue, and he expected no trouble from the iron-gray Midnight. Midnight, however, had other ideas, and he ran away from his uncle, A. D. Reed, and the Coopers had dollars to go with their Cuban pesos.

It was a little rough to match Midnight after a couple of races like this, and the Coopers sold him to Red Whaley. To get a race, Whaley had to approach the best. He challenged the Waggoners, and when he beat the Waggoner horse, the Three D purchased Midnight on the spot. He was then five years old.

He ran for the Waggoner outfit for several years and then was turned out with some mares. Sometime later he was purchased by the JA Ranch, who wanted a little speed with their cow horses. After serving the JA Ranch for several years, he was purchased by Aubray Bowers and taken to his final home. Bowers took good care of the old horse and got several colt crops from him before he died in 1933.

Walter Merrick bought his last horse colt and called him Midnight, Jr. With him he won sixteen straight match races. Midnight, Jr., was out of a Billy the Tough mare.

Old Midnight had his heyday before the formation of the AQHA, but, nevertheless, twenty-three of his get were registered by the association. This indicates the esteem in which Midnight horses were held. Some of the better-known sons of old Midnight were, besides Midnight Jr., Chubby, out of Fourth of July; Rainy Day out of Old Alley; and One Eyed Waggoner, out of a Yellow Wolf mare.

11 According to notes made by Helen Michaelis, Armstrong raced Badger (he called him Grey Badger) successfully until he was about six, and then Armstrong sold him to a farmer who wanted a work horse, and so he was gelded. Denhardt Files, Armstrong Folder.

12 I am inclined to believe the information regarding Midnight's dam much as it was reported by Nelson Nye in "The Story of Midnight," Quarter Horse, March, 1948. Helen Michaelis gave a somewhat different version. Since Helen, Nelson, and I interviewed the same people and came up with different stories, the truth will probably never be known. Helen points out that Walter Merrick wrote to H. S. Bissell that he had heard two conflicting stories about Midnight's dam: (1) T. O. Gouse, of Elk City said he was present when they bred the mare that foaled Midnight. He said she was a cripple-footed mare that was never broken but showed wonderful Quarter Horse conformation. Her breeding was unknown. (2) Another fellow told him Midnight's dam was a big chestnut race mare that ran the Crawford area. She was called the "Negro mare" because she belonged to a Negro. She came from the East and her breeding could not be checked. Denhardt Files, Unregistered Studs, A-J.

This story was taken from the book by Robert Moorman Denhardt - Quarter Horses: A Story of Two Centuries. (For more reading, check out another book by Denhardt - The King Ranch Quarter Horses.)


Karen Griffith Farms · 34440 State Route 7 · Pomeroy, Ohio  45769
Call: (740) 992-5782 · E-mail: griffith@frognet.net
Web site: www.karengriffith.com

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