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Jerry Wells and Impressive Among AQHA Hall of Fame Class of 2022


Induction into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame is the highest industry honor bestowed upon a human or equine. Those chosen for induction are recognized for their lifetime of accomplishments and service. Six horses and seven AQHA members have been chosen for induction into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2022.

The horses are Big Step, a 1956 sorrel stallion; Corona Cartel, a 1994 bay stallion; Easter King, a 1951 sorrel stallion; Impressive, a 1969 sorrel stallion; Sun Frost, a 1979 palomino stallion; and Topsail Whiz, a 1987 chestnut stallion.

The individuals selected are 30-year breeder and horseman John Andreini of San Mateo, California; AQHA Past President Sandra Arledge of Encinitas, California; renowned owner, breeder and trainer James V.A. Carter of Clovis, California; advocate for youth and equestrians with disabilities riders Mary Hopkins of Vicksburg, Mississippi; longtime owners, trainers and exhibitors Walter and Nancy Hughes of Damascus, Maryland; and record-setting world champion Jerry Wells of Norman, Oklahoma.

These deserving recipients will be inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2022.

Big Step, a 1956 sorrel stallion, was bred by Blain Lewis of Patagonia, Arizona, and owned by Don and Virginia Wilcox of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Big Step was by Parker’s Trouble and out of the Charlie Hepler mare Little Bit L. Don Wilcox, a member of the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, bought Big Step in 1962 after a short career on the racetrack and pointed him to a new career as a sire of all-around horses, including point-earners in halter, reining, cutting, roping, racing, barrel racing, western pleasure and western riding. Big Step sired 18 open champions and 10 youth champions. On the track, Big Step sired nine race starters. In the show ring, foals sired by Big Step earned 14,101.5 points in a time when points were hard to come by. Big Step died in 1982.

Corona Cartel was a 1994 bay stallion by Holland Ease and out of Corona Chick by Chicks Beduino. Corona Cartel was bred by Robert Etchandy and owned by the Corona Cartel Syndicate. He earned $577,142 and won three stakes races during his race career, including the Los Alamitos Million Futurity (G1) and Kindergarten Futurity (G2). He finished his race career with six wins and three seconds in 14 starts. At the time of his death, he had 1,862 foals registered from 21 crops, and progeny earnings of more than $62.8 million. He sired 1,069 winners from 1,542 starters, and 179 stakes winners.  Corona Cartel died December 18, 2019.

Easter King, a 1951 sorrel stallion by King and out of Gocha H by Cuate, was bred by Jess Hankins and owned by John Bowling. After a short career as a cutting horse, Easter King excelled as a sire. Offspring of Easter King have earned in excess of $20 million in National Reining Horse, National Cutting Horse and National Reined Cow Horse association competition. The daughters of Easter King have also proven to be great producers with offspring including such great horses as grandson Hollywood Dun It, who was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2012. Easter King died in 1981.

Impressive, who was bred by Perry Cotton of Pleasanton, California, and owned by Maurine Faulkner from Pass Christian, Mississippi, was known as a leading halter sire and world champion aged stallion. The 1969 sorrel stallion was by Lucky Bar 54 and out of the Lightning Bar mare Glamour Bars. In 1974, Impressive was the AQHA world champion aged stallion at the first AQHA World Championship Show. During his show career, Impressive earned 48 points and 20 grand championships. He sired 2,251 foals from 24 crops, and they earned 19,249 halter points and 5,628.5 performance points. He sired 23 open world champions, two amateur world champions and four youth world champions that won a total of 38 world championships. He sired 25 reserve world champions that won 28 reserve world championships. He died in 1995 at age 26.

Sun Frost, bred by Stanley Johnston and owned by Cowan Brothers LLC, would show considerable promise as a young cutter, but even greater promise as a sire. The 1979 palomino stallion was by Doc’s Jack Frost and out of the Driftwood Ike mare Prissy Cline. Sun Frost became the head of a broodmare band rich in the blood of the Stanley Johnston-bred horses. By the mid-1990s, Sun Frost was one of the North Country’s most celebrated sires, thanks to his progeny French Flash Hawk and Frenchmans Guy.  Sun Frost sired the earners of more than $2.2 million and is the grandsire of the earners of more than $14 million in barrel racing, roping, cutting and reining. Sun Frost died in 2007.

Topsail Whiz, by Topsail Cody and out of the Cee Red mare Jeanie Whiz Bar, descended from a lineage of sires that greatly impacted the sport of reining. Bred by Tom and Susan McBeath and owned by Bob Loomis, the 1987 chestnut stallion boasted nearly $50,000 in National Reining Horse Association lifetime earnings. The stallion’s top finishes in the show pen included third place in the 1990 NRHA Open Futurity, fourth place in the 1991 NRHA Level 4 Open Derby and the champion title of the 1991 NRHA Level 4 Open Lazy E Classic. In 2018, Topsail Whiz became the first NRHA $12 Million Sire and was the AQHA leading reining sire from 2002 to 2009. The stallion also continues to impact the sport as the sire of broodmares, having sired the mothers of performers with more than $6 million in earnings. Topsail Whiz, who was inducted into the NRHA Hall of Fame in 2002, died in 2009.

