Sir Barton

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Sir Barton
SirBarton-Johnny Loftus-1919Preakness.jpg
Sir Barton & jockey Johnny Loftus, 1919
Sire Star Shoot
Grandsire Isinglass
Dam Lady Sterling
Damsire Hanover
Sex Stallion
Foaled 1916
Country Canada
Colour Chestnut
Breeder John E. Madden
Owner J. K. L. Ross
Trainer H. Guy Bedwell
Record 31: 13-6-5
Earnings $116,857
Major wins

Potomac Handicap (1919)
Withers Stakes (1919)
Saratoga Handicap (1920)
Merchants and Citizens Handicap (1920)

Triple Crown race wins:
Kentucky Derby (1919)
Preakness Stakes (1919)
Belmont Stakes (1919)
1st U.S. Triple Crown Champion (1919)
Unofficial United States Champion 3-Yr-Old Colt (1919)
Unofficial United States Horse of the Year (1919)
U.S. Racing Hall of Fame (1957)
Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame (1976)
#49 - Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century
Sir Barton Stakes at Woodbine Racetrack
Sir Barton Way in Lexington, Kentucky

Sir Barton (April 26, 1916 – October 30, 1937) was a chestnut Thoroughbred race horse who in 1919 became the first winner of what would come to be known as the American Triple Crown.

He was sired by the stallion Star Shoot out of the mare Lady Sterling, by Hanover. Sir Barton's paternal grandsire was the 1893 English Triple Crown champion, Isinglass,[1] his half-brother was 1908 juvenile champion Sir Martin.

Sir Barton was bred in Kentucky by John E. Madden in partnership with Vivian A. Gooch at Hamburg Place Farm near Lexington. Gooch served as the agent who purchased Sir Barton from Madden for Louis Winans. Madden purchased Gooch's share of Sir Barton when he decided to keep the colt and race him under his own colors.

Racing career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Madden raced the colt in his first four starts of his two-year-old season, but none of those starts showed the potential the colt would show in his workouts; in late August 1918, Madden sold the horse for a reported $10,000 to Canadian businessman and naval commander J. K. L. Ross. After some early success, Ross was growing his stable as part of an effort to commit more fully to racing, he owned farms in Vercheres, Quebec, where he established a breeding operation for his Canadian horses; and near Laurel, Maryland, for training and breeding his American stock.[2]

Ross placed Sir Barton in the hands of trainer H. Guy Bedwell. The colt made two more starts that year, finishing second in his last start, the 1918 Belmont Futurity, he contracted blood poisoning after another horse kicked him, opening a significant cut on his left hind leg. Bedwell personally nursed him through the illness, which sidelined Sir Barton for the rest of the year.

Triple Crown[edit]

At three, Sir Barton made his season debut as a maiden in the Kentucky Derby, ridden by jockey Johnny Loftus, he was supposed to be the rabbit (pacemaker) for his highly regarded stablemate, the gelding Billy Kelly. However, Sir Barton led the field of 12 horses from start to finish, winning the race by five lengths.[3] Just four days later, the horse was in Baltimore and won the Preakness Stakes, beating Eternal by four lengths. Again he led all the way,[4] he then won the Withers Stakes in New York in late May and shortly thereafter completed the first Triple Crown in U.S. history by winning the Belmont Stakes, setting an American record for the mile and three-eighths race, the distance for the Belmont at the time. Sir Barton's four wins were accomplished in a space of just 32 days, he has been retroactively honored as the 1919 Horse of the Year.

