Along with three other stallions, (Medley, Sharp, and Diomed), Messenger provided the type of foal, both filly and colt, that was needed for the era of long distance (stamina and speed) racing popular in the early days of the American sport.
Messenger was a grey by Mambrino out of an unnamed mare (1774) by Turf. He was inbred to Cade in the third and fourth generations of his pedigree. Mambrino traced straight back to Blaze, the father of trotters. Messenger has crosses to all three of the Thoroughbred foundation sires, particularly Godolphin Arabian. Although his sire was a trotter, Messenger never ran a trot race. While still in England, he started in 16 flat races and won ten of them. Messenger's races, usually less than two and half miles, were mainly "match" races in which the side bets far exceeded the purse.
Messengers appearance gave an impression of solidity and power. He had large and always active ears. Expressive they were, too. A large and bony head; its nose had a decided Roman tendency, the nostrils large and flexible. Large windpipes and short neck, but not coarse or thick. Low withers and round the shoulders heavy and upright. Superior hips and quarters. The bones of the limbs were strong and large. He always stood prompt and upright on all four legs. As a gray, he became lighter with age. He was 15.3 hands high.
Arrival in America
In May 1788 Sir Thomas Benger imported Messenger to Pennsylvania. In 1793, Messenger was sold to Henry Astor. Messenger was once advertised in a Philadelphia newspaper as: Available for service: Inquiries to be made to a certain Alexander Clay at the sign of the Black Horse in Market Street.
Like the other three English stallions, and as was the custom of the day, Messenger was bred throughout Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. The mares he was bred with were not of the highest quality, but even so he proved himself a superior stallion, siring a great many successful racehorses.
Messenger's daughter, Miller's Damsel, also known as "Queen of the American Turf", gave birth to the horse his breeder named American Eclipse in the belief the foal would be as great as the famous English Eclipse. By Duroc, a fine son of Diomed, American Eclipse did indeed turn out to be a champion.
He was not only a great sire of Thoroughbreds, he was also the founding father of the harness breed, or modern-day American Standardbred through his great grandson, Rysdyk's (Hambletonian 10). His genes have also contributed to the American Saddlebred, and Tennessee Walking Horse breeds.
|Mare by Hip|
|Mare by Young Greyhound||Young Greyhound|
|Mare by Curwen Barb|
|Mare by Cade
|Mare by Little John
|Bolton Little John|
Sister to Hyacinth
|Mare by Partner|
|Mare by Starling||Ancaster Starling|
|Mare by Regulus
|Mare by Starling
|Sister (1740) to Slipby (1)|
- Thoroughbred Bloodlines: Early stud book
- Messenger's pedigree, with fine drawing
- Facsimile edition of Elderkin, J. (1868). "The Turf and the Trotting Horse in America". Atlantic Monthly, vol. XXI May, pp. 513-533.
- Facsimile edition of Elliott, C. W. (1869). "Among our great farmers-The horse growers". Galaxy, vol. VII January to July, pp. 413-424.