Sir Barton | Horse Profile

Horse > Sir Barton

Sir Barton

Born in 1916, Triple Crown winner Sir Barton was awarded the feat posthumously. He did win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes, but the Triple Crown had not been invented yet!

Quick Career Stats for Sir Barton

  • Starts: 31
  • Wins: 13
  • Places: 6
  • Shows: 5
  • Earnings: $116,857
Sir Barton Pedigree
Isinglass (GB)
*Star Shoot
=Astrology (GB)
Sir Barton
Lady Sterling (1899)

How did Sir Barton win the Triple Crown?

  • The Kentucky Derby
    • A clean, front-running trip over a heavy track ensured Sir Barton’s Kentucky Derby triumph was achieved without drama. As a maiden carrying just 112.5 pounds, Sir Barton sprinted straight to the lead, carved out fractions of :24 1/5, :48 2/5, and 1:14, and confidently turned back a challenge from stabemate Billy Kelly to win by five lengths in 2:09 4/5.
  • The Preakness Stakes
    • Early speed was the secret to Sir Barton’s success in the Preakness, held at the time over 1 1/8 miles rather than 1 3/16 miles. Sent straight to the lead while favored at 7-5, the chestnut son of Star Shoot carved out fractions of :23 2/5, :47 1/5, and 1:13 before widening easily to win eased up by four lengths in 1:53.
  • The Belmont Stakes
    • The first Triple Crown winner didn’t face much of a challenge to complete the three-race series. Just two rivals lined up to oppose the Kentucky Derby/Preakness champion in the Belmont Stakes (then held over 1 3/8 miles), and after tracking the pace for much of the journey, Sir Barton cruised to the front and dominated by five lengths in 2:17 2/5, an American record.

Who was Sir Barton?

Sir Barton is best known as the first ever American Triple Crown winner. Born in 1916, the chestnut Thoroughbred race horse swept the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes in 1919.

Originally bred by John E. Madden, Sir Barton was sold after four unplaced 2-year-old starts to J.K.L Ross, a former naval commander and prominent Canadian businessman for $10,000 in August 1918. H. Guy Bedwell was enlisted as his head trainer, and fostered a strong relationship with the future champion. Sir Barton started twice more as a juvenile, his best run being a second-place finish in the Futurity States, but he then contracted blood poisoning due to an injury and required extra care.

Thankfully Sir Barton would make a full recovery, and he entered the Kentucky Derby as a rabbit for the more promising prospect Billy Kelly, a 3-year-old gelding. Starting for the first time as a 3-year-old, Sir Barton would not only set the pace but lead the entire way and win the Kentucky Derby by five lengths in what was a completely unexpected result.

Four days later, Sir Barton would storm the Preakness Stakes from wire-to-wire and then win the Withers Stakes just 10 days after. A few weeks following the Withers win, the surging son of Star Shoot would complete the Triple Crown with a rousing triumph in the 1919 Belmont Stakes.

Making the achievement of four straight wins even more memorable was the fact that Sir Barton accomplished this feat in a matter of just 32 total days. Since the Triple Crown was not an official entity at the time, Sir Barton was posthumously honored with this achievement by the Jockey Club in 1948. He has also been retroactively awarded the 1919 Horse of the Year award.

Sir Barton proved himself several times in the rest of his 3-year-old season and as a 4-year-old. He won nine more races, including the Potomac Handicap, the 1920 Saratoga Handicap (beating Exterminator), and a world-record setting victory over 1 3/16 miles in the Merchant and Citizens Handicap.

Sir Barton was then well beaten in a highly-publicized match race with 3-year-old champion Man o’ War in the Kenilworth Park Gold Cup, and could not win again that year.

With a record of 13-6-5 in 31 starts, Sir Barton was sent to stud following the 1920 season with career earnings of $116,857.

Despite an accomplished racing career, Sir Barton was not considered a successful sire and passed away on October 30th, 1937 at the age of 21 years old.

Sir Barton has been honored with inductions in to the U.S. Racing Hall of Fame in 1957 and the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 1976. The champion race horse is also the namesake for the Sir Barton Stakes at Woodbine Racetrack, and had a street named after him as well. Sir Barton Way is located in Lexington, Kentucky.

More rare photos of Sir Barton

Sir Barton The images above are protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in print or electronically without written permission of the Keeneland Library.

Sir Barton and jockey E. Sande at Saratoga
Sir Barton and jockey E. Sande at Saratoga (Keeneland Library Cook Collection) This image is protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in print or electronically without written permission of the Keeneland Library.
Sir Barton at the track
Sir Barton at the track (Keeneland Library Cook Collection) This image is protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in print or electronically without written permission of the Keeneland Library.

Further Reading:
BloodHorse – Triple Crown Heroes: Sir Barton