The story of Easy Jet’s blazing career and his lifelong bond with owner Walter Merrick.
Written by Diane Ciarloni Simmons in the March 1990 issue which featured a special tribute to the American Quarter Horse Association in honor of its 50th Anniversary. Among other articles, included was Legends of the Breed: Horses profiling a number of legendary horses. The success of that article and issue led to the creation of the Legends book series. Legends: Volume 9 is set to be released in early 2017.
Easy Jet was sired by Jet Deck, and is out of Lena’s Bar (TB), by Three Bars (TB). He has sired 140 stakes winners and 149 stakes-placed. His progeny have earned in excess of $24 million. The numbers are more than impressive, and they don’t include his 1988 and 1989 crops. In the 1989 Speedhorse Stallion Register, his name appeared in 40 percent of either the first or second generations of the 300 stallions listed. And he is unique in that he has also proven a premier sire of outstanding mares.
He’s 23 years old and still breeding. Just how far his influence will ultimately reach in the pages of race horse history is yet to be determined. It already spans three equine registries-the American Quarter Horse Association, the American Paint Horse Association, and the Appaloosa Horse Club.
The horse is the only All-American Futurity winner to sire three winners of that race: Easy Date, ’74; Pie In The Sky, ’79; and Mr. Trucka Jet, ’85.
In retrospect, it seems as if Easy Jet’s life began under a star of brilliance and, despite the controversy that has sometimes muddied his 23 years of living, the brilliance has never dimmed.
Bred and owned for most of his life by veteran horseman Walter Merrick of Sayre, Okla., Easy Jet hit the ground in 1967. He was the last foal of Lena’s Bar and her finest contribution to the running horse industry. According to Merrick, the sorrel colt with the blaze face and snips of white on his feet was never still. His head was always up, looking for would-be competitors in the open expanses of pasture. He was ready to run at a moment’s notice, searching for an excuse to kick up his heels and unleash the speed building in him as a yearling.
A lifelong bond formed between Merrick and Easy Jet. It was the colt’s owner/ breeder who handled breaking and training, bringing the sorrel along nice and easy. There was seldom a time when the colt wasn’t sensible and willing, but there were many times when it was nearly impossible for him to contain his innate exuberance for life. In 1969–when Easy Jet was 2 and Merrick was 56–the duo loaded up and began a campaign that was to make the record books.
1969 was a tough year for horse and man. There were many in the industry who wondered about Merrick’s judgment. That sorrel colt seemed to be in the trailer constantly, covering mile after mile between racetrack after racetrack. No one knew it then, but traveling was destined to characterize Easy Jet’s entire life.