Everything about Sysonby was short and sweet. He was born in 1902 and lived a short life before passing away in 1906. His record of 14-0-1 over 15 starts is one of the most impressive feats in Thoroughbred racing history. He was inducted in to the Hall of Fame in 1956.
Sysonby was conceived in England, by Epsom Derby winner Mellon out of Optime, a daughter of Orme. Optime was in foal with Sysonby when she was shipped to the United States, where she was bought by prominent owner-breeder James Keene.
His trainer was the renowned James G. Rowe, who had to battle with Keene to keep him in the stable. Sysonby was slated to be sent back to England, but when it came time to select the foals for shipment, Rowe covered him in blankets and notified Keene that was too sick to travel. This was a ruse.
During the 1904 season, Sysonby was clearly the best juvenile. His wins included the Flash Stakes and Saratoga Special, while his lone loss came in the Sheepshead Bay Futurity Stakes, where he finished third. His groom later admitted drugging Sysonby for profit.
His 1905 season as a three-year-old was even better. He won all nine of his starts, beginning with a dead-heat in the Metropolitan Handicap with a lighter-weighted horse, and following that with as it was highlighted with triumphs in the Brighton Derby, Century Stakes, Lawrence Realization Stakes, and Tidal Stakes.
Unfortunately, Sysonby would contract a rare disease known as variola and died on June 17, 1906 in his stable.
Many pundits have named Sysonby one of the greatest colts the sport has ever known, and it is truly disheartening that this champion passed away before realizing his full potential.