King Ranch Racing Silk Jacket
Breeding champion horses on the largest ranch in Texas
The King Ranch began their incredibly successful and long-running horse breeding program in the early 1900s. While the ranch no longer breeds thoroughbred race horses, their quarter horse program continues to produce some of the world’s best ranching horses.
The Ranch purchased the foundation sire, Old Sorrel, for their champion quarter horse breeding program in 1915. Every quarter horse on King Ranch to this day is descended from Old Sorrel. They have produced several National Cutting Horse and American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) champions, including the AQHA's very first grand champion, Wimpy, in 1941. Today, King Ranch’s quarter horse breeding program is highly regarded and incredibly successful, with over 7,500 registered quarter horses with the AQHA, a thousand more than any other ranch.
In 1939, King Ranch purchased Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Bold Venture. He sired the Ranch's most successful thoroughbreds, Middleground and Asssault. Middleground won the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes in 1950. Assault won the Triple Crown in 1946, the only Texas-bred horse to date to win the Crown. Assault's success was hard won. As a foal, he suffered a foot injury that resulted in most of his hoof being cut away. He wore a special shoe for the rest of his life and limped when walking or trotting. But, he ran perfectly at a gallop, earning him the nickname "the Club-Footed Comet."
The King Ranch traces its origins to 1852, when Richard King set up a cattle camp in South Texas. He purchased a 15,500-acre land grant — Rincón de Santa Gertrudis — the following year and continued to expand. The ranch is still owned by King’s descendants but is significantly larger — it spans 825,000 acres in Texas, an area larger than Rhode Island.
Courtesy King Ranch Archives, King Ranch Inc., Kingsville
Time Period: 1946 - 1970
This artifact is currently on view.