Sir Barton, (1916–1937), was a chestnut
thoroughbred colt who in 1919 became the first winner of
the American Triple Crown.
He was sired by leading stud Star Shoot
out of the Hanover mare Lady Sterling. His grandsire was
the 1893 English Triple Crown champion, Isinglass.
Sir Barton was bred in Kentucky by John
E. Madden and Vivian A. Gooch at Hamburg Place Farm near
Lexington. Madden raced him in his two-year-old season.
He was entered in six races, winning none. Madden sold
the horse in 1918 for $10,000 to Canadian businessman J.
K. L. Ross.
Ross placed Sir Barton in the hands of
trainer H. Guy Bedwell and jockey Johnny Loftus. At
three, he made his season debut as a maiden in
the Kentucky Derby. He was supposed to be the rabbit for
his highly regarded stablemate, a horse named Billy
Kelly. (A rabbit is a speed horse set up to wear out the
rest of the field, thereby allowing another horse to
win.) However, it was Sir Barton who led the field of 12
horses from start to finish, winning the race by five
lengths. Just four days later, the horse was
in Baltimore and won the Preakness Stakes, beating
Eternal. Again he led all the way. He then won
the Withers Stakes in New York and shortly thereafter
completed the first Triple Crown in U.S. history by
easily winning the Belmont Stakes, setting an American
record for the mile and three-eighths race, the distance
for the Belmont at the time. Amazingly, Sir Barton's
four wins were accomplished in a space of just 32 days.
He was voted the 1919 Horse of the Year, American
racing's highest honor.
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 the
great Exterminator. While carrying 133 pounds, Sir
Barton set a world record for 1 3/16 miles on dirt in
winning the August 28, 1920 edition of the Merchants and
Citizens Handicap. However, it was his match race on
October 12 that year against the great Man o' War at
Kenilworth Park in Windsor, Ontario, Canada that is most
remembered. Sir Barton, bothered by sore hooves on
Kenilworth's hard surface, was beaten by seven lengths.
He retired to stud that year, virtually forgotten by the
public. In 1922 Ross sold Sir Barton to B. B. Jones who
stood him at his Audley Farm in Berryville, Virginia,
where he remained until 1933. In December 2008, a statue
was unveiled of Sir Barton 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
As a sire, Sir Barton enjoyed only
moderate success and spent the better part of the rest
of his life as a working horse with the U.S. Army
Remount service in Fort Robinson, Nebraska until being
sold to rancher J.R. Hylton in Douglas, Wyoming.
Sir Barton died of colic on October 30,
1937 and was buried on a ranch in the foothills of
the Laramie Mountains. Later though, his remains were
moved to Washington Park in Douglas, Wyoming where a
memorial was erected to honor America's first Triple
Sir Barton was officially recognized by
the governing body as the first triple crown winner in
Sir Barton and Star Shoot both have a
street named in their honor in Lexington, Kentucky, in
the Hamburg Shopping Center. Sir Barton Way runs from
Winchester Road To Man O' War Blvd; Star Shot runs out
on to Sir Barton . He was inducted into the National
Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1957. In
the Blood-Horse magazine ranking of the top 100 U.S.
thoroughbred champions of the 20th Century, he is no.