Track Magazine – September 2, 2020 – It’s hard to capsulize the life of a man like Dee Raper in a few short paragraphs. The Quarter Horse industry lost a really good friend when Dee passed away Tuesday at 1 a.m. at the Oklahoma Heart Hospital in Oklahoma City at the age of 83.
Dee’s actual name is Thomas Dearmond Raper. A native of Milburn, Oklahoma, Dee was a horse hauler in his early years. Since 1983, Dee and Betty, his wife of 47 years, bred thousands of mares on their Belle Mere Farm, which moved from Lexington, Oklahoma, in 1992 to its present location outside of Norman. As hands-on stud farm owners, they’ve stood numerous leading sires, including the legendary Easy Jet in 1985, Mr Eye Opener and Bully Bullion. Mr Eye Opener, who died in 2018 at age 28, was scheduled to be inducted into the AQHA Hall Of Fame this year. They stood as many as 13 stallions at one time, breeding more than 1,200 mares in a season.
Their current stallion roster includes Eye N Capo, BV Travelin Soldier and Prized Wagon.
Dee and Betty bred and raced Eye Yin You $193,489, winner of the 2004 Remington Park Futurity G1 and Remington Park Derby G3 the following year.
One of the recent stakes winners bred by Dee and Betty was Eye N Capo, who earned $612,342. The son of Capo De Capi won half of his 24 starts, including the 2016 Dash For Cash Futurity G2 and Evangeline Downs Futurity. The gelding went on to win five more stakes, including last year’s Remington Park Championship Challenge G2 and Sunland Park’s Rio Grand Handicap G2. Dee and Betty also bred and raced Eye N Capo’s dam, Satisfeyen, by Mr Eye Opener.
Dee and Betty also bred 2018 Mr Jet Moore Stakes G2 winner Knockemout Capi $188,958 and G3 stakes-placed winner Takin The High Road $98,192.
Numerous top mares were also boarded at Belle Mere Farm, including Run The Dash, the dam of 10 blacktype-earners, including World Champion Blues Girl Too $2,032,328, the all-time leading money-earning female.
Dee served as president of the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association from 1993 to 2001 and was an American Quarter Horse Association director. He had a big role in the passage of pari-mutuel racing in Oklahoma in 1983, and worked to expand gaming at the state’s tracks in subsequent years. He was inducted into the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Association Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Oklahoma Horse Racing Hall of Fame two years later. He was honored by the AQHA with the Gordon Crone Special Achievement Award in 2007.
Belle Mere Farm was inducted into the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2019.
Dee is survived by: wife Betty: sons Tommy Raper (Teresa) and Shawn Cisnneros (Angela); daughter Dawn Smith (James); grandsons Matt Raper and Blake Cisneros; granddaughters Rachel Smith (Cale) and Rebecca Miller (Cory); and great-granddaughter Scout.
A celebration of Dee’s life during an upcoming Heritage Place sale is being planned.
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