Longtime Oklahoma Horsemen Dee Raper Passes Away

Posted by Press Release on 09/03/2020

NORMAN, OK—SEPTEMBER 2, 2020—Longtime Oklahoma horseman "Dee" Raper, 82, passed away Tuesday.

Born in Milburn, Oklahoma, Thomas Dearmond “Dee” Raper, gave a lifetime of devotion to the Quarter Horse racing industry and Oklahoma. 

He was always around horses and his journey into racing started with hauling horses. Raper purchased a farm in Yukon, Oklahoma where he began to immerse himself in a total involvement in the business of horse racing. 

Working alongside his wife Betty, they moved the operation to Lexington, Oklahoma before relocating to Norman in the early 1990s. Named after a lake near their Lexington farm, Belle Mere Farm has been a major influence for both Oklahoma racing and horse racing in general. 

Dee and Betty began building relationships with many influential horsemen and they stood the legendary Easy Jet in 1985. 

Raper became involved in the drive to make Oklahoma a pari-mutuel racing state, serving as the coordinator for the movement in Cleveland County. After years of hard work, the campaign to bring pari-mutuel horse racing to Oklahoma was approved in 1983. The first races with wagers took place the following year at Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw, Oklahoma. 

Raper continued his involvement in the Oklahoma horse racing industry by serving as the president of the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association (OQHRA), for 14 years. As a leader for Oklahoma horsemen, he was influential in getting additional revenue streams going for racing in the state. 

While the business of racing for Oklahoma improved, so did the success of Belle Mere Farm and their line of prominent stallions, led by Bully Bullion. The 1988 AQHA Racing Champion Aged Stallion, Bully Bullion earned over $225,000 in his career on the track and has been an extreme force at stud, siring champions on the track and in the arena and as a top broodmare sire. 

Grade 1 winner Mr Eye Opener began his stallion career at Belle Mere in 1994. He became one of the industry's leading sires, producing a number of stakes horses including 2000 All American Futurity, champion Eyesa Special. Also one of the industry's top broodmare sires, Mr Eye Opener died at Belle Mere in 2018 at age of 28. 

Dee and Betty's multiple stakes winner, Eye Yin You, is a direct product of the two aforementioned stallions. The homebred by Mr Eye Opener from the Bully Bullion mare Take After Me, pulled off an unprecedented racing feat at Remington Park. He is the only horse to win both the Remington Park Futurity and then the Remington Park Derby, achieving the illusive double in 2004 and 2005 respectively. 

The Raper's also stared the career of the young sire Freighttrain B. The stallion who stood his first three seasons at Belle Mere Farms has quickly become one of the industry's top stallions, including siring the morning-line favorite in Monday's All American Futurity(G1), Whistle Stop Café, at Ruidoso Downs. 

Respected for his contributions to the sport beyond the boundaries of Oklahoma, Raper was honored by the AQHA in 2007 with the Gordon Crone Special Achievement Award. In 2010, Raper was inducted to the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Association Hall of Fame and in 2012 the Oklahoma Horse Racing Hall of Fame. 

Service information will be posted when it becomes available.

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