Sir Barton | Horse Profile

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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.

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