Saturday, May 4, 2013
Today was the Kentucky Derby, the first of the races that form that American Triple Crown. The elusive award has only been won 11 times, with the last occurrence way back in 1978.
Many of the horses to win this title have names that are remembered by history Secretariat. Affirmed. War Admiral. Sadly, the very first winner, Sir Barton, has not fared as well in the memory of the sport.
He won the Crown during the 1919 season. And amazingly, Sir Barton was an incredible longshot. As a two year old he entered six races and won none of them, and was eventually sold. His first race as a three year old actually was the Kentucky Derby, and he was entered to be the pacemaker for his much more regarded stablemate Billy Kelly. But being a pacemaker just wouldn't do for the chestnut Thoroughbred. He led the entire race and won by 5 lengths.
Back then, the time between Triple Crown races was far shorter, and Sir Barton entered and won the Preakness that same week! Only a few weeks after that he entered and won the Belmont Stakes as well, setting an American record and obtaining the first Triple Crown in only 32 days.
Sir Barton did actually race as a four year old, including a match race with Man O' War that he lost. He retired after that season and was put to stud for a number of years, ac
hieving moderate success. In the 1930s he ended up at working for the U.S. Army Remount Service in Nebraska, and was eventually sold to a rancher in Wyoming. He died in 1937.
Sir Barton only made $116,000 during his racing career, wining only 13 races of 31 starts. He was certainly not the winning-est of the Triple Crown winners, but he was the first! He was elected to the racing Hall of Fame in 1957.