Arts and Letters | Horse Profile

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Arts and Letters

Foaled on April 1, 1966, Arts and Letters was trained by Elliott Burch. By the outstanding European racehorse Ribot, he was bred and raced by prominent owner Paul Mellon, who also bred and raced one of the greatest European horses of the century, 1971 Epsom Derby and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Mill Reef.

Arts and Letters was good without being outstanding as a juvenile, winning two of his six starts in 1968, but he exploded onto the racing scene as a 3-year-old.

Wintering in Florida, Arts and Letters won the Everglades Stakes and finished second in three stakes races before heading north, where he won the Blue Grass Stakes by 15 lengths.

Arts and Letters then went toe-to-toe with unbeaten Californian colt Majestic Prince in the Triple Crown. In two close finishes to begin the circuit, Arts and Letters placed second to Majestic Prince in both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes.

After beating Champion Older Horse Nodouble in the Metropolitan Handicap, Arts and Letters had a third clash in the Belmont Stakes with Majestic Prince, whose owner Frank McMahon ran him against the wishes of trainer Johnny Longden, who knew the colt had picked up a leg injury in the Preakness. Arts and Letters won the Belmont by 5-1/2 lengths from Majestic Prince, who suffered an injury that forced his retirement.

With Majestic Prince out of the way, Arts and Letters kept on winning. He beat the 3-year-olds in the Jim Dandy Stakes and Travers Stakes before beating Nodouble twice more in the Woodward Stakes and Jockey Club Gold Cup, the latter by 14 lengths. The performances were enough to earn him Champion 3-year-old Male and Horse of the Year.

In 1970, Arts and Letters contested four stakes races but only won the Grey Lag Handicap. He suffered an injury in the 1970 California Stakes and was retired, having earned $632,404 from 23 starts, 11 of which he won.

Arts and Letters was a reasonably successful sire whose most famous offspring was 1980 Preakness Stakes winner Codex. He also sired the grade I-winning geldings Winter’s Tale and Lord Darnley, along with the dual grade III winner Illiterate, the dam of 1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Alphabet Soup.

In 1994 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.