Beduino, The Mystery Horse From Mexico
Five years ago, a big gray Thoroughbred stallion arrived at the Vessels Ranch from deep in the heart of Mexico.
He was big – muscular for a Thoroughbred – but well-balanced fore and aft.
He stood with a commanding presence, a calm, almost arrogant air.
His name was Beduino and probably because he was a mystery horse from Mexico, rumors began to fly around the Los Alamitos Race Track stable area that this was an unbeatable horse.
Or, rumors had it, that Beduino was at least a horse who had yet to be beaten either on the race track or in match races in the bush.
They said he had won over a million dollars for his owner, Justo Fernandez, who had bet as much as $100,000 on him.
They said Beduino was a Thoroughbred who had beaten top Quarter Horses in match races at 440 yards – a distance no Thoroughbred should beat any racing Quarter Horse.
On and on went the rumors. Justo Fernandez had brought the horse north from Mexico City for a match race with Charger Bar, that great filly who at the time was the best Quarter Horse running and destined to be ranked among the all-time greats.
At the time, Charger Bar had won 14 straight races.
That race never came off. The Vessels Stallion Farm bought half interest in Beduino for $250,000. A picture of Beduino was hung in the reception room of the general offices of Los Alamitos Race Track.
It hung on the wall behind the switchboard and even in that position, dominated the room.
Talk and rumors of Beduino gradually faded.
Then a year ago, his first crop hit the race track. Among that crop was What A Woman, whose dam was Whataway To Go by Go Man Go.
In her maiden race, What A Woman went to her knees as she broke from the gate, but got up to win against some blue bloods – Proud Heritage, daughter of Ettabo and Charger Bar, and Cherished Lady, a daughter of Easy Jet.
She used to run like a goose, belly low to the ground, but she’s gotten out of that habit and her lifetime record is now 23 stars, five wins, eight seconds, and three thirds. She has earned $88,072 and has been third in the La Primera Del Ano Derby and the Fresno Futurity, and second in the Vandy’s Flash, Juvenile Invitation, and Kindergarten Consolation.
Beduino’s second crop came to the track this year, led by Fishers Favorite, whose dam was Ought To Go. Another Go Man Go daughter as was the dam of What A Woman.
Thus far, Fishers Favorite has won three of her seven starts, been second twice and third once. She has earned $111,937. She won the Kindergarten Consolation and was the fastest qualifier for the $750,000 Skoal Dash For Cash Futurity.
In the finals of that rich event, she went off the even money favorite but placed second to Easy Angel. She was not shipped to Ruidoso for the All American Futurity.
Interest in Beduino obviously was rekindled. It was time to separate fact from fiction, to turn rumors into truth and to discover how much about this stallion was merely fantasy. Was he truly a legend?
Frank Vessels III, better known as Scoop around the racetrack and grandson of the founder of Los Alamitos Race Track, had probed and separated fact from fantasy.
He said, “I’ve become a close friend with Justo Fernandez and learned a lot about Beduino. Justo is a businessman in Mexico City. He breeds and races horses and owns the Hipodromo de las Americas – a beautiful race track in Mexico City, as well as the new border city track at Nuevo Laredo.
“Justo is a gentleman. He will bet almost anything on one of his horses in a match race. He’s been on the Mexican national trap shooting team, has been on the equestrian team, and goes around with a Colt .45 automatic piston stuck in his belt.”
Young Vessels went on, “Most of the rumors we’ve been hearing about Beduino are true. His name means Bedouin. The name possibly comes from his gray coloring which is similar to the Arabian breed of horses.”
Beduino’s blood lines go back to Man O’War and even further back to Domino, a speed horse racing at the turn of the century.
A 1974 letter to the Vessels from Leon Rasmussen, breeding expert of the Daily Racing Form, said Rasmussen believed Beduino’s great early speed came from the Domino line, which enters Beduino’s heritage six or seven times.
Beduino’s great grandfather is Nasrullah and his grandfather is Rejected, who won both the Santa Anita Handicap and the Hollywood Gold Cup. Rasmussen wrote further that the gray coloring comes from another grandfather, Grey Sovereign, and father Romany Royal.
Beduino is now nine years old and Fernandez won him as a yearling in a match race. Fernandez had wanted to race against a particular horse. The owner didn’t want to bet money, so Fernandez offered to bet his horse against a gray yearling owned by the other man. The bet was accepted, Fernandez won the bet, and Beduino was his.
Vessels continued the story.
