Assault | Horse Profile

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In 1946 Assault won Horse of the Year following his Triple Crown accomplishments.

Quick Career Stats for Sir Barton

  • Starts: 42
  • Wins: 18
  • Places: 6
  • Shows: 7
  • Earnings: $675,470
Assault Pedigree
*St. Germans (1921)
Bold Venture (1933)
Possible (1920)
Assault (1943)
Equipoise (1928)
Igual (1937)
Incadescent (1931)

How did Assault win the Triple Crown?

  • The Kentucky Derby
    • The track may have been slow, but Assault was anything but pedestrian in the 72nd Kentucky Derby. A perfect ground-saving trip set the stage for a dominant performance as Assault settled behind the early leaders before unleashing a decisive burst of acceleration at the top of the stretch. Squeezing through an opening along the rail, Assault powered clear to win by eight lengths in 2:06 3/5, equaling Whirlaway’s record margin of victory.
  • The Preakness Stakes
    • A premature rally to the front nearly cost Assault victory in the Preakness. After racing in mid-pack early on, the favored chestnut produced a sweeping outside rally to take command on the far turn, with his momentum carrying him to a fourth-length lead at the eighth pole. At that point Assault become leg-weary, drifting toward the rail under urging, but the wire came just in time for Assault to hold on and win by a neck in 2:01 2/5.
  • The Belmont Stakes
    • A narrow victory in the Preakness prompted bettors to dismiss Assault as the second betting choice in the Belmont Stakes, but their doubts about the Triple Crown hopeful proved to be unfounded. A stumble at the start left Assault in mid-pack for much of the race, but down the homestretch he rallied resolutely, closing a two-length deficit in the final furlong to win by three lengths in 2:30 4/5. He remains the most recent Triple Crown winner to claim the Belmont with a rally from off the pace.

Who was Assault?

Assault was a multiple graded stakes winner who won 18 of 42 starts with 13 additional in-the-money finishes. Assault became the only Texas-bred colt to achieve the coveted Triple Crown, winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes as a 3-year-old in 1946.

By Bold Venture, a winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, Assault was plagued with an assortment of illness and injuries throughout his career. He was dubbed the ‘Club-Footed Comet’ when his front hoof became permanently deformed after stepping on a stake early in his career.

Assault won just two races in nine starts as a 2-year-old, including one of four stakes races, before winning his first two races as a 3-year-old including the Wood Memorial only two weeks ahead of the Kentucky Derby. He failed in the Derby Trial a week later, but then ran away with the Derby by eight lengths at 8-1 odds, the largest margin of victory in the Run for the Roses up to that time.

In that era of racing, the Preakness Stakes was run just one week following the Kentucky Derby, and Assault held on in the stretch to win by a neck as the favorite. He did not go off as the favorite in the Belmont Stakes, however, but pulled away late to complete the Triple Crown. He did so as one of the smallest horses to complete the Triple Crown at 15 ½ hands and 950 pounds.

Assault was then beaten in six consecutive races – the first while suffering a kidney infection – leading some to doubt whether he was a good Triple Crown winner. But in his final two races that season he scored victories in the Pimlico Special and the Westchester Handicap, beating the top-notch older horse Stymie, who like Assault was foaled at King Ranch in Texas. These wins, along with the Triple Crown, ensured he was named Horse of the Year.

As a 4-year-old, Assault won five of seven races. The plan was for Assault to retire and stand at stud along his sire at King Ranch. However, none of the mares he mated with became pregnant, and tests revealed that Assault was sterile.

His racing career then resumed, but the winning did not during Assault’s campaigns at five, six, and seven.

Assault died Sept. 2, 1971. He was buried at the King Ranch where he had been foaled. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1964.

More rare photos of Assault