Inducted in 2000

In the retelling, fish get bigger, men become legends and girls get prettier. But by all accounts and from a wide range of horsemen, Miss Jim 45 may come as close to perfection as the Quarter Horse world will see.

Bred by James Nance of El Reno, Oklahoma, the red dun mare was by Jim Harlan out of the Waggoner Ranch mare Miss Paulo's 45. Shown by Nance to the Oklahoma high-point filly title as a yearling and two-year-old, she was bought by Matlock Rose and George Tyler in February 1969.

Between February and June 1969, the filly was shown 69 times, with 65 firsts, three seconds and a third.

A 20-year-old University of Michigan student named Frank Merrill spotted one of Miss Jim 45's win pictures with Matlock Rose at the lead in the May 1969 Western Horseman.

"Mr. Rose," he recalled saying in the November 1991 QHJ. "You don't know me, but I'm Frank Merrill of Fremont, Michigan, and I've just seen this picture of you and Miss Jim 45. I'd like to know if she's for sale."

"Are you standing or sitting down?" Rose asked. "Because we want quite a bit for her."

"How much?" Merrill quietly asked.

"$30,000," Rose replied.

"Mr. Rose, I'm coming out West after school gets out in June," Merrill said. "I may not buy her, but I'd sure like to see a $30,000 mare."

A two-week trip to Texas after school saw Merrill at Rose and Tyler's place in Gainesville, and he knew at first sight he had to own the mare.

Tyler rejected his first offer of $20,000, but accepted a deal for $25,000 the next morning, and shared a piece of advice before Merrill headed off.

"He showed me how to set her, and get her ears up," Merrill said. "Above all he gave me three pieces of advice. First, he said, 'Either be the first horse in the class with this mare, or the last, because inevitably, the judge is going to compare everything he has seen with this mare. Give him a good impression.' Second, he told me, 'You're going to have to hide this mare until right before the class. If people see her, they're liable to pull their mares out of the class.' Finally, Mr. George said, 'A mare like this, you show in a plain leather halter. For the idiots out there, put a brass nameplate on the side that says Miss Jim 45.'"

Horsemen in his home state of Michigan didn't share much love with Merrill for all the shows he and Miss Jim 45 won during the summer of '69. At the Chicago International Livestock Exposition, legendary horseman Jack Kyle named the mare grand champion.

"Son, I don't know who you are, but you've got the greatest mare I've ever laid eyes on," Kyle told the young Merrill.

In 1970, Merrill enlisted Clark Bradley to campaign the mare. One hundred twenty-thousand miles, 153 shows, 139 firsts, 12 seconds, a third and a fifth later, Miss Jim 45 was the 1970 high-point halter mare. Along the way she amassed 436 points - more than any other mare up to that time. In her lifetime, she earned 176 grand champion mare titles, 33 reserves and 642 halter points.

Merrill sold Miss Jim 45 to Michael Mulberger of Arizona in May 1971. Her lone offspring was a 1973 bay colt by Boston Mac. A racing Register of Merit earner, Mr Colt 45 started seven races with earnings of $696.

Although not able to pass on her near-perfect conformation, the picture of Miss Jim 45 lives on in the imaginations of those who saw her. And it's not a big fish story.

Taken from the AQHA Hall of Fame website and the March 2000 issue of The American Quarter Horse Journal

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