Beduino ran 13 short Thoroughbred races and then Fernandez started matching him against Quarter Horses in shorter distances run in a straightaway.
Beduino whipped all comers in Mexico, and then a match race was arranged with the Quarter Horse Champion Come Six in Mexico.
Fernandez got the long end of 2-1 odds.
According to Come Six jockey Luke Myles, “We had a half-length lead or more coming out of the gate and led all the way until the last two jumps. Then this gray blur shot past me.”
So, as the rumor said, he had beaten at least one top Quarter Horse in a match race.
Vessels said, “I think he lost only one match race against a Quarter Horse and that may have been to set up a future bet.”
The Vessels family entered the Beduino story during a convention of the American Quarter Horse Association in Mexico City
Scoop Vessels recalled, “My dad (the late Frank Vessels Jr.) told me that this Mexican man kept bugging him to come see his horse. You know, we’ve always had all kinds of horses and the last thing my dad wanted to see was another horse.
“But, the man kept bugging him and finally my dad gave in.”
Scoop continued, “When he came back to Los Alamitos from Mexico City, my dad said to me – and he was very excited – ‘Scoop, I just saw the best looking horse I’ve ever laid eyes on.’
“And,” said Scoop, “you know he’s seen a lot of great looking horses.”
Eventually, by long distance, a match race was arranged between Beduino and Charger Bar, then the reigning Quarter Horse Champion. Fernandez shipped Beduino north to Los Alamitos and the Vessels Ranch, hard by the race track.
The story is that the bet began at $50,000 and then went to $100,000. Then, Vessels said, Fernandez wanted to bet ‘My horse for yours’ with Charger Bar owner Ed Allred. But the race never came off.
It is known that in an exhibition at Los Alamitos, Beduino barely beat a fair Quarter Horse named Chic Pat Go, a runner not as good as Charger Bar.
Had the race come off horse for horse, it probably would have been a $500,000 bet for a total of $1 million worth of horse flesh.
For, when the Vessels Stallion Farm bought half interest in Beduino for $250,000, that established his market value at $500,000.
And Charger Bar had races worth $200,000 to run at before she went to breeding. She’d already won $450,000. Further, a straight-legged yearling out of Charger Bar would probably bring $100,000 at auction. And, she could drop one foal a year.
It is interesting that Beduino’s daughter, What A Woman, beat Charger Bar’s first foal, Proud Heritage by Ettabo, in their maiden race.
For looks, Beduino is a handsome, studly brute with a royal air about him. He stands 16 hands 1 inch, and is so strongly built fore and aft that though a Thoroughbred, he resembles a tall Quarter Horse, or “a gray Secretariat,” said Scoop.
Gene Chambless, that noted Oklahoma horseman and Western gentleman who first came to California as a trainer of Rebel Cause for Dale Robertson, is now farm manager of the Vessels Stallion Farm.
He said Beduino has sired other winners besides What A Woman and Fishers Favorite. Bedawee, out of Ought To Go, has won three races, and Bedawin, out of Dupe’s Doing, has won five.
Chambless said, “Beduino is beginning to make his mark as a stallion. So far, he seems to cross well with Go Man Go mares.
“He was booked to 57 mares in the 1979 season and we have a full book for him in 1980. The fee is $2,500 and we’ll keep it there, at least for a while. We want his get to be racing so he can prove himself.”
Chambless continued, “His foals tend to be gray or roan. What A Woman is a gray and Fishers Favorite is a roan.”
Of course, their grandfather, Go Man Go, was a roan, reddish coloring with gray flecks.
The picture of Beduino no longer dominates the reception room at Los Alamitos Race Track.
Millie Vessels, president of Los Alamitos Race Course and also owner of the adjacent Los Alamitos Country Club, said, “Before the last meeting, we redecorated. I had a picture which used to hang in the board room moved to the reception room and Beduino’s picture now hangs behind the bar at the country club.”
The coffee shop and golf course is a favorite hangout for the golfers among the trainers, jockeys and agents after their morning chores are finished.
Undoubtedly they add to the legend of Beduino when a golfer comes in, is drawn to the picture behind the bar and asks, “What a magnificent animal, who is it?”
Beduino went on to become the sire of six Champions in Brigand Silk, Chingaderos, Femmes Frolic, Indigo Illusion, Strawberry Silk, and Tolltac. Beduino is also the broodmare sire of eight Champions in Baychaino, Dash Thru Traffic, First Sovereign, IBA Dasher, Meter Me Gone, Royal Quick Dash, Stoli, and Your First Moon.