1920: four-year-old season[edit]

As a four-year-old, Sir Barton won five of the 12 races he entered during the 1920 season; in one of these races, the Saratoga Handicap, he beat Exterminator. While carrying 133 pounds, Sir Barton set a world record for ​1 316 miles on dirt in winning the August 28, 1920 edition of the Merchants and Citizens Handicap.[5] His match race on October 12 that year against Man o' War at Kenilworth Park in Windsor, Ontario, Canada is most remembered. Sir Barton, who suffered from hoof problems throughout his career, was unsuited for Kenilworth's hard surface, and was beaten by seven lengths.[6]

Retirement and stud[edit]

In early 1921, a controversy over Bedwell's support of disgraced jockey Cal Shilling forced Ross to fire Bedwell and bring Henry McDaniel, known for training Exterminator as a three-year-old, on board. McDaniel tried to get Sir Barton ready to race as a five-year-old, but was unable to get the him in racing shape. Ross retired Sir Barton to stud that year and, in 1922, sold the champion to Montfort and B.B. Jones, who brought the chestnut son of Star Shoot to Audley Farm in Berryville, Virginia, where he remained until 1933;[7] in December 2008, a statue of Sir Barton was unveiled in front of Audley Farm's stallion barn. The statue, by American sculptor Jan Woods, was a gift from Erich von Baumbach, Jr., whose family has had an association with the farm for thirty years.[8]

Despite being considered a "failure" at stud, Sir Barton sired the 1928 Kentucky Oaks winner and 1928 Champion Three Year Old Filly, Easter Stockings, he also sired Fort Thomas Handicap winner Nellie Custis. After Montfort Jones' death in 1927, B.B. Jones slowly exited the Thoroughbred racing industry; in 1933, Sir Barton became part of the U.S. Army Remount Service, first at Front Royal, Virginia and then, later that year, in Fort Robinson, Nebraska. Thoroughbred breeder and rancher J.R. Hylton purchased Sir Barton from the Remount Service and brought him to his ranch outside of Douglas, Wyoming.[9]

Sir Barton died of colic on October 30, 1937 and was buried on Hylton's ranch in the foothills of the Laramie Mountains. Later his remains were moved to Washington Park in Douglas, Wyoming, where a memorial was erected to honor America's first Triple Crown winner.

Honors and awards[edit]

Sir Barton was officially recognized by the Jockey Club as the first Triple Crown winner in 1948.[citation needed]

Sir Barton and Star Shoot both have streets named in their honor in Lexington, Kentucky, in the Hamburg Pavilion shopping center area. Sir Barton Way runs from Winchester Road to Man O' War Boulevard; Star Shoot Parkway runs from the shopping center across Sir Barton Way to Liberty Road.

Sir Barton was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1957.[10] In the Blood-Horse magazine ranking of the top 100 U.S. thoroughbred champions of the 20th Century, he is no. 49.


Pedigree of Sir Barton
Star Shoot
Isinglass Isonomy Sterling
Isola Bella
Deadlock Wenlock
Astrology Hermit Newminster
Stella Brother To Strafford
Toxophilite Mare
Lady Sterling
Hanover Hindoo Virgil
Bourbon Belle Bonnie Scotland
Ella D.
Aquila Sterling Oxford
Eagle Phoenix
Au Revoir
  • Sir Barton was inbred 3 × 4 to Sterling, meaning that thi stallion appears in both the third and fourth generations of his pedigree.


  1. ^ "Sir Barton pedigree". 2012-05-08. Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  2. ^ "Hall of Fame - Builder - Commander J.K.L. Ross, 1976". Retrieved 2011-11-30. 
  3. ^ "2006 | 2012 Kentucky Oaks & Derby | May 4 and 5, 2012 | Tickets, Events, News". 1967-01-12. Retrieved 2011-11-30. 
  4. ^ "Sir Barton is victor in Preakness". Gazette Times. May 15, 1919. Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  5. ^ Special to The New York Times. (1920-08-29). "SIR BARTON SETS NEW WORLD MARK". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-11-30. 
  6. ^ "Sir Barton". Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  7. ^ "Audley Farm, Berryville, VA". Archived from the original on 2012-02-11. Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  8. ^ "Audley Farm Honors Sir Barton". Retrieved 2011-11-30. 
  9. ^ Stephanie Diaz (1994-06-27). "June 27, 1994 ''Sports Illustrated'' article on Sir Barton". Retrieved 2011-11-30. 
  10. ^ "Sir Barton profile". Archived from the original on 2012-06-05. Retrieved 2012-08-05.