Marvin and Lela Barnes won’t mind a bit if you call them “buggy.” They’ve been that way since 1958, when they acquired a sorrel mare named FL Lady Bug and launched a Quarter racing dynasty.
The Barnes and FL Lady Bug were inducted into the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Hall of Fame on Saturday, February 14, 2009. FL Lady Bug is also a member of the AQHA Hall of Fame.
Marvin Barnes (pictured as he prepares to lead Mr Master Bug during the 1984 All American Futurity festivities) owned a modest used car business in Ada, OK, when he accepted FL Lady Bug as a $1,000 trade-in. Barnes would buy and sell the mare four times before she became a permanent fixture at his ranch.
It was with her sixth foal, Leo’s Showman, born in 1961, that 16-year-old FL Lady Bug, by Sergeant out of Yeager’s Lady JA, found her niche as a producer of racehorses. But it wasn’t until 1963, after Leo’s Showman earned an AAAT rating, that his dam was finally bred to a top race sire and changed the course of racing history.
Top Ladybug, foaled in 1964, was FL Lady Bug’s first superstar. The Top Deck-sired filly won four stakes races at two and was voted 1966 champion 2-year-old filly. During her four-year career she won 33 out of 100 starts and earned $195,973.
FL Lady Bug’s next foal (1965), Barnes Ladybug, by Mr Bar None, also finished third in the All American Futurity and earned $112,786.
By 1966, not even an exterminator could have stopped the proliferation of “Bugs” at the Barnes’ place. When Marvin realized what a treasure he might have in FL Lady Bug, he sought out and purchased her 1959 and 1961 foals, Lady Lasan, by ranch sire Cowan’s Lasan, and Lady Bug Leo, by Leopie, a cutting horse sire.
Lady Lasan and Lady Bug Leo, bred to Top Moon and Jack’s Jet, respectively, both dropped filly foals in 1966, while their dam, FL Lady Bug, produced a Top Moon colt named Lady Bug’s Moon. Lady Lasan’s filly was named Top Bug; Lady Bug Leo’s filly became Ralph’s Lady Bug (who would produce 1975 All American Futurity winner and sire Bugs Alive In 75).
Lady Bug’s Moon lost the 1968 All American by a head to Three Oh’s, but was followed by Top Bug in third place and Ralph’s Lady Bug in fourth. It was an historic All American Futurity finish, only to be topped in 1982, when Barnes-owned and bred Mr Master Bug and Miss Squaw Hand (each descended from FL Ladybug) finished one-two in the $2.5 million race. The dual entry earned a total of $1,343,500 in just over 22 seconds for Marvin and Lela.
Mr Master Bug, by Master Hand (TB) and out of Flicka Bug, by Lady Bug’s Moon, would earn $1,793,718 before his retirement in August 1984 and is still ranked today as the highest-earning stallion in Quarter racing history.
Lady Bug’s Moon, in the meantime, had become a leading sire of money earners and producing daughters, none more significant than Rose Bug, the dam of First Prize Rose, in turn the dam of all-time leading sire First Down Dash and 2006 Broodmare of the Year First Prize Dash.
First Down Dash has sired earners of $64 million. First Prize Dash is the first mare in Quarter racing history to produce two G1 futurity winners during the same meet – twins First Prize Robin (Remington Park Futurity) and First Carolina (Heritage Place Futurity). Fast First Prize, another First Prize Dash daughter and winner of the Heritage Place Futurity, is the dam of Fast Prize Zoom, who set a new world record for 300 yards in 2008.
Rose Bug is also the great granddam of Blues Girl Too, 2006 Champion 2-Year-Old, 2007 World Champion, and leading earner of $2 million, who carries another line to FL Lady Bug through her sire Corona Cartel, a leading sire of the earners of $26 million.
Phoebe’s Moon Bug, a daughter of Lady Bug’s Moon and a two-time champion, is the granddam of 2008 Champion 3-Year-Old Heartswideopen, earner of $1.7 million.
“Lives have been changed all over the world because of FL Lady Bug,” said Marvin Barnes.
FL Lady Bug died in 1974 at 29. The Barnes, who are in their eighties, are still breeding and racing her descendents, including two 2-year-old fillies, Fly Lela Fly and Fly Like A Bug Fly, who are slated for the trials of the Oklahoma Futurity at Remington Park, on March 6.