(from the Audrain County Historical Museum)
The horse that brought Tom Bass the most fame as a horse trainer was Miss Rex 820. She was said to be the best high school and saddle horse; able to go in and out of all the saddle gaits with ease. Miss Rex was a dark steel gray, standing 15 ½ hands, and weighing 1,000 pounds. Bred by R. P. Glen and foaled in 1889, Miss Rex was sired by Rex Denmark 840, by Crigler’s Denmark, by Washington’s Denmark 64, and by Gaines’ Denmark 61; her dam was Roy 1716, by Pat Cleburne Jr., by Pat Cleburne 3242. Her dam was claimed to be a great brood mare.
Tom Bass riding the Champion Saddle Mare, Miss Rex
At three years of age, Miss Rex was purchased by Joseph A. Potts, Mexico, Missouri and Thomas M. Wilson, Bowling Green, Kentucky for $350. Mr. Wilson later sold his interest to Mr. Potts. Tom Bass, Mr. Pott’s trainer, was put in charge of Miss Rex. In Tom Bass’ hands, Miss Rex developed her saddle gaits and became a skilled high school horse. Miss Rex was said to be an apt scholar and did her work with precision and animation.
Miss Rex changed hands several times in her lifetime. Colonel S. H. Fulton bought Miss Rex from Colonel C. F. Holmes a Kansas City millionaire, for $4,000. Colonel Fulton used the mare to advertise the railway company, for which he was an official. Colonel Holmes continued to have Tom Bass train and show Miss Rex.
Under trainer Tom Bass, Miss Rex won many ribbons during her show career. She was shown with success as a three-year-old, and as a four-year-old in 1893 she won many prizes. She also won many big stakes at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago under the ownership of Mr. Potts. Miss Rex placed second to Lou Chief 1142 for saddle mare, any age. For four-year-old mares of all work, she was second to Rustic Lady at the St. Louis Horse Show. The most notable victory of her career may have been winning champion saddle horse of the St. Louis Horse Show where she placed over Lou Chief, her sire Rex Denmark, as well as others. In 1894, Miss Rex won the sweepstakes saddle class in Kansas City. The same year in October at the St. Louis Fair she won the premium for the best saddle mare, any age.1
Miss Rex became such a consistent winner at the Madison Square Garden Show in New York that the high school class was changed to a non-competitive exhibition. The Breeder’s Gazette once stated after one of her competitions, “Miss Rex was up to her best form, and won great favor. Nothing could approach her in the high school steps.” Pretty good for a little “pony built, rump-driven, air-chopping horse,” isn’t it, Mr. Kentucky horse.2
One of the biggest wins for Miss Rex was the $1,000 Stillwell stake at the Fairmount Park, Kansas City, in 1896. This show continued for more than three hours on a Monday afternoon and Miss Rex defeated many top of the fine horses from Missouri and Kentucky such as Rex McDonald and Thornton’s Star. On Tuesday, Miss Rex won the $600 high school class, and on Wednesday she won the LongBell $500 stake. Miss Rex placed first in a class for the best mare, any age; first in the championship class and first in the high school class at the Illinois State Fair held in Springfield.
After Miss Rex won in Kansas City in 1895, Colonel Fleming, an Englishman, offered Colonel Fulton $6,000 to buy her. However, when Fulton refused, Fleming asked for Miss Rex and Tom Bass to be shown before the Queen of England. When Tom Bass was told that he could not ride the rail, he refused to go and said that Miss Rex would stay on firm ground in America.3
After retiring from the show ring, Miss Rex produced several good foals. One of them was Frances McDonald 5685, by Rex McDonald. Frances McDonald was sold by Tom Bass to Hugh Willoughby, Lexington, Kentucky, who later sold her for $2,500.4
Miss Rex was buried on the property of the late R. H. Cauthorn; Mexico’s High School recreation area. There are two other horses buried in the same spot as Miss Rex. They are The Kid and The Intelligencer. The three horses were given grave markers at the 62nd Audrain County-Nemo Fair by the Missouri Governor in 1951.5
Mrs. A. E. Ashbrook, a member of Fairmount Riding Club on Miss Rex
Miss Rex was without a doubt one of the greatest saddle and high school gaited horses that were shown in the ring. It was stated that Miss Rex had a perfect disposition and perfect manners thus making her a fine ladies mount.
- Famous Saddle Horses and Distinguished Horseman
- Horse Show Monthly Vol. II 1896
- Horse Show Monthly Vol. III 1897
- Famous Saddle Horses and Distinguished Horsemen
- Vertical File, Missouri State Historical Society, Columbia, August 1951
Photo Credits: Horse Show Monthly