Barry Irwin

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Barry Irwin (left) at the Neue Bult race track in Hanover, Germany

Barry Howard Irwin (born April 21, 1943 in Long Beach, California) is the owner of the Thoroughbred horse racing stable of Team Valor International in Versailles, Kentucky. He is the owner and breeder of the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner, Animal Kingdom, and the Breeders' Cup winner Pluck.


Interested in racehorses from a very early age, 1969 Irwin became a staff writer for The Blood-Horse magazine in Kentucky. Over the next decade, he also worked as the editor of The Thoroughbred of California, and was a syndicated columnist for southern California in The Daily Racing Form. He hosted a twice-weekly, two-hour radio program, as well as a weekly, one-hour television show. Irwin left the Form at the close of the 1978 Del Mar meet to become a bloodstock agent. For the next decade, Irwin bred, raced, syndicated, bought, and sold several hundred horses, including It's the One, African Sky, Moscow Ballet and Torsion.

In 1988 Irwin founded Clover Racing Stable, which became Team Valor when a partner in Clover Racing opted out. In 2007 Barry Irwin bought out long-time partner and friend Jeff Siegel and became the sole proprietor of the stable. At that time, because of the changing focus toward foreign racing and foreign thoroughbred acquisitions, Irwin changed the name of the stable to Team Valor International.[1]

The nickname given him by some friends has stuck and Barry Irwin is known among his clients as "B Eye," using his initials to refer to his uncanny ability that has gained him "legendary" status in ferreting out talent from some of the most unlikely venues the world has to offer.

In 2002, Irwin had his story about his favorite racehorse, Swaps, published by Eclipse Press as part of its biographical series of racehorses.

In 2004, 2005 and 2006, Irwin purchased yearling horses at public auction which later went on to win Grade 1 races.

Irwin was a founding director with the equine-related charity "Race for Education," [2] which raises money to provide college scholarships to the offspring of backstretch and farm workers. One percent of the purse money earned by Team Valor horses (with a matching amount from Irwin) went to the Race for Education to provide these much-needed scholarships. In 2006, Irwin became the organization's inaugural recipient of the "Valedictorian Award." His participation with this charity spanned from its founding through 2009.

In 2010, Irwin's horse Pluck, which he bred from a South African mare he had earlier imported, won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.

In 2011, Irwin's horse, Animal Kingdom, which he bred from a German mare he had earlier imported, won the 137th Kentucky Derby. The Derby winner's sire, the Brazilian-bred horse Leroidesanimaux, had earlier been purchased for stud duty by Barry Irwin on behalf of a Kentucky breeding farm.

In 2013, Animal Kingdom won the world's richest horserace - the $10-million Dubai World Cup, which is held annually in late March in the United Arab Emirates.

In 2014, the equine charity Equine Advocates named Barry Irwin as that year's recipient of their "Equine Savior Award" citing his industry leadership and staunch stance on banning drugs in the sport of horse racing.[3]

Racing Around the Globe[edit]

Barry Irwin's stable, Team Valor International, is truly a global venture. With racing available in so many exciting places, Team Valor and its partners have gone racing in the following nations:

  • America
  • Canada
  • England
  • Ireland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Austria
  • Switzerland
  • Dubai
  • Saudi Arabia
  • South Africa
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • Brazil
  • Uruguay
  • South Korea

The Writer[edit]

In the year 2000, Eclipse Press, the publishing arm of the industry magazine The Blood-Horse began a series of books about the greatest horses in the history of American racing. This was called the Thoroughbred Legends Series. In 2002, Barry Irwin was invited to write the Legends Series book "Swaps; the California Comet" which told the story of the 1955 Kentucky Derby winner. Irwin eagerly accepted the task since Swaps was his favorite racehorse of all time.

In 2016, Barry Irwin published his memoirs titled "Derby Innovator; the Making of Animal Kingdom", in which he reviews the moments in his life which helped to form his unique perspective on horse racing, including management and breeding. He also shares some excellent insight and background on many of the famous racehorses who carried his colors to the winners' circle - from his first stakes win in the 1970s in California, all the way to the 2011 Kentucky Derby with Animal Kingdom.

Irwin has also been a long-time contributor of Op-Ed pieces for the Paulick Report, The Blood-Horse, Sporting Post and the Thoroughbred Daily News on industry matters.

Awards and Scholarships[edit]

Barry Irwin, through his desire to improve the industry and the lives of those who work in it, has established the following annual awards and scholarships:

Stanley Bergstein Writing Award

  • Irwin established the Stanley Bergstein Writing Award to motivate writers to produce articles and Op/Ed pieces in the tradition of the honoree, hard-hitting turf writer Stanley Bergstein who died in 2011. Irwin puts up the annual winning prize of $25,000 in the hopes that it will encourage turf writers to get out of their usual comfort zone and engage in real investigative journalism. The award was first given in 2012.

The Isaac Murphy Memorial Scholarship

  • In 2012, Barry Irwin established the Isaac Murphy Memorial Scholarship, named in honor of the racing industry's greatest jockey Isaac Murphy whose lifetime winning percentage of 44% has never been approached. The scholarship assists in funding the entire college education of the successful African-American applicant who has the passion to work in the equine industry upon graduation. The Race for Education oversees the application process of this award.

The Johnny Velazquez Scholarship

  • Also initiated in 2012, this college scholarship honors Hall of Fame jockey Johnny Velazquez who rode Team Valor International's horse Animal Kingdom to victory in the 2011 Kentucky Derby. The scholarship is awarded to a student of Hispanic descent who has a passion to work in the equine industry upon graduation. The Race for Education oversees the application process for this award.

Personal life[edit]

Barry Irwin lives in Versailles with his wife Kathleen. He also has a daughter, Chloë. Barry Irwin is an avid collector of Art, being particularly interested in works of Racing and Sporting Art, such as those by Lee Townsend and Vaughn Flannery.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Barry Irwin Buys Out Long-time Partner Jeff Siegel Archived November 20, 2008, at the Wayback Machine., Team Valor International, Press release, July 3, 2007
  2. ^ Race for Education website
  3. ^