AQHA 30-year breeder, horseman and AQHA Director Emeritus John Andreini became involved in the horse industry in 1965 when he was invited to a trail ride. In his own name, Andreini raced the earners of more than $2.1 million, plus more in partnership, including champion Jumping Tac Flash ($147,065). He bred the earners of more than $6.9 million, including, among others, top runners like Volcom ($430,433) and Deefirst ($319,029) and AQHA Dam of Distinction Jusjumpin. Andreini was the founder, chairman and CEO of Andreini & Co., an insurance brokerage he established in 1951. He served the racing industry in many capacities, including as a leader in the Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Racing Association and a partner in entities such as the Los Alamitos Equine Sale and Ruidoso Downs. After his death in 2018, a special racing recognition award, the John Andreini Special Recognition Award, was renamed in his honor.

AQHA Past President Sandra Arledge of Encinitas, California, has a long history with horses. From serving as an AQHA director since 1997 and elevated to director emeritus in 2011, to owning and operating Sandy Arledge Quarter Horses, her commitment to the American Quarter Horse is evident across her career. She has served on the membership, shows and professional horsemen, judges, stud book and registration, and Hall of Fame selection committees. Arledge also served on the nominations and credentials committee and served as the committee’s chairwoman in 2010. She has bred and trained numerous AQHA world champions and reserve world champions, in addition to being named the 2010 AQHA Professional Horsewoman of the Year. She was inducted into the Pacific Quarter Horse Association Hall of Fame in 2015. Arledge was elected to the AQHA Executive Committee in 2011 and served as the Association’s president in 2016.

James V.A. Carter spent the 1940s on a ranch in Shaville, Oregon, near the Idaho border. He bred Moon Deck to his band of Barred and Midnight Jr mares to create horses that could run faster and further, including Top Moon. He eventually left the cattle business to focus on raising fast horses. He then moved to Clovis, California, and was a leading trainer on California tracks while running only horses he bred and raised. Many of Carter’s horses are still found in racing pedigrees today, including 2008 champion racing 3-year-old Heartswideopen who traces through her dam, Dashing Phoebe, to Top Moon.

AQHA judge, trainer and advocate for youth and equestrians with disabilities riders, Mary Hopkins, better known as “Miss Mary,” is best known for her service, philanthropy and charitable efforts. She was Mississippi’s first youth adviser, taking youth to the first AQHJA World Championship Show in Amarillo and has volunteered with the Dixie National Livestock Show and Rodeo as manager and show secretary. She became a judge in 1975 and judged many prestigious shows, including the International Summer Special Olympics in 1991 and 1995. Hopkins has been called the “First Horse Lady of Mississippi” and in 2015 helped guide the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Dixie National.

Trainer and judge Walter T. Hughes and wife Nancy of Damascus, Maryland, saw themselves as ambassadors for AQHA and for the American Quarter Horse breed. Walter served as an AQHA director from 1971 until 1995, serving on the youth, membership, Hall of Fame and judges committees. He also served as chairman of the AQHA Judges Committee. Nancy served on the American Quarter Horse Foundation Committee and Council for many years. Through their travels, they served as exemplary AQHA ambassadors and assisted in the development of international growth and awareness of the American Quarter Horse and were recognized as lifetime achievement recipients from the AQHA Professional Horsemen’s council. As breeders, they were accredited with Skips Dilly and Brio.

All-around hand and competitor Jerry Wells was born in Sulphur, Oklahoma, where in his early teens he discovered a knack for handling horses. By the late 1970s and early 1980s, his farm was breeding 750 mares a year, and he and his wife, Betty, were among the nation’s elite owners, trainers and exhibitors. In AQHA competition, Wells won 61 world championships, one of them in tie-down roping, a record that stood for many years. He showed Kid Meyers to AQHA’s first open Supreme Champion title. Wells was a 20-year breeder. Horses bred in his own name earned 1,523 points and three reserve world championships. As an exhibitor, Wells earned 2,148 points in halter and 130 points in tie-down roping.

About the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame

The American Quarter Horse Foundation connects people and horses through charitable giving in order to develop and support programs or initiatives that preserve our horse’s legacy and further the overall well-being of the American Quarter Horse and the people who comprise the Quarter Horse family.

The American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum fulfills the Foundation’s mission by beautifully showcasing the hundreds of horses and people who have earned the distinction of becoming part of the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame. Inductees of the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame are reviewed and recommended by the Hall of Fame Committee to the American Quarter Horse Foundation Board of Trustees.  Inductees are honored at the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum Induction 

Celebration and their stories and artifacts are featured in the Hall of Fame located in Amarillo, TX and on the museum’s website.  For more information on the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum, visit www.aqha.com/museum